Kannada film industry as well as Indian film industry has lost many legendary actors. However their popularity has never decreased even a bit. People worship them as their Gods. One such actor, who is not only worshiped by his fans, but also by entire Karnataka is Karate King, Auto Raja Shankar Nag. The day he died can also be called as a black day for Karnataka and Kannada film industry. His contribution to Sandalwood is still remembered.
Shankar Nag, started his career from Marathi theatre. He later shifted his base to Kannada film industry and made his on-screen debut with Girish Karnad’s Ondanondu Kaaladalli. The movie was adapted from Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece, Seven Samurai, which fetched him a National Award at the Delhi International Film Festival. In a span of 12 years (1978 to 1990) he has acted nearly in 80 Kannada movies. In 1980s, Shankar Nag was called as Mr Perfect in Kannada film industry. Apart from acting, he has also directed and produced many movies like Minchina Oota, Janma Janmada Anubandha, Geetha, Accident, Nodi Swamy Naavirode Heege and others. Though he had never undergone any martial arts training, he was called as ‘Karate King’.
Shankar Nag was born to Anandi and Sadananda on 9 November 1954, in Uttara Kannada District, where he completed his primary education. His elder brother is ace Kannada actor Ananth Nag. He was married to his close friend Arundathi Nag. The duo have worked together in several plays.
His film Auto Raja, which was released in the year 1982, gave him another title as ‘Auto Raja’ Shankar Nag. He is so popular among auto drivers that most of the auto stands in Karnataka are named after him. Nearly 50 percent of auto rickshaws have picture of Shankar Nag in their auto even now, which shows his popularity. Current superstars like Darshan and Ganesh have also dedicated their film to Auto Raja.
Shankar Nag did not limit his efforts to cinema. He was equally immersed in theatre and television. In 1987, he also directed a Hindi tele-serial Malgudi Days, which was based on the collection of short stories by RK Narayan. Well known actors like Vishnuvardhan, Ananth Nag, Arundathi Nag and Master Manjunath appeared in the serial. The serial was a big hit in TV nation wide. The popularity is such that even popular digital media have acquired the rights of the cult show.
Shankar Nag died in a car accident near Davangere district, when he was on his way to Hubbali, on September 30, 1990. It’s a belief among Kannadiga’s that Shankar Nag would have changed the face of Kannada Film Industry if he was alive today. Even though he is dead physically, eh si still present in hearts of Kannadigas, through his films. We miss you Shankaranna.