Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Amritavarshini (1998)

Amritavarshini (1998)
Featuring: Suhasini, Ramesh, Sarat Babu, Ramakrishna, Tara and others.
Directed by: Dinesh Babu

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife” is one of the 10 commandments in the Holy Bible. “Amritavarshini” personifies this in more than one way. I have always been a big fan of movies made for the mature audiences. It is a mistake most commonly made by directors in the Kannada movie industry (and others as well) where they do not give enough credit to the intelligence and maturity of their viewers. This assumption ends up in a potentially good script stretched at the edges to fit the atomic viewpoint directors seem to have sometimes. With ‘Amritavarshini’, Dinesh Babu does not fall into that landmine which is why this movie is now officially one of my favorites.

Veena (Suhasini) is a housewife married to Hemanth (Sarat Babu) who runs his own business and is the breadwinner of the family. A cheerful and talkative woman by nature, Veena and Hemanth are a match made up above. Whoever said love starts to decline after marriage ought to take a look at this couple. Even after 9 years of togetherness (2 years of courtship included) Hemanth and Veena are soul mates. It is one of those enviable relationships everyone wishes they had. This envy, though most of the times just a passing thought, sometimes threatens to grow out of control. An envy so mighty that it matures and starts reproducing itself until it has completely consumed the individual.

Such an individual enters this haven of love one day. Abhishek Bharadwaj (Ramesh) is an old time friend of Hemanth. He has the eyes of a dreamer and a heart of a poet. Little wonder then that he speaks only in, as Veena puts it eloquently, “Hmm…Aah…Oh”s. A shy man who is initially hesitant and overwhelmed with Veena’s outrageous display of confidence and uninhibited love for her husband, Abhishek soon starts drawing obvious comparisons between Veena and Shruti (the late Nivedita Jain) whom he had loved more than his life. After Abhishek loses Shruti to blood cancer, a part of him dies along with her. He is no longer the man he used to be and becomes holed up in his own world of frustrations. These demons within Abhishek start coloring him green every day. A color that soon starts becoming darker and deeper. A color that blinds him to the feeling of friendship and goodwill he shares with Hemanth. A color that clouds him completely as he finds himself attracted towards Veena.

On a pleasure trip to Kodaikanal, Hemanth realizes the hidden feelings Abhishek has been nursing for his wife. Being the reasonable man he is, he talks to Abhishek about it in what is quite possibly one of the best shot sequences of the movie. How do you ask a close friend if he has developed the wrong kind of feelings for your wife? The metaphor Hemanth uses from the Mahabharata is a master stroke. It not only hits Abhishek but even the viewer when such a grave issue is simplified with sound reason by Hemanth. Overcome by a fit of rage and unable to control the dance of evil within him, Abhishek chooses to do the unthinkable.

Abhishek returns home alone that night to realize Veena is going to be a mother. On hearing the terrible news, Veena faints losing the unborn in the process. As Veena spends her living moments looking into the void with a question mark on her face, Abhishek is busy signing police statements about Hemanth’s accident.

Hemanth is an ardent photographer. He captures life and considers the camera his best friend. A friend, who as it turns out, helps Hemanth out even in the direst of situations. A friend who brings to light the reality behind the ugliness that Abhishek tries to hide. A friend, who ends up playing a vital role in this gripping tale of friendship, trust and timeless love.

Dinesh Babu handles such a delicate subject matter with the hand of a true genius. I do not think all established directors have the skill to do the same. This kind of genre has not been explored much in the Kannada cinema history, so it was an absolutely refreshing delight.

One superlative performance succeeds the other. Suhasini is in complete form with her controlled performance as Veena. Her character goes through so many shades between the first and the last frames. She handles her role with aplomb and showcases the true professional that she is. Her talent has always been about the things she never says and Veena could not have found a better performer. Ramesh reached pinnacles of success with this performance and there are no surprises there. He plays his role of a subdued, injured and eventually frustrated Abhishek who is desperately looking for something to help him move on from the tragedy in his love life. Unfortunately bad reasoning paves way to tragic consequences. Do not miss the climax where he does not utter a single word and yet the whole message is conveyed. Another master stroke indeed. This was a very difficult role to essay and Ramesh does complete justice to it. Sarat Babu, sans his highly Telugu-accented Kannada, is another wonderful performer in this unique intersection. His quiet handling of some of the easily “could have been loud and cliché” scenes is just plain brilliant. Others chip in appropriately in the forms of Ramakrishna and Tara, although I felt being one of the prominent members, they could have lent more meat into the goings on. I also wonder why Ramakrishna did not persue the information he got from the driver further. All the focus is always on Veena and hence it sometimes leaves incomplete traces here and there.

Technically the movie is brilliant as well. The shots of scenic Kodaikanal are a treat to watch. The songs are absolute chartbusters. Music is always an essential ingredient of a good movie and Deva does a wonderful job with the same. Editing could have been tighter in some of the sequences but nothing that one would mind. The no-nonsense treatment of the subject makes it a treat to watch. If you are tired of the unending stream of stereotypical movies then I would highly recommend “Amritavarshini” to you.

Such movies in Kannada make a rare appearance and hence deserve complete audience as well as honest applause.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Swastik (1998)

Swastik (1998)
Featuring: Raghavendra Rajkumar, Srinath, Vijayalaxmi and others.
Directed by: Upendra

If there is one thing I have always admired about Upendra, it is his ability to push the envelope with what is considered “conventional cinema” by employing new methods of capturing onscreen happenings. “Ssshh…” and “Om” are quite possibly the two major off beat themes that pretty much created a genre of sorts after they were released. He continued his winning ways with “A” and “Upendra” where he managed to challenge the limits of the audiences’ perception of Kannada movies. His unusually comfortable way of connecting with the masses and the classes (who I know grudgingly would admit he is definitely apart from the regular clan) made him big news overnight.

Every day is not a Sunday (or should I say Friday since that is day most fortunes are manufactured in India with regards to cinema) is true with all successful directors. But with “Swastik” Upendra chooses a day that does not even appear on the weekly calendar! Did that not make sense? Read on.

Things catch pace right away in this feature with Raghavendra Rajkumar being shown as a “wanted” terrorist who is busy planting flags of Pakistan in Kashmir. A curious press reporter manages to click a few good ones of this anti-India chap and soon he is a nation-wide threat. The police department, headed by Srinath, is on their toes at this point trying to get a grip of this man.

