FantasticFest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S., specializing in horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and action movies from all around the world. Here's a list of some of our favorite movies at FantasticFest.
From renowned Jnanpith award winner and playwrite Girish Karnad comes this fantastic piece of cinema, released around the same time as SHOLAY(perhaps six months later) and surely deserving much better national recognition than it ultimately got.
In paying clear tribute to Akira Kurosawa and his SEVEN SAMURAI, this movie is the story of a couple of mercenaries that are pitted against each other in the politics of old and feudal Karnataka. Sumptuously shot in the forests of Dandeli by AK Bir, this Shankar Nag debut won him the National Award for best actor. I wouldn't go as far as to say that his acting was great, but the obvious energy he brings to his role is very evident. He went on to become an 'action' hero in Kannada films and director of some repute as well(MALGUDI DAYS in Hindi for National TV and MINCHINAOTA(A Lightning's Run) & ACCIDENT both in Kannada), until his own untimely death at the young age of 35.
Not to digress, but this movie was arguably the first one to introduce the use of Kalarippayattu, the Kerala form of martial arts into filmdom. The stunts are breathtaking and the movie worth seeing solely for those.
Karnad is a very intelligent craftsman. He does not really have too much time or head for bringing in comic relief into his movies. All the lighter moments are perhaps only in keeping with the characters' natural development within the scope of the story. Another actor that impresses is Sunder Krishna Urs as the senior mercenary and older warhorse.
Apparently a VCD of this movie is now available in its native state of Karnataka (unsure if it is available worldwide). But this one is for collectors and lovers of intelligent cinema and well told tales!
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