Labrador played Gunda in Naanu Mathu Gunda after debuting in Malayalam hit Bangalore Days
English Labrador, Simba, a pet dog from Basavanagudi, South Bengaluru, had an illustrious career in Sandalwood films, acting in more than five features. Simba breathed his last on Monday.
Simba’s owner Varun and trainer Swamy are still unable to come to terms with the dog’s passing. Simba had just turned nine in March.
Varun is a resident of Basavanagudi and Swamy alias maridevaru, is a celebrity dog trainer who runs K9 Gurukul in the same area. The duo shared their memories of the past eight years with Simba.
Swamy who started Simba’s training in K9 Gurukul in 2007 recalled Simba was only a 30-day-old puppy when he took him in from one Ranjith before handing over the dog to Varun. “He was one among the family,” said Varun.
Varun has a 20-Terabyte collection of photographs and videos of Simba. “We videographed him during the cinema shootings, commercial shoots and also television pet shows and dog shows,” Swamy told Bangalore Mirror.
“Initially when he came to my school, he was horrible; it was very difficult to train him. He was hyperactive most of the time and would just run away even when
leashed. I had a tough time from his fourth to eighth month, after which he started listening to my commands. All of a sudden he turned out to be an obedient dog who would regularly attend dog shows,” Swamy recollected.
When Simba was 10 months old, he got an offer for acting in a Malayalam movie – Bangalore Days, which was a super hit and was dubbed to many Indian languages. So began Simba’s career in film with Bangalore Days. “He was around one year old when he was done with the shoot of that movie,” Swamy recollected.
After Bangalore Days, Simba did not get any offers for the next two to three years, but kept attending dog shows and pet shows. In this gap, however, he was getting roles in commercials and shorts, Swamy added.
Soon, Simba got the offer for a Sandalwood feature film – Naanu Mathu Gunda in which he played Gunda. Raghu Hassan was the producer and Srinivas Thimmiah was the director. “Raghu called me, asking for a dog for the movie which was based on a pet. I showed him three dogs; rocky, Simba and another dog. Raghu, at once, selected Simba from the three as he was drawn in by a ‘different’ energy and the dog’s unique features.
“During the filming, there was a crowd of around a thousand people and all of them were shouting; Simba did his shot without any distraction and difficulty. The director okayed the dog’s acting in a single take,” Swamy told Bangalore Mirror.
Soon after Simba’s death, his co-actor in Naanu Mathu Gunda, Shivaraj KR Pete, said, “he (Simba) did not act with us, it was actually we who had acted with Simba.”
Simba would finish his shoots in single takes. There were running scenes on a highway which the film crew thought they would have a tough time shooting; but Simba made things simpler and easier for the crew. In Naanu Mathu Gunda, he won an award too for the best actor in the non-human category.
Simba appeared in five feature films. His other movies are Shivaji Surathkal, Gultoo and Wajid. He has acted in four commercials and attended almost all dog shows in Bengaluru. Oftentimes he would secure first position in obedience in the category of all-breeds. He had secured seven best-in-show awards, Swamy recollected. He was also the best dog in a pet show series telecast by Colors TV.
After Simba turned nine in March, he developed tic fever. Owner Varun had been taking Simba to his veterinarian for treatment for about twenty days. Simba did not respond well to the treatment. The vet said his kidneys and livers were enlarged. On May 9, around 6.30 pm, Simba passed away.