Cut to a scene at the airport where he is shown being received by his parents (symbolically wearing a cap and speaking Urdu/Hindi to denote they follow Islam) but imagine our surprise when the father pulls out a dagger and stabs his own son! The son is quickly transported to a hospital and the towering Director of CBI (Srinath) walks in with people who seem straight out of a “Men in Black” sequel and figures out that the parents know of their son's criminal activities. What do you know! Mr. Terrorist manages to flee the hospital and is now a wanted fugitive.

Cut to a scene at a slum somewhere where we find the same Raghavendra Rajkumar snoring away lazily on a bed. While Raghu (the slum Raghavendra Rajkumar) is busy doing nothing, the terrorist is shown to be busy using Raghu as an excuse to be in the right place at the right time.

Cut to a scene where the cops arrest Mr.Nice guy (aka Hero) mistaking him to be the gangster from Pakistan. Now we are supposed to be following Mr.Nice Guy and Mr.Nasty without losing track. Great! The last thing the audience wants to do for three hours is to get a pad and note down who is who. Nice going Uppi! Throw in a couple of beauties in this mix to “make sense” and the circle seems complete.

One thing leads to another and Upendra starts showcasing too much in the time slot given to him. One plot has a dozen sub plots not allowing us to completely connect the dots. As the movie progresses more dots appear in all shapes and sizes leaving us helplessly waiting for an equally bizarre and meaningless ending with some underlining of “patriotism” done. All that gets covered with the other heap of chaos Upendra puts on us.

This will definitely be one of the shortest reviews I have written so far since this movie after the first half an hour is pure nonsense. While on the one hand Upendra tries to pull a rabbit out of the hat with some sequences, on the other he keeps getting mangled in his own “logic” as it were. Except for a few fairly done comic sequences, “Swastik” is one roller coaster ride to insanity and back.

The one thing I did wonder however, considering it was Parvatamma Rajkumar’s production, that maybe Upendra was threatened to whip out a non-existent career booster for Raghavendra just like he had done “Om” for Shivraj. Since there is no other logical explanation why an intelligent man like Upendra would make a movie like “Swastik”! Oh! There is more good news. The title of the movie ends up being some random wooden box with some Diwali crackers inside. That’s all. So don’t expect any firecrackers there.

Raghavendra Rajkumar goes along for the ride with a decent performance. One cannot blame the man for trying. Srinath overacts, as usual, as the clueless Director of CBI. Vijayalakshmi and the other girl are completely wasted in meaningless roles. Others are …there as well. Some songs are decently recorded under V. Manohar’s baton and shot without anything outstanding. Editing is, as always, quick and confusing like most Upendra’s features.

If the symbol became legend with the long gone Hitler I hope Upendra does not bring more such “Swastik”s back to us. “Much ado about nothing” is an expression that pretty much sums up this feature.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Preeti Prema Pranaya (2003)

Preeti Prema Pranaya (2003)
Featuring: Anant Nag, Bhaarati, Prakash Rai, Sudharani, Sunil Raoh, Anu Prabhakar, Bhavana and others.
Directed by: Kav
ita Lankesh

“At twenty we worry about what others think of us; at forty we don't care about what others think of us; at sixty we discover they haven't been thinking about us at all.” is an old-age quote I had read somewhere. At that point although it seemed like a smart thing to say, I never realized how much that would re-appear as I watched “Preeti Prema Pranaya” (PPP).

Hoisted under the flagship of Kavita Lankesh, PPP unfolds a story as old as cinema itself. One would be rather naïve to presume this is one of those “old people falling in love” stories since that assumption would do no justice to the rainbow of emotions Kavita manages to capture on film.

Dr.Chandrashekhar (Anant) and Sharada Devi (Bhaarati) play a couple of aging individuals who have lost their respective spouses. While the doctor is busy being told what is good for him by his two rather obsessive and “control-crazy” sons Prakash Rai and Arun Sagar (both doctors as well), Sharada Devi is occupied with a lonely house and classical music for company.

A chance encounter in a park (watch out for Upendra, or at least someone who could be his twin, appear in a “blink and miss” role!) brings these two together. The doctor’s kindness and helping nature only acts as a catalyst in creating a strong foundation for this new friendship. The doctor finds a solution to his lonesomeness in the form of Sharada who is equally lonely and reciprocates the doctor’s friendly nature. While the doctor’s sons and daughter-in-laws (Sudharani and Bhavana – both in a rather wasted role) wonder what has been keeping the old man pretty busy lately, Sharada’s grand-daughter (Anu Prabhakar) arrives from the United States to visit her granny.

Sunil Raoh (Prakash Rai’s and Sudharani’s son) discovers his newfound love in Anu and soon they are singing duets in a foreign city with cars whizzing by. This brings us to two parallel stories of affection between two extremely different generations. While on the one hand the old couple is always relying on the new ones to find ways to meet, the so called “middle generation” is seeing everything with eyes of suspicion.

There comes a point when the doctor and Sharada both realize that their aging days look bleak as they watch their peers end up in old-age homes or His blessed feet courtesy their respective off springs. This wondering makes them take a stance that they are not going to let their kids run what is left of their lives. They cannot imagine having to while away their glorious days waiting for an overseas call or taking instructions from their foolhardy sons. This comes as a shock to everyone else and there is a lot of resistance to this decision. But nothing is going to stop these two from getting the companionship that promises to fill the void they live with.

PPP refreshes an important theme for our times. Living in a generation where we no longer care for anyone else but ourselves, movies like PPP are a gentle reminder of what our parents go through today and what we will have to face in the days to come. While it may look scary, PPP reassures us that all it takes is a little understanding and a companion to complete this long journey called life with a smile on our hearts.

The show belongs to the veterans Anant and Bharati throughout. They manage their unique roles with aplomb without going overboard with their emotional quotients. It was really refreshing to watch Bharati in a very realistic role that many women can identify with in today’s India. I hope she continues to essay such defining roles in the future as well. Anant is as always a treat to watch. The more I watch him in such varied performances the more I am convinced of his genius. He executes the role of a tired old man looking for someone to hold on to with a lot of conviction.

As I have said earlier, it is very hard to get noticed in such a high-profile star ensemble. This is probably why Sudharani and Bhavana seem wasted in their stereotypical “we want to be known as good daughter-in-laws” role. I wonder if Kavita could have done a little more with their characters. Their respective husbands Prakash Rai and Arun do their jobs tidily as well with nothing out of the ordinary. It was nice to see Prakash in a Kannada feature after a very long time.

