Ever since the golden age where movies like 'Nagarahavu' were made in the Kannada film industry, the theme of young love has been explored to a great extent. Now almost every week we have a movie that invariably claims to have found a new way to depict that same funny emotion – love. In that aspect, the publicity material I saw of 'Krishnana Love Story'(KLS) in Bangalore earlier this year weren't any different. What did catch my attention though was the director Shashank's statement that the movie was based on a real story. Now being a huge aficionado of stories that reflect some degree of reality, I actually was quite eager to watch KLS after hearing over the grapevine that Shashank's previous venture 'Moggina Manasu' was also a successful venture. From the posters of the flick I had seen around the city, I was expecting it to be a clever, amusing, sarcastic even witty take on modern love among young adults and how friendship plays a critical role in enhancing the same. In short, a very mature love story seemed at hand.
The movie started off on a promising note. We have a college dropout Krishna (Ajay) who is involved in the clothing business along with four of his close friends. He also, on occasion, helps out in his father's kiosk selling biscuits and cigarettes. He comes from a middle class family that depends largely on numbers and statistics to make their month find some coherence. He rides his father's gift to him, an aging motorbike christened 'Hombegowdru' after his late grandfather. A bike that is shown in the publicity material as being an integral part to the plot. So far, the backdrop is refreshingly interesting and pretty relatable.
Then we move on to Geeta (Radhika). Yet another middle class girl who is finishing her graduation and is quite conscientious about her studies and is shown to have neither the time nor the patience to find a boyfriend and roam the city streets aimlessly. Her older brother, uncharacteristically somehow, is a local rowdy who makes his moolah by slashing off people's cheeks. There is also the mandatory inclusion of their husband-less mother(Umashree) who works as a tailor and of course has a weak lung. Slightly cliché for my taste but well, I waited on hoping the main plot wouldn't be so.
Then the obvious happens. Krishna sees Geeta and falls in love immediately. But Geeta makes it clear to him that she isn't the kind who has the mental faculty for such silliness and that she has other priorities that need taking care of. She also conveys that it's not even his middle-class status that is stopping her from reciprocating his initiatives by clearly declining similar motives by a more wealthier and much well established rival of Krishna. This characterization of hers made sense and certainly set up the platform on which the movie could've been potentially narrated in a meaningful and consistent fashion.
But near the intermission portion is where things start going on a familiar, almost bizarre, curve. Suddenly one day, after having confessed her love to Krishna since he helped out during a family crisis once, Geeta decides to elope with the rich fella. Reason? Mysterious. On her way to their secret wedding in Dharmasthala, Geeta and her beau are involved in what appears to be a pretty intense car accident and miraculously, but not surprisingly, Geeta escapes with minor injuries while the rich fellow dies. Geeta returns home but refuses to show any emotion to anyone around her, including Krishna who in the meanwhile is shown to have forgotten all about her and started moving on with his life. Now that she is back, with great effort Krishna re-enters her life trying every trick in the book to get her to share her hidden feelings with him. In fact, both the families also agree that Krishna should take her away from the hubbub of the city to try and get her to open up about two things – a) why she took off with that rich guy so randomly and b) why her personality has changed so much since she returned.
This is where I was most hopeful about the story. At this juncture, I thought, was where the plot would give us that much needed surprising twist that would justify the entire premise of Geeta's insane behavior after returning from her escapade.
Reader, sadly, that moment never comes. The only justification, if we can call it that, we get is that she had realized that Krishna's love came with budget limits. That her life had been spent so much already in woeful financial misery that she wanted to get rid of her middle-class status and finally live life the way she truly wanted to. This is where the whole story turns on its head and becomes an absolute farce. One of the biggest loopholes in the plot is right here given that she had been so averse to the concept of wealth and living big that she had declined every motive from the rich chap initially. If we argue that it was indeed the desperate need for funds that drove her over the cliff eventually then why couldn't she share this with Krishna whom she trusted so much? Did she not genuinely see a future with him?After all, when things got bad with her mother, was he not the one who was taking care of both of them? So why on earth would a rational seeming girl like her reject his love and choose to go with someone with a lot of money? Whats worse is that she then goes on to blame him for accepting her back! She goes on to accuse his unconditional love for her as being the reason she cannot put her guilt behind her! I am sorry, in the real world, where meaningful things tend to take place, a girl in her situation would have thanked the guy who is so large hearted and genuinely good, that he is willing to give her a second chance. Heck, even if we assume she eloped under stressful conditions, all she had to do was tell him this was the reason she did what she did instead of sticking her head into a pot full of self pity and extreme insecurity about her own decisions. Very, very bizarre turn of events, I thought. A serious, obvious and painful hole in the plot. The story ends on a needlessly tragic note where you don't really feel any compassion for either of the lead characters since their actions post intermission have been so contradictory to their initial shades.
Speaking of technical stuff, sure, the camera work is pretty good and the songs are well choreographed. A couple of hummable tunes are also included with 'Santeyalli Nintaroonu' being the pick of the lot. But as is the case mostly, the songs do not help the story move forward and act merely as place holders for people to get a breather from the intensifying plot. For that, I thank Shashank. Performances are stable but all limelight is on Radhika Pandit in the post intermission parts where she seems inspired by Kalpana's Kaveri in 'Sharapanjara'. Her mood swings are overacted in some places and she ends up falling seriously short of justifying what could have been a milestone role in her still budding career. Ajay is alright but he doesn't seem to have a wide range of emotions to display like Radhika does. The only time he does display some variation in his performance is during the final scene, but its too late for anyone to care.
The bottom line though, remains this. In a time when Kannada movies are so desperately seeking some decent plots, some challenging characters for the female leads, some coherence in the narrative, KLS comes across as a contrived effort in its eventual execution. It becomes blatantly obvious that the director could not think of a creative way to justify Geeta's whimsical decisions and so decided to smear her wonderfully crafted character with juvenile reasons of self-doubt and self-apathy. KLS eventually turns out to be a colossal waste of good talent, great opportunities and most importantly, our precious time.