indian cinema heritage foundation

C R Simha

Director
  • Real Name: Channapatna Ramaswami Simha
  • Born: 16 June, 1942 (Channapatna, Karnataka)
  • Died: 28 February, 2014 (Bangalore)
  • Primary Cinema: Kannada
  • Parents: Lalithamma and Ramaswamy Shastry
  • Spouse: Sharada Simha
  • Children: Rutwik Simha
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Actor, director, dramatist and playwright, C R Simha is best known for his work in Kannada films and stage shows. He acted in several films, including award-wining Samskara (1970), Sankalpa (1973), Anuroopa (1977), Chitegoo Chinte (1978), Bara (1983), as well as commercial films such as Indina Ramayana (1984), Nee Bareda Kadambari (1985), and Nee Tanda Kanike Ramapurada Ravana (1985). Simha acted in more than 150 feature films in Kannada, including artistic and commercially viable projects. He also directed five Kannada films, including Kakanakote (1977), Simhasana (1983) and Ashwamedha (1990). His performance in Malgudi Days was also widely appreciated. Honoured for his work in the fields of cinema and theatre, he was conferred the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to theatre acting and direction. 

He was born Channapatna Ramaswami Simha on 16 June, 1942 in Channapatna, Karnataka. His interest in the arts saw him appear on stage when he was just 12. The following year, he had already written a book titled Family Doctor, also finding a publisher for a remuneration of Rs.15. A student of National College at Basavanagudi, Bangalore, he went on to join the National College Histrionics Club in 1959. While he acted in many Kannada plays like Bahaddur Ganda and Manavemba Markata, he along with his friends also set up the theatre group Nataranga in 1972. 

Simha went on to act in and direct several successful plays such as Kakana Kote and Tughlaq, as well as translations of Shakespearean plays such as Midsummer Night's Dream and Othello, which were performed not only in Karnataka, but in metros across India. He also made his mark in English theatre, becoming a member of the Bangalore Little Theatre and directing reputed English plays. His performance as Cyrano de Bergerac especially brought his acclaim, while he also won applause for Utpal Dutt's Suryashikar and Girish Karnad's Tughlaq. He went on to start another theatre group Vedhike in 1983, performing his successful one-man show Typical Kailasam across the world, as well as other successful plays such as Meese Bandoru, Bhairavi, Karna, Rasa Rishi Kuvempu, and Maduve Maduve. In 2017, his play Rasa Rishi Kuvempu, based on the life and literature of Kuvempu, was made into a film, directed by Simha's son Rithwik Simha. Simha played the role of Kuvempu.

Simha made his mark in cinema, acting in approximately 150 films in the course of his long and successful career as a character actor in Kannada films. He featured in critically acclaimed films as well as commercially successful productions, from Samskara, Chithegoo Chinte and Anuroopa to Nee Bareda Kadambari (1985), Parameshi Prema Prasanga (1985), and Rayaru Bandaru Mavana Manege (1993). He also made an impact essaying negative roles in Ramapurada Ravana (1984) and Parashuram (1990). 

Picking up the director’s baton, he went on to direct five films including Kakana Kote (1977), Shikari (1981), Simhasana, Ashwamedha (1990) and Angayalli Apsare (1993).

Exploring the realm of television, he acted in several Kannada, Hindi and English language teleserials. His performance in the well-loved serial Malgudi Days won him attention, while he also featured in Goruru in America which was based on the travelogue written by humorist Gorur Ramaswamy Iyengar. 

Besides writing and publishing five plays in Kannada, Simha was also popular columnist, penning Nimma Simha every Friday for six years in the popular daily newspaper Vijaya Karnataka

Honoured with several awards in the fields of theatre and cinema, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by the Government of India in 2003, recognising his contribution to theatre acting and direction. He also received the state Rajyotsava award. 

Simha was married to Sharada Simha; they had a child, Rutwik Simha who turned filmmaker. Simha’s younger brother Srinath is a famous film actor in mainstream Kannada cinema.

C R Simha passed away in Bangalore on 28 February, 2014. He was 71. He received a State funeral.