The younger cast of Sunil and Anu also do a confident job despite being cast opposite legends like Anant and Bharati. Their romance adds as a perfect fuel to gel the two main protagonists and that has been showcased well.

Editing is the one area that Kavita needs to get some lessons in. Post intermission portions are well handled but the first half seems very rushed. I wonder if it had any production-components involved. Kavita’s “song inclusion timing” is also definitely cliché. Songs appear out of nowhere and have absolutely no role in the story’s progress. It was almost like the cast said “We need a song!” and hence the presentation. It would have made more sense had the songs been arranged and presented in a logical way (although I admit it is hard to do in Indian movies all the time.) Other technical features are fair and add the needed gloss to the over all PPP package.

A good script with a noble theme and fine performances. PPP is worth a watch.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Marma (2002)

Marma (2002)
Featuring: Prema, Anand, Kishori Ballal and others.
Directed by: Sunil Kumar Desai

Sunil Kumar Desai (SKD) is known for movies that are out of the ordinary. Be it ‘Nishkarsha’ – a well shot hostage drama or ‘Beladingala Baale’ – a secret lover saga with Anant at his best, SKD has always created cinema with a mysterious touch to it. This has pretty much become his trademark now. Although I have not been following his recent outings, ‘Marma’ seemed to enticing to be missed.

As the title suggests, it is a suspense thriller. Anyone who knows the meaning of the word ‘Marma’ will immediately identify it to be some kind of mystery-based drama. So the viewer gets no prizes for guessing that one. When I had reviewed ‘Anveshane’ and ‘Aparichita’, I had mentioned how smart people have become nowadays which is why making intelligent suspense thrillers is harder now. This parameter needed good

Sudha (Prema) is engaged to Anand (some Bangalore based model by the same name) and things seem to be pink and white with the couple looking forward to a life of bliss. The following day Sudha is invited to Anand’s farmhouse somewhere in the middle of the woods. On her way to the farmhouse a storm appears out of nowhere (so far pretty much stereotypical of a suspense movie) and ends up breaking down Sudha’s car. She notices a wooden cottage and knocks on the door for help. Noticing that no one is responding she manages to enter via an open window and finds a man inside. Despite her best attempts he ignores her presence until she discovers a girl’s dead body upstairs. In a fit of panic the man realizes she has seen too much and jumps on her. Sudha strikes the man and jumps off the balcony and drops unconscious on the wet ground outside.

This opening sequence heats up the goings on right away in this SKD feature. Sudha finds herself in a hospital the following day and returns home. Once home, things start getting seriously creepy. She starts getting random visits by our wood-house man threatening to kill her since she had seen the dead woman. Sudha spends a good one hour trying to convince everyone around her that she is not crazy and that the button she has (she managed to get hold of it when she was in the fight with that man earlier) is proof of what she saw. Anand, the bewildered fiancé, tries his best to convince her that she is hallucinating but Sudha is firm in her stance. She even alleges that the man entered one night and violated her chastity.

The concerned parents bring in a psychiatrist (another newcomer) who spends a good amount of onscreen time lecturing us about such cases. Before you think you are going to doze of to this man’s monotonous baritone, Sudha one day sees the man who is haunting her on the television! Things catch speed once again as SKD takes us on a journey of unraveling this rather bizarre mystery. The doctor starts becoming an integral part in figuring what the truth is. Is the real killer caught? Was there a murder at all or was it Sudha hallucinating? What about the button then? How did the alleged murderer gain entry into her bedroom every night despite so much security? All these questions are answered as the movie approaches a stereotypical end.

Credit is due for the treatment of some scenes. Sudha recognizing the man she is looking for on the television was a smartly shot sequence. Sudha’s friend Maya and her daughter keep appearing out of nowhere to visit and comfort her is also well shot. The sequence where the parents and everyone else realize who exactly is visiting Sudha in her bedroom is also a brilliant master stroke. Another well shot scene is when she brings her family to the wooden-house where she claims to have seen the murderer and actually finds him still there! Many such good sequences make up for the otherwise Prema-dominant movie.

One cannot blame SKD for choosing one known name in this malady based thriller. The story does revolve around her and so no one else gets any major say in the fare. Although I thought the choice of two very important characters – Anand and the doctor – could have been some professional actors rather than newcomers with no experience. That would have added more mileage to this interesting plot. The movie desperately needed one major entity apart from Prema to add spice into the goings on. Had there been that element, I think ‘Marma’s effect would have increased extraordinarily. It does exist after you have seen the movie, but with only one woman pretty much controlling every frame, there is nothing much the viewer can choose from. One wonders if this was SKD’s ambitious project then why he banked on so many new faces.

Without repeating it, performances wise Prema occupies the whole stage. She essays the role of the scared and confused Sudha very effectively. Although at times I thought she went overboard with some of her loud and unreasonable expressions. Anand’s role was such an important one but he manages to mess it up with his non-existent expressions. I sometimes wonder if these people get such pivotal roles due to obligations or friendly favors. As I said, the casting for this role was a bad choice from the word go. His ‘always suspicious’ look becomes a pain to watch as the movie progresses. The psychiatrist character stops preaching and puts some life into his role towards the end, but somehow the face of Anant Nag kept flashing in my mind’s eye for that doctor’s role (and not because I am a fan!). Others including the alleged murderer chip in well with their type-cast performances.

Editing is good although the background music sometimes takes away the effect of the visuals. The rain sequences could have been handled better. Camera work is fine but still-camera positions could have made the in-house sequences more chilling. There are no songs in this feature which is such an important part of a good and gripping thriller movie and SKD uses the background score well for the most part.

‘Marma’ has an excellent storyline and impresses as far as this genre of Kannada cinema is concerned. With a tighter set of performances and smarter dialogues, the movie would have definitely been one of my top five favorites in Kannada.

Bara (1980)

Bara (1980)
Featuring: Anant Nag, CR Simha and others.
Directed by: MS Satyu

‘Garam Hawa’ was Satyu’s best known work in Hindi. ‘Bara’ comes from the baton of the same accomplished director. During one of my conversations with a friend recently I was mentioning the various genres of movies I have been watching lately and when I mentioned ‘Bara’, he said it was an art film. While I am one of those who hate any kind of categorization of art and principles, it still got me thinking. The one thing I realized is that there is no such thing called ‘Art’ film. There is only good and bad art. No amount of ‘commercialization’ can save a bad feature and no amount of garb can hide a good one.

