(Last Updated on : 09-05-2012)
Gubbi H. Veeranna was a renowned personality in Kannada theatre
. He was born in the year 1890. His image comparable to that of Bal Gandharva
or Girish Ghosh
in their respective regions. Although chiefly remembered as a comedian, his essential contributions as actor-manager lie in building the famous Gubbi Company
. He was born in Gubbi, which is a small town in Tumkur district
. He joined the local troupe named Gubbi Channabasaveswara Nataka Sangha at the age of 6. Gubbi H. Veeranna worked there as a junior crew member, and was later elevated as actor. Gubbi H. Veeranna slowly climbed the ladder till he became an active partner in running the company. With his great organizational skills he managed to salvage the group out of several terrible situations and finally became its chief in 1917.
Under his leadership the Gubbi Sangha metamorphosed into the most celebrated Kannada Company. Its achievement lay in gathering and consolidating talents and innovations created by the entire Company Nataka
movement. Actors like Subbaiya Naidu, Chikka Honnappa Bhagavathar
, B. Jayamma
, and G. Sundaramma, and playwrights like Bellave Narahari Sastri
and B. Puttaswamaiah were recruited. Mutturaju, who later became famous in film as Rajkumar, began his career here. Gubbi H. Veeranna took pains to collect the best in technology and resources. The quick-change transfer scenery, gorgeous sets, dazzling costumes, electric lights and projectors, even trained animals were the attractions. The company mounted spectacular mythological shows like Kurukshetra
in 1934, Krishnalila i.e. "Krishna's Lila" in 1944, and Dasavatara i.e. "Ten Avatars" in 1958. These left an indelible imprint on the popular psyche. Gubbi H. Veeranna also taught actors and built well-equipped theatres in Bengaluru
. His troupe travelled widely in Karnataka
, Andhra Pradesh
, and Tamil Nadu
, had by 1930 become pre-eminent in south India, with three branches and around 300 employees.
As a comedian, Gubbi H. Veeranna is best remembered for his intricate improvisations translating minor parts into unforgettable comic models. Gubbi H. Veeranna raised comedy from the confines of subplots to the main body of the play, paving the way for an array of imitators. The King of Mysore
, Krishnaraja Wodeyar, honoured him with the title "Versatile Comedian". In 1930, he pioneered Kannada cinema as actor-producer, notable films including Jivana nataka i.e. "Drama of Life" in 1942. There, Gubbi H. Veeranna enacts as a troupe manager. Hemareddy Mallamma, Gunasagari, and Bedara Kannappa are worth mentionable. After 1940 he entrusted the company to his son, G. V. Chennabasappa. It continues to this day, the only one in Karnataka that has lived for more than a century. Gubbi H. Veeranna's autobiography, Kaleye kayaka i.e. "Art as Profession" was published in 1967.
Gubbi H. Veeranna died in 1972.