In 2011, Darshan Thoogudeep, a Kannadiga actor commonly known by his first name, starred as Raja, an auto-rickshaw driver, in a Kannada film titled Sarathi. The film was released on 30 September, the death anniversary of Shankar Nagarkatte (better known as Shankar Nag), a legendary figure in Kannada cinema who acted in over 80 films and directed ten (along with two television serials, including Malgudi Days, adapted from RK Narayan’s work). Darshan’s film, which even included an animated dance-sequence featuring Nag, was widely viewed as a tribute to the late star, who, in 1980, had also essayed the role of an autorickshaw driver in the film Auto Raja, directed by Vijay. Auto Raja was an inter-class love story, with Nag playing an urban working-class auto driver and the leading actress Gayathri the daughter of a wealthy estate owner, and Nag’s love interest. According to the critic MK Raghavendra, the film attempted to “build a community around the urban working class”, represented by Bangalore’s autorickshaw drivers. It was a super-hit, making Nag a rage with auto-rickshaw drivers across Bangalore.
more from Sharanya at Caravan here.