indian cinema heritage foundation

S V Rajendra Singh Babu

  • Born: 22 October, 1952 (Mysore, Karnataka)
  • Primary Cinema: Kannada
  • Parents: D Shankar Singh , Pratima Devi
  • Spouse: Anuradha B
  • Children: Aditya, Rishika

Belonging to one of the most eminent families associated with the Kannada film industry, S V Rajendra Singh Babu is a highly acclaimed filmmaker, screenwriter, and producer who delivered some of the most celebrated films of Kannada cinema and also directed a few Hindi and Telugu films. Working across numerous genres from love stories to war and suspense thrillers, and comedy films, the renowned director was highly influenced by the creative cinematic environment in which he grew up as the son of legendary producer, director and a respected freedom-fighter, D Shankar Singh, who owned the Mahatma Pictures productions banner in Mysore which significantly contributed to introducing several unconventional and experimental cinema hits in the Kannada film industry. His mother was the highly esteemed Kannada actress Prathima Devi

Born and brought up in Mysore, Rajendra Singh Babu was perhaps destined to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious parents and was thus inclined to work in the film industry, showing an interest in the mechanisms and creative processes of the making of a film since his childhood. However, it is said that both of his parents were initially against him getting into this line of work, perhaps due to their fear of possible failures. They eventually came around to supporting him and once he was a part of the film fraternity, the director’s late father insisted on him learning the nuances of all departments involved within the business of films. 

Starting off his career with his debut film in 1975 titled Nagakanye, he went on to work on numerous films in a career that spanned almost four decades and is continuing with great revere and relevance. Since his father’s production banner had been famed for bringing in significant revolutionary and experimental elements in the traditional cinematic life at the time, Rajendra Singh Babu would also go on to carry these elements throughout his work. Some of his most acclaimed films include Antha (1981), Bandhana (1984), a film that bagged the National Film Award for Best Feature Film and several other accolades, Muthina Haara (1990) starring Vishnuvardhan and Suhasini Maniratnam, Hoovu Hannu (1993), Mahakshathriya (1994), Mungarina Minchu (1997), and Bhoomi Thayiya Chochchala Maga (1998) among many others. His films from the 90s era have been especially regarded for their profound reflections of social concerns and commentaries of life, regionally as well as in the national industry. His work has also often borrowed from short stories and novels. For instance, his 1995 film Himapatha was based on a Kannada novel of the same name by eminent writer T K Rama Rao. 

He was also closely associated with actor Ambareesh, who was cast in Mahadeshwara Pooja Phala (1975) and in the 1972 film Naagarahaavu, also starring Vishnuvardhan, which was a huge success and paved the way for Kannada cinema’s most celebrated leading actors to make their mark in the industry. Their association also led to the making of the successful film Antha (1981), based on the serialised narrative story by H K Ananth Rao which was published in the weekly magazine Sudha, with Ambareesh cast as Inspector Sushil Kumar. The film faced a lot of controversy and delays while getting its certification from the censor board, but eventually went on to enjoy critical acclaim and public appreciation, and was remade in Tamil as Thyagi (1982) and in Hindi as Meri Aawaz Suno (1981), starring Jeetendra in the lead role, directed by Babu himself. It also won three Karnataka State Film Awards for Best Screenplay, Cinematography and a Special Jury Award. 

Revered in the Kannada film fraternity for his inspiring and unconventional stories, he also made a name for himself in the Bombay film industry and worked with celebrated artists like Amjad Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Parveen Babi, Rekha, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra and Dilip Kumar.

Some of his other works include films like Nagarahole (1977), Bhaari Bharjari Bete (1981), Mera Faisla (1984), Ek Se Bhale Do (1985), Bannada Gejje (1990), Kalyanothsava (1995), Doni Sagali (1998), Kurigalu Saar Kurigalu (2001), Love (2004) and Rebel (2015). He also acted in several films during the initial years of his career in the film industry and has also served the Karnataka Film Directors Association and Karnataka Chalanachitra Academy as their President, and the Indian Committee for Oscar nominations as its Chairman. 

An accomplished and respected film personality, his wife is Anuradha B and they have a daughter, Rishika, and a son, Aditya.