Thursday, January 19, 2006

Rama Shama Bhama (2005)

Featuring: Ramesh Aravind, Kamal Hassan, Shruti, Daisy Bopanna, Urvashi and Dattatreya. Directed by: Ramesh Aravind

Kannada movies have had to suffer major stereotypical movie casting in the past couple of decades as far as comedy and family entertainment is concerned. A popular genre has been the rowdy movies (popularly known as “machchu movies”) which are a dime a dozen and are invariably about love, crime, self realization, mindless bloodshed and loads of trash talk. Only certain members of such casting are “responsible” to provide comic relief in scenes that never gel well with the screenplay of the movie. While this appeals to a large section of the masses, there is a debate about such cinema among people who have grown up appreciating wholesome family entertainers. Movies that may not necessarily convey a life altering message but definitely give us much needed clean and genuine laughter.

While on a 2 week flash trip to Bengalooru I finally saw a Kannada movie in a theater after almost 15 years (a fact I am not proud of) and what a comeback I made! People kept mentioning movies like ‘Amritadhaare’ and ‘Jogi’ as popular titles but I somehow wanted to see the much adored Ramesh in his directorial debut. What could be more endearing than a Kannada speaking Kamal as the powerhouse backup of the movie? This sounded too tempting to miss. After all, it might be another 20 years before Kamal decides to feature in another Kannada movie.

Apart from learning that Kannada movies were tax free (though not convincingly rats free based on the condition of the theater I was in) I was pleasantly surprised to see a house full crowd to watch the movie which was already in the cinemas for a few weeks. I had heard so many people whine till they went blue in the face about Kannada movies not getting audience that I was truly proud that I was helping in the cause.

Rama Shama Bhama, as might have been obvious already, corresponds to three characters in the movie essayed by Ramesh, Kamal and Urvashi respectively. Rama is a cartoonist who is happily married with an innocent wife Bhama (Urvashi’s Malayalam accent seems a little annoying at first but then it grows on you) and two kids. Contrary to their names Rama, though initially seeming to be a frustrated husband, is actually much more than just that! A flirt by nature, Rama befriends Priya (Daisy Bopanna) by lying to her about his marital status and manages to convince her that they have a future together. To celebrate this they chart out a pleasure trip to Goa. While Mrs.My-Husband-Personifies-His-Name is unaware of her beloved’s extra curricular activities, Rama is unaware of the danger that awaits him at the airport.

Sham Sajjan (Kamal Hassan) is a humble and down to earth gynecologist and an old time friend of Rama. As luck would have it, Rama and Shama bump into each other at the airport (much to Rama’s agony) and end up in Goa together. While Shama takes his time to figure out what exactly the deal with Rama and Priya is, the sequences that add up to that moment are absolutely hilarious. Laugh-a-minute comedy follows as Sham’s wife Shanti (an innocent village belle portrayed with finesse by Shruti) and a camcorder-crazy son arrive in Goa. What follows next is not something one should write about (and I am not saying this to reduce the length of this review). The movie strikes a strong resemblance to a lot of comically designed tales of onscreen infidelity. Nothing new as far as the generic content is concerned. What does add all the magic is the treatment of the subject. This includes neat editing work; pleasant music and background score (courtesy Guru Kiran); tidy cinematography and special effects (yes!) and some brilliant onscreen performances.

Kamal Hassan steals the show with his Hubli/Dharwad accent and my personal favorite “Mundha?” liners. His depiction of the always-up-for-a-just-cause attitude works well as he tries to defend and help his poor friend. During the post-intermission portions he switches sides and ends up helping Bhama who has by now gone from a na├»ve wife to a determined woman set out to win her husband back. Ramesh is at his usual best with his perfectly timed histrionics playing the frustrated husband looking for some added spice in life. As I mentioned earlier, but for the strong and sometimes out of place Malayalam accent, Urvashi pulls off a quick one with her portrayal of the patient and timid housewife. Daisy Bopanna is the real center of all the action (literally at times!) with her killer looks and confident performance. I had never heard of her before this movie but now I will never forget her even if this was her last movie. Shruti and Dattatreya lend apt support with their professional expertise being in the field for so long.

All said and done – RSB (Rama Shama Bhama) works big time. Not just because it is one of the few genuinely funny movies I have seen in Kannada after a long time, but also because it brings together a good combination of talents from neighboring states. Finally here is a movie this festive season that can be watched with all members of the family irrespective of age.

Such a rare celestial intersection should definitely not be missed.

ShaKri rates this movie 4 out of 5.

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