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Soni (2018)
6/10
Realistic portrayal of a strong woman in Delhi Police Force.
20 October 2018
"Soni" is a film that deals with gender sensitive issues. Indian cinema deals very less with this subject. The women are either glorified or shown as helpless victims in most of the popular narratives. Ivan Ayrs debut film "Soni" breaks that by staging its lead characters amidst the real world. The protagonist "Soni" a police officer in Delhi police dealing with crimes against women. A warm blooded with anger always on the tip reports to her higher official Kalpana who is completely opposite, full of calmness and capability of judgement. They are in power but still are vulnerable and have their own weakness in dealing with the world of men on either side, the criminals as well as the male police officials. This is a complex idea but executed with such clarity by Ayr. Some of the extreme sequences like handling of youths taking drugs in ladies toilet, top Navy official harassing police on duty, high school girl teased for usage of sanitary pads. These are the threads that the film deals with. "Soni" was screened at Venice in the Orizzonti Competition category.
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Namdev Bhau (2018)
8/10
An unforgettable experience
20 October 2018
"Namdev Bhau : in search of silence" is something unique, a visually spellbinding narrative so powerful and exquisite. Its a deep and phenomenal film. Like most of us are in search of something that we are in need Namdev is in search of silence. Being a 65 year old chauffeur in the chaotic city of Mumbai he is exposed to noise on duty. Back home there is his nagging wife always complaining on how little they have. All this leading to frustration compels Namdev to google on top five silent places and exploring them. As he embarks on his journey to find the place of utmost silence he is joined by a twelve year old boy Aaliq who is in search of an equally important place named Red Castle which is adjacent to the Silent valley. The narrative is warm, pleasant and has a sensible quotient of humor and emotions. The humor is very subtle and really laughable and some sequences moistens your eyes. Its a film devoid of the usual twists, turns, comical relief. Its experimental and realistic and pure visual storytelling. Daria Gaikalova (Dar Gai) the director, the captain deserves an applause. Born and bought up in Ukraine and working in a theater group, Dar has been in India as a faculty teaching creative writing and film appreciation at 'Whistling Woods International'. The film premiered in Busan International Film Festival this October.
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6/10
A contemporary romantic comedy
7 August 2018
"Katheyondu Shuruvaagide" is a contemporary romantic