Set against the backdrop of a drought hit area ‘Bara’ picks up momentum from the very beginning. Wide angle shots of a blistering sun over a parched landscape and dying animals greet us in the opening sequence. Satish Chandra (Anant) is the main protagonist whose eyes we use to watch the story unfold. A just, disciplined and caring man by nature, this administrative officer is yet to take a journey through the gross realities of modern day politics.

Caught between a political enthusiast Bimoji (Simha) who happens to be close associate through their fathers and a cigar smoking useless piece of a politician (unknown), Satish is struggling to keep his sanity and professional sanctity intact. Satish’s life includes a mopping wife, a friend from the armed forces (Pankaj Dheer in a totally absurd role) who never seems to have anything to do except give Satish’s wife some company (as a friend of course), a religiously inclined father and a son.

Local political rowdies instigate a chaos of dynamic proportions. Everything from hiding rice and wheat from the starving public to violating women and igniting a communal war takes place. All this is done just to keep their bellies full at the cost of someone else’s life. The famine is used as an excuse for all of them to pursue their own personal goals. Does it mean taking lives of the innocent? So be it. Does it mean capitalizing on the corrupt administrative force that drives our nation? So it shall be.

Fighting a losing battle between all this is a tired and enraged Satish. With nowhere to turn for help he starts playing his own game by letting those who want to fight go ahead but at the same time manages to start helping out the poor by drilling bore wells. While the Chief Minister is using his own method to stay in power and extract all that is left of this already dead piece of bone, many people are made scapegoats.

‘Bara’ showcases the shameful tale of corrupt politics and how it strangles the desperate. It is indeed a more shameful woe that we have not yet learnt from this and continue to lose one government after another with nothing happening for the common man. ‘Bara’ is a grim reminder of the sinful times we live in.

Technically the movie is beautifully shot with no nonsense camera work. The crowd manufacturing unit has been handled well with everyone chipping in their bit. The director does a good job in getting good performances from everyone in the feature. Music is not an integral part of this movie which is a good thing. Most ‘reality-based’ movies tend to get caught in the vicious “should we should we not” tangle of background scores. In ‘Bara’ however, music and background score are skillfully used as and when required.

Anant Nag takes the cake in the performances category once again. This actor leaves me wanting for more every time I watch his features. He effortlessly becomes the struggling government official who is resisting the role of a dummy doll at the government’s hands. The actress who plays his wife - Lovelean Madhu - seems alright in her debut feature as the frustrated wife of this ever-busy husband. CR Simha plays a confidenly executed foxy role of the political leader/advocate Bimoji who is out to get himself a name at the people’s cost. The remaining group of performers lends apt support in their stereotypical roles in this political satire.

‘Bara’ is a wonderful metaphor for the famine-struck politics in our country which is displayed in its complete naked shame.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Khushi (2004)

Khushi (2004)
Featuring: Anant Nag, Avinash, Vijay Ragavendra, Sindhu Menon and others.
Directed by: Prakash

Quite honestly I have never been crazy about movies that revolve around teenage life. That probably is because every teen is so eager to become an adult that once we all have passed that stage, anything remotely to do with that rather bizarre phases of our lives looks least appealing. Especially after the bizarre and meaningless ‘Excuse Me!’ my resistance against such “its all about love as we see it” themes by college going dudes and dames has only increased.

I watched “Khushi” despite this because I nurse a quiet admiration for Vijay Raghavendra. Right from his “Chinnaari Mutta” days this child artiste seemed like a confident performer. The other obvious reason why I wanted to see the feature was for Anant Nag. Good or bad, Anant always delivers and if you throw in Avinash as well, it makes for one interesting mix of things.

“Khushi” is an entertaining fare. It is a movie that connects two very vital generations of our times and I encourage movie makers to make more such movies in the future. Movies and India, as I have so often said, are like the Siamese twins. One cannot live without the other. This makes teenage theme-based movies very delicate since they affect the present and future of our land. Directors and script writers need to make smart choices in how they deliver the message. Prakash, in this case, does exactly that. Without falling for the very easy trap of showcasing teens sucking each others faces and pretty much demanding love with the all too familiar “nanna love maaDu!”, Prakash showcases a complete family entertainer.

Ajay, Vijay (brothers) and Shashi (cousin) live with their respective fathers (Avinash and Anant who are brothers as well) and Avinash’s wife. From childhood these three are known for their “back-door” ways of dealing with problems which includes everything from forging report cards and lying to parents without a blink. Fed up of their non stop antics, the brothers send their kids to stay and study in a boys’ hostel. The boys grow up with unfulfilled wishes of freedom and dreams of living a complete teenage life. To make sure at least their college life is full of fun, they manage to dupe their parents once again into believing that they are ‘too childish’ in nature and need some real world experience if they are to take over the family run business. To accomplish this seemingly difficult task the brother duo then shunts these three fellows to live in one of their bungalows under the watchful eye of Mandeep (Mandeep Rai). One thing leads to another and the boys manage to master all vices in no time. During the three years of their stay there they also manage to fish out some belles for themselves to dance around and date when required.

They return home victors but as it turns out, a drunken Mandeep spills the beans on these guys’ real picture. The parents are shell shocked to realize that their erroneous ways have not yet bettered. In a heated exchange of words the boys leave home with a challenge to make a certain amount of money in one month. This whole scenario reminds of several movies we have seen in the past and so has nothing much to it.

Once out in the real world the boys (now men) still find it hard to land on their feet from this freefall. One event after another they start realizing the true meaning of the word responsibility, affection, family and what it takes to have a social identity. The rest of the story revolves around how the girls in their lives, especially Vijay Raghavendra’s girlfriend Chaaya (Sindhu Menon), help these guys realize their true worth and find true “Khushi”.

As I said, movies like this one do not need too much dissection. The theme of the teen mind going through various ups and downs to discover reality is what “Khushi” is all about. One wonders if the director could have experimented with this time tested theme a little more and designed more creative scenarios instead of following the traditional approach.

Performance wise Vijay Raghavendra occupies a good amount of screen presence with his experienced portfolio. I hope he gets more challenging roles to improve and grow as a professional. The other two performers are ok with nothing exceptional to write home about. The same goes about the girls playing their respective girlfriends. Only Sindhu Menon gets apt screen time and she essays her role with a lot of confidence. It is easy to lose character in such a large casting but she keeps her focus well. Supporting cast which includes a bumbling Dwarakish and a wasted Ramesh Bhat enter and exit without much to do.

