The 1971 Kannada film Kasturi Nivasa attained a landmark achievement in the film industry. Helmed by ace director-duo B Dorai Raj and SK Bhagavan, the film initially couldn’t pull off a desirable business upon its release. Many termed it to be a boring watch. Upon witnessing the first-day box office collections, the masses were convinced that the film was going to be a disaster. But critics begged to differ, remaining hopeful. One of them published a good review of Kasturi Nivasa, following which it began garnering good remarks from the audience, thanks to word of mouth. This changed the tables for the better, with the Dorai-Bhagavan directorial becoming a blockbuster at the theatres.
But there is one lesser-known anecdote to the film that many might be oblivious of. Kasturi Nivasa’s script was penned by Tamil writer G Balasubramaniam. The director duo as well as the film’s producer Noori lauded the concept. The makers wanted to cast late Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan as the lead. In dire hope to rope in Sivaji, Noori even acquired the rights to the film for an amount of Rs 25,000.
But things didn’t go as planned as Sivaji declined to be a part of Kasturi Nivasa upon hearing the script. According to him, his primary concern was that the film did not have a happy ending. That’s when dialogue writer Chi Udayashankar, accompanied by B Dorai Raj’s brother showed their interest in adapting the film into Kannada. This time late Kannada actor Dr Rajkumar was cast as the lead.
According to ETimes, although Dr Rajkumar was initially hesitant to be a part of the project, after seeing the faith of the filmmakers in Kasturi Nivasa, he agreed. The film was bought by KCN Gowda from its original producer Noori at a price of Rs 38,000. Finally, on January 29, 1971, Kasturi Nivasa was released on the big screens across Karnataka.
After a slow start in the first few days, the film gained momentum, striking a chord with the masses. It witnessed a successful run for about 100 days in 16 theatres in the state. Dr Rajkumar’s role as Ravi Verma was highly appreciated by the audience as well. Later in 2014, Kasturi Nivasa was re-released in the coloured version at a cost of Rs 2 crore.
Kasturi Nivasa which also starred TR Narasimha Raju, TN Balakrishna, KS Ashwath, Arathi, Halam, Jayanthi and Rajashankar in important roles revolved around a generous man named Ravi Verma, aka Rajkumar who had to pay a hefty price for his unbridled generosity.