Technically the movie is fresh and editing is crisp. Music and background score are very well scored by Guru Kiran and are shot well in the movie too. Watch out for one disco number which seems to have drawn a lot of inspiration from “Dil Chaahta Hai”’s disco track in its presentation.

On the whole “Khushi” entertains, amuses and delivers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Nanna Preetiya Hudugi (2001)

Nanna Preetiya Hudugi (2001)
Featuring: Dhyan, Dipali, Bhavya, Lokesh and others.
Directed by: Nagatihalli Chandrashekhar

Like most people I know, I first heard of Nagatihalli after “America! America!” which I think was a pretty good movie. The concept of people losing their way to distant dreams was pretty well portrayed in the movie. Hence N.Chandrashekhar became a big name in the business almost instantaneously. He was probably one of the first movie makers who showed regular everyday life in the United States without falling for the clichés some previous directors had succumbed to. The treatment was unique and of course, it had the “Ramesh factor” which always helps.

However, with “Nanna Preetiya Hudugi” the same man has missed the boat completely. This movie has nothing new to offer whatsoever. Stories of people from two superlatively different backgrounds – both financially and socially – falling in love and their respective families opposing it is as old as cinema itself. I am not sure what exactly it is Nagatihalli was trying to convey by repeating such an ancient concept. Okay. We get it Mr. Chandrashekhar. You have lot of contacts in the United States of America and your obsession with that country is more than people like us who actually live in that continent. But how many more times should we be subjected to the same scenarios? The same never ending shots of freeways? The same “my first day in the USA” routine? Can we move on please considering half of India is now in the Silicon Valley? Would the movie be any different had the girl been a rich lass in Bangalore? Would the movie be unique had the boy been a poor lad with a finger up his nose from Timbaktoo?

Putta (Dhyan. I don’t know why people call him this since his name is Sameer Dattani.) is a school going lad in a remote boat-connected little island-like village. He is shown to have a passion for playing the flute. A camera-conscious Nagatihalli (yes the man himself) shows up out of nowhere to teach the rather falling apart school that Putta goes to. If he is not busy mouthing some inspirational words to his “students” he is also magically managing some miracles. One of them is to get an American woman to sponsor Putta in a student foreign-exchange program due to Putta’s talent. The fact that Putta does not touch his flute the moment he touches the United States is a different story. Bhavya plays Putta’s concerned mother who is shown to be very affectionate to the boy and reluctantly sends him to the US.

Once in the Unites States he starts living with Susan (don’t even get me started on this lady’s knowledge of Kannada. For some reason Mr. Chandrashekhar feels we would appreciate an American woman mouthing bad kannada. As if we don’t get enough of that from Kannadigas itself) who helps Putta settle down and get started on his education. Now what exactly he is studying in Detroit is of no relevance since the first day of school he is said to be in Class 11. Interestingly all this is happening in Michigan State University campus with a classroom of about 10 students. I have no idea what the arrangement there was and I don’t want to find out.

Somehow he manages to meet another Kannada speaking girl in the same class (conveniently because God forbid he should realistically fall for any other kind of Indian) and before you know it they are exchanging everything from bicycles to jackets to kisses.

A couple of songs later the girl’s parents figure out what Mr. Flute master is up to and unrealistically move their entire family and lifelong business from Detroit to Miami. A change of this sort needs a catastrophe in America but a few innocent confrontations is enough for these scare-easy parents. Suresh Heblikar is the cliché American dad who is against this “love affair”. Before you have tried to stay awake from this goings on, the couple elopes…ends up in a bizarre white water rafting accident and end up back in their respective homes. I wonder what poor Susan must be thinking of our little boy who was expected to gain laurels in the United States with his “musical talents” and somehow manages to do everything but.

Back home more chaos waits. Bhavya is shown to have lost her mind since her husband (Lokesh in a completely wasted role) and relatives have convinced her that Putta is not coming back. This scares the already scared Putta who hops on the next flight (Susan must be really rich!) and arrives back home. His mother jumps onto the bewildered boy out of nowhere to let us know she is mentally sick. A few “You are not my son! I am being cheated! He is not coming back!” scenes later she somehow recovers and realizes that he indeed is her son.

For the first time I am actually wondering why I am writing a review for such a storyline. Everything after this becomes as predictable as a Ramsay horror movie. None of the girl’s parents are shown towards the end (duh!) and she manages to fly back home and join her lover much to Bhavya’s glee.

“Nanna Preetiya Hudugi” is easily the next bad movie I have seen after Kashinathji’s “Hendati Endare Heegerabeku”. At least in the latter there were tacky but laughable moments. In this movie nothing convinces nor amuses.

First things first. Dhyan (or whatever his name is) cannot act. Period. Nothing more to add. Why Chandrashekhar keeps choosing this fellow over and over again is beyond sanity. The boy can’t finish one sentence without making an artificial “I know I am on camera” hand gesture. Come on! Join an acting class man! The new girl Dipali is the only one with any emotional presence in the rather mundane script. I hope to see her in better scripted and more powerful roles since she can definitely emote given the right director. Others are passé with nothing noticeable. Chandrashekhar’s appearance as the know-it-all teacher is a drag as well since he is as emotionless as a stick in his small role. What could have been a major dynamic character turns out to be pretty lukewarm.

Technically the movie is alright. Editing is one department this man always has a problem with. No synchronization whatsoever. People suddenly change positions during a scene…face expressions change….boy oh boy he needs a crash course in Editing 101. Music is alright with a couple of pleasant tunes. “Car car” song made it big although I don’t see anything special in it except they compare two completely distinct modes of transport in two ends of the world.

All said and done Chandrashekhar for some reason is still not over his “America!America!” shot at limelight since he keeps taking us back to it in various forms and shapes. Dubbing for the American actors is just plain bad. For the first time I saw an American teacher in an American university without an American accent.

I always thought Nagatihalli was over-rated and this movie just asserts this point. It is one thing to have a noble goal to showcase good entertainment but it is a completely different thing to execute it properly. This is the area where Nagati keeps misses the bus…or should I say "Car car".

Aparichita (1978)

Aparichita (1978)
Featuring: Suresh Heblikar, Vasudeva Rao, Shobha and others.
Directed by: Kashinath

Circa 2000 and we see a steep decline in movies that revolve around mystery and edge-of-the-seat plots in the Kannada movie industry. The only two movies of this genre that come to mind almost immediately are “Ssshh…” and “Baa Nalle Madhuchandrake”. Now one might wonder if this is because of the growing demand in sleaze and never-ending hunger for remakes. In fact I think it is also this and more importantly, we viewers have been fed on such a high-calorie diet of suspense and intrigue from other languages (including the beloved Hollywood) that it has become practically impossible for writers to come up with plots that can outsmart the viewer. If memory serves me right these above two mentioned movies in my experience, which is by far nowhere near the average Kannada cine-goers, are the ones that had me pleasantly surprised and extremely pleased with the outcome. If “Sssh…” was jaw-aching comedy spiced with slick editing then “Baa Nalle..” kept us wondering till the end about the real killer.

“Aparichita” comes from the then steady hands of Kashinath. I had not even heard of such a move until recently. Once I heard that it was Kashinath’s directorial debut, I just had to see it. One needs to give the man credit where it is due and hence I take the opportunity to explore his very first feature.

Set in the background of a controversial little town, “Aparichita” takes us directly into the midst of action with the opening scene showcasing a gunshot and fleeing birds in the sky. A drunk claims that he has just witnessed the corpse of a well known man in the woods. Relatives (that include a promiscuous step-mother), her lover and a few other villagers rush to the spot to find a dead pig instead of Shaam (Kokila Mohan) whose body was allegedly found. Police and everyone else around mock the drunk calling it one more of his many fantasy-land stories. However, he insists he saw Shaam’s dead body there and hence to prove his point keeps visiting the spot so that “the murderer” might show up.

Enter Prakash (Suresh Heblikar) who claims to be Shaam’s business partner and a writer of some sort who comes looking for the latter and some ‘countryside inspiration’. Shaam’s step-mother (Sri Lalita) tells Prakash that Shaam is pretty random when it comes to being at home. Prakash decides to wait for Shaam at her place but is soon transferred to a nearby bungalow to make sure Mrs.-was-too-young-when-my-husband-died continues to meet her glass-eyed lover. Prakash realizes there is a rumor that Shaam was apparently found dead in the woods and befriends everyone from the drunk to the little boy who keeps running across the village a thousand times a day running errands. While Mr. Writer is shown to be doing more than enquiring about a friend’s mysterious disappearance, he also manages to find time to socialize with Kusuma (Shobha…no idea who this woman is. Seeing her for the first time onscreen.) who lives with her mother in the same village. A poker-faced Rangaiah (Vasudeva Rao) keeps following Prakash and all his new-found diversions. Prakash suspects foul play and starts digging deep into the relationships that bonded Shaam (still presumed dead) with every other major and minor player in the village.

One good twist deserves another and hence the plot continues to thicken until it is found out that Shaam was indeed murdered and buried in a deserted mansion nearby. To keep people away from the late-night action in that place another fear of “Kolli Devva” (the firebrand ghost) is prevalent. Despite all these hurdles, Prakash manages to bribe his way around the town finding out everything he needs to know to figure out how and why Shaam was killed.

I hate revealing too much for such movies since every scene reveals something different to us and there is no smart way to do justice to such plots. The only recommendation I can make is “Aparachita” is a well made mystery movie. The sketches that are drawn by Kashinath are very well combined together in a neat little fabric as we approach the climax. The pieces of the puzzle start falling together as we start figuring out the real murderer but the revelation of the criminal could have used a little more tact. Once the name and face of the murderer has been revealed a good part of the movie takes a dip with some past stories being investigated. The second half which explores Kusuma’s past was the only dragged out sequence in the entire affair. This movie did not need any songs at all since its focus is on the scene of crime. But, I guess to keep the movie’s value viable a couple of random songs were thrown into the mix.

Performances are crisp and concise. Suresh Heblikar plays his role well as the competent and inquisitive Prakash who will go to all extents to find out what Shaam’s story was. Shobha is adequate as the dove-faced beauty who is supposedly putting up with a turbulent past. Vasudeva Rao is at his usual best with histrionics display in the right amounts. Kokila Mohan makes a pleasant appearance as the wayward Shaam. All the other supporting characters are not big names, but definitely play vital roles in stitching this piece together.

Kashinath delivers a wonderful and enjoyable fare for once that can be seen by the entire family. It is truly a shame that an artiste of his caliber has not yet found his true worth. I have always admired his performances when they were good but also despised him for mocking the art form of acting. This time, however, I recognize the competence he shows in producing “Aparichita”.

Technical aspects are pretty mediocre considering most of Kashinath’s productions are on a tight leash financially. Camera work is good but could have used more lighting in certain crucial places. Editing seems hurried in many places but as the story unfolds it does not worsen. For a movie set in 1978, “Aparachita” looks and feels like it should. A movie worth watching at least once considering you will not watch such thrillers once the secret is out.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Chigurida Kanasu (2003)

Chigurida Kanasu (2003)
Featuring : Shivaraj Kumar, Anant Nag, Avinash, Radha Tripathi, Vidya Venkatesh and others
Directed by: T S Nagabharana

First things first. Before reading this review the reader needs to have some insight into the background of my psyche about this movie. I watched ‘Swades’ almost 6 months before I saw ‘Chigurida Kanasu’. Now the only reason I saw the latter was because almost everyone I met after watching the former invariably said “Ah! Big deal! It is a remake of ‘‘Chigurida Kanasu’!” While I understand and agree with the need to draw parallels with a successful Kannada movie with yet another successful feature and give credit where it is due, it is also vital that we see these two movies in completely separate lights. At the risk of people throwing bulky near-by objects at me, I am going to say it. These movies find inspiration from a generic moral but take off one completely different route in execution.

True. Both these movies start off similarly but while ‘Swades’ took a deeper look at the grassroot level necessities of rural India, ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ takes a look at a wider more varied issue of a man overcoming several hurdles to achieve a goal. If the only ‘enemy’ in ‘Swades’ was the mindset of individuals, ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ deals with more visible and real foes in the form of characters in the plot. If ‘Swades’ was about eventually doing something for our nation, ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ tries to capture everything. While this is not necessarily a dissection of one story as two separate treatments, we should not watch either of these movies with any comparison to the other in mind. As I said, ‘Swades’ is not ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ and vice versa.

Shankar (Shivaraja Kumar) is a Delhi-born and bred just-graduated engineer. He lives a life anyone would envy with a doting father (Anant Nag) and a loud and annoying mother (do you really care what her name is?) who cant even say ‘I love you, my dear son’ without making it sound like a threat. He also has a younger brother (again, a nameless entity) who is shown to be a pilot. While Shankar is happy with where he is in life and where he will be, somewhere deep in his heart something tugs at him all the time telling him this is not where he belongs. Shankar’s Delhi-based girlfriend is a Kannadati (Vidya Venkatesh) and does a pretty neat job teaching our Hindi-speaking friend some Kannada. While this jolly little couple has their head stuck in the clouds, Shankar’s mom is making arrangements to have him married. Reluctantly Shankar agrees to see the bride-to-be. During this little scheme-based event, he realizes the letter B in his name stands for ‘Bangaadi’ which is either a person or a town of some sort. Shankar finally finds a ray of hope in this name. To add more oxygen to his yearning heart he discovers he is a Kannadiga too! That moment his father tells him “Speak in Kannada, my son. It has been so long since I have heard that language.”, a shiver runs through a true-blue Kannadiga as we see ourselves mirrored in Shankar’s tears. One of the most brilliantly shot scenes in the movie. Anant confesses he walked away from his roots since it, according to him, betrayed his father (a Shivaraja Kumar look-alike, duh!) and no longer wishes to be a part of it. Shankar, on the other hand, has found new light. He will not let anything stop him from going back to his roots.

With much retaliation from the Hindi-camp, Shankar takes off on his unknown journey. He visits his college mate from Karnataka and is shocked to realize that ‘Bangaadi’ actually is a small village not far from where his friend stays. He visits his roots for the first time in his entire life. Another scene that appealed to me was when he places his hand on the cold stone-floor in his friend’s house. It is then you realize he has found his home. His real home.

Shankar meets his grand-father’s sister, an old and frail lady who is shocked and relieved to see her brother’s re-incarnation appear in front of her eyes. She narrates the story of her life and the incidents that led to Shankar’s grand-father to flee his own roots. She shows him the piece of land that belonged to their family and requests him to re-build the now in ruins house of theirs. Enter Shaanbog sir (Avinash) as the dubious villain of the plot. Having run the old lady’s life all these years, the idea of some random foreigner entering their lives does not please our man. He has a young and cheerful daughter in the shape of Rekha Tripathi (I forget what her name in the movie was) who teaches in a self-run school in that village. As is customary in our movies since they began, the village belle plucks out her heart and hands it over to Mr.Delhi-returned Shankarji. [Sometimes I wonder if I too should find a village and go there since the city girls don’t seem to be caring that I too am a ‘videsi babu’! I mean, so many hundreds of directors cannot be wrong……or can they? Of course, that is a quest for another time.]

Meanwhile Shankar returns home with this great news for his father. He cannot wait to tell them all about it and take the entire family (girlfriend included) with him to Bangaadi. As we would know it, none of them agree to return except a disappointed Shankar. Another neat scene is when he waits for his girlfriend at the railway station hoping she would come to see him off. There comes a moment of uncertainty where he almost alights from the train and walks away from his quest, but his heart and his grandmother’s words stop him from doing so. As a weeping ‘I-don’t-love-you-enough-to-support-your-cause’ girlfriend watches the train disappear, Shankar has embarked on a whole new journey.

Once back in Bangaadi things accelerate. And not just between Shankar and Shaanbog but also between Shankar and his land, his ‘cant-you-tell-my-heart-is-yours?’ eye-batting teacher friend and between Shankar and his aging grandmother. With great will comes great grace (not referring to the show ‘Will and Grace’) and hence Shankar manages to gracefully build a strong bridge across the river in that village. A bridge that the Shanbhog swears never to step on but does so in a rather amusing fashion. More development projects catch speed in the form of ‘not-too-lethal’ electricity supply that our engineer-babu manages to generate (This sequence has ‘‘Swades’ copied it’ written all over it. Fair enough.) He turns to the back bone of our nation – agriculture and starts working on his land much to Shanbog’s envy and rage. The teacher girl manages to blend herself into Shankar’s life and starts dreaming of a life together with this noble man.

Enter Shankar’s long-lost Delhite Kannadati girlfriend! The teacher’s dreams are crushed by this and in a rather captivating scene the teacher and Shankar’s girlfriend end up making it clear to each other that both of them cannot have a place in Shankar’s life. The rest is cliché with the girlfriend doing the sacrifice and traveling back to Delhi with a broken heart.

The remaining part of the story is up for grabs. It involves all the necessary elements in a typical commercial fare with fights, misunderstandings, realizations, a couple of timely deaths et al.

Shivraja Kumar is in his element as the ‘desperate-for-roots’ Shankar who gives up a bright prospect in life to find himself. This performance is touted as Shivraja’s best performances and I agree with slight reluctance since I still believe ‘Om’ is what saw Shivraja in his complete form. Of course, this is just my opinion. His Hindi-accent needed serious polishing. One wishes had call-centers been more effective during the time this movie was shot, accent-training might have been easy. Despite his best efforts Shivraja does not come off as a convincing Hindi-chap due to this. This makes the character-sketch a little bleak although it does not hinder the progress of the movie in any way. Anant is at his usual best with a bang-one performance although he seemed under-used as the hopeless father. There could have been a wonderful side-character for him had he joined Shankar in the village and met his long-lost aunt. Vidya Venkatesh and Radha are stable as the girls vying for Shankar’s heart. Avinash is at his usual best (one more super performance by this accomplished actor) chipping in the right amounts of evil in the goings on. All the other characters including Krishne Gowda lend apt support to the central character.

Technically the movie is well shot. The natural surroundings of Bangaadi and the picturesque locales of Ganges on the banks of Varanasi are well portrayed. Background music is good with some catchy numbers although a couple of songs could have been chopped off. Nagabharana does a fine job in narrating the tale of a lost individual finding himself and standing up against all odds to get back what is rightfully his. Editing sometimes tends to slow things down but nothing that one would generally notice.

A fine script with a noble theme and a strong message. Shankar ends up finding his roots. We all can only hope we know where our roots lie and if we don’t, this movie beckons you to search for it.

As I said earlier, I for one, found both ‘Swades’ and ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ very different in their approaches and treatment. I will agree that ‘Swades’ drew the basic inspiration and a few scenes here and there from ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ but it is definitely not a remake by a far shot. At the end of day, what does matter is what you take away from it.

Dweepa (2002)

Dweepa (2002)
Featuring: Soundarya, Avinash, Vasudeva Rao, Harish Raju and others.
Directed by: Girish Kasaravalli

Movies based on novels seldom go wrong in their execution. The deep rooted messages they give us leave lasting impressions on our mind. Girish Kasarvalli tactfully brings such a story to the celluloid in the form of ‘Dweepa’ that uses a mythological metaphor to send home a message.

Based on the original version by Na D’Souza, ‘Dweepa’ takes us immediately into the lives of a small family living on the beautiful paradise-like island in the heart of Karnataka. Embedded like a crowning jewel at the foot of a picturesque mountain called ‘Sita parvata’ the island is part of history. The history that is older than any of us or our ten generations in the past. It is believed that Rama and Sita used that mountain and its surrounding areas during their exile. The local folk also believe that an enraged villager’s spirit who killed an evil king is their God Almighty. This belief is so deep rooted that it refuses to change the old man’s mind when it is discovered that due to rising water levels, the island is bound to submerge sooner or later.

The old man (Vasudeva Rao) and his son Ganapaiah (Avinash) are the official ‘village welfare’ ritual holders. They perform a ritual called ‘nema’ which is supposed to invoke the villager-God and help people prosper in life. Nagi (Soundarya) is the dutiful wife of Ganapaiah who goes about being the sole person who keeps this family afloat. Literally, as it later turns out. When the island is informed about this soon-to-be-catastrophe, the wise people pack their boats and row away into grocery stores and other businesses. The old man, his son and daughter-in-law on the other hand have a more complex problem at hand. The government does not care about these handfuls of crumbling huts and hence does no more than fling a compensational fee at them and tell them to move. The island is everything the old man has for an identity. His life has been spent in that island performing the family tradition of ‘nema’ and nothing can compensate his life’s earnings. Despite the officers trying to help out the troubled family, the old man refuses to leave his roots to which his son tunes in as well.

While this is the pickle this father-son duo is in, let us shift the scene now to Nagi. A confident woman with a heart of gold. She understands and appreciates the traditional connection they have with the village and its roots but she is the most practical person in that rather foolishly adamant family. She requests her father-in-law and husband several times to rethink their foolhardy decision but in vain.

One fine day, the policemen sent by the government drag the gritty old man out of his little hut and take him away from the village. But his roots are so deep that nothing helps keep him in one place and he returns back to the same village. Foreseeing more trouble ahead, Nagi’s mother recommends taking Krishna (Harish Raju) as a helping hand in case things were to take a turn to the worse. With a stupid husband and an exceedingly rigid father-in-law Nagi accepts this offer and so we see the cheerful and spirited Krishna enter their lives.

Krishna has had a rough streak. With a failed stint in Bombay he is looking for some place to hang on to so that he does not get labeled a loser. As he enters this small family the companionship between him and Nagi starts to pinch Ganapaiah in the eye. Nagi and Krishna are the only talking heads in this rather silent and hushed up family. According to Ganapaiah and his father, this cheer seems almost criminal in the face of the murder of their roots that is taking place. Nagi on the other hand is ready to move on. The old man finally gives up his life performing his last ‘nema’ at the temple shrine and this is the final nail in this drowning coffin.

With the old soul up in smoke, Ganapaiah slowly starts to lose his mind and what is left of his rather weak reasoning skills. Suspicion is the worst kind of demon there is between couples. Once this snake strikes one can be assured there will never really be complete healing. Unfortunately for Nagi, ironical to her name, it does. Ganapaiah tries his best to make sure that he conveys his malicious feelings towards Krishna. This even includes giving him dangerous assignments like herding a cow and her calf across an angry river. Nagi’s concern for Krishna is misinterpreted in all the possible ways that a gutless spouse can possibly do. When Nagi realizes that Ganapaiah has started withdrawing as a husband and a man, she lets Krishna go. Krishna, promptly, takes off with the only transportation mode they have – the boat.

Now…they are stranded on this drowning ship with a raging rain on one hand and a roaring tiger (yes there is one on ‘Sita parvata’) on the other. While Ganapaiah is busy giving up on life altogether, Nagi fights against all odds to make sure they are safe. Her mental and physical abilities are put to test in the face of this Herculean challenge for survival. When we watch Nagi fighting everything from a clogged sludge to invisible man-eaters, we realize what a strong woman she is. One of the most brilliantly shot sequences in the movie is the final half an hour that showcases the struggle of an innocent woman.

Every good book has a strong bottom-line. The final few pages. Those pages that you want to jump to but would not do it because it would break the rhythm of the narration. Hence, the final five minutes of the movie should not be written about or explained. I am going to let the viewer enjoy it and feel what I did. The battle of a woman’s inner and outer demons are beautifully underlined in the climax that leaves you with a dry and hollow feeling in your heart. Ah! What a fortune to be witness to such beautiful cinema.

Performances wise the show belongs to Soundarya without a close second. This was the first movie I saw after she passed away and it sends a dagger to my heart at how God can be so cruel as to take away such a gifted performer and a wonderful individual from us. She brings a raw and real effect to the Nagi whose heart ends up becoming the ‘dweepa’ itself that no one can reach. Her simplistic and bulls eye portrayal leaves us yelling in silences for Nagi’s justice. It was absolutely a treat to watch Soundarya in such a deglamorised and authentic role. Thank you, Soundarya ji, for bringing us such splendor. We all will miss you for eternity. May the Almighty keep you close to Him. Amen.

Avinash underplays his role wonderfully as the ‘I-don’t-know-how-else-to-live’ chicken of a husband who ends up praising the unseen God when she is right beside him. One can only hope that God produces less Ganapaiahs and definitely more Nagis in our generation. Vasudeva Rao is in full swing as the annoyed and distraught old man fighting to die in his roots if not live on it. Professionals like Mr.Rao will be sorely missed for the finesse they brought to the screen. Harish Raju does a very confident job as the confused and happy-go-lucky Krishna. Pitted against giants like Soundarya, Avinash and Vasudeva Rao he manages to maintain a steady performance. Given the right roles we might be looking at yet another horse for the long haul.

Technical aspects are brilliant. The cinematography by National Award winner H M Ramachandra is a visual celebration of Mother Nature and her many colors. The background score tugs at your heart with its deep rooted notes and timely pitches. Editing is sometimes a little blunt and tends to drag the movie at times. This slows the pace down a little bit but Girish Kasarvalli’s deft direction keeps it from falling apart.

On the whole ‘Dweepa’ is a wonderfully crafted masterpiece. Being Kasarvalli’s fifth National Award winning film, ‘Dweepa’ is a must-watch for people of all genres. Here is an exemplary model of what Kannada cinema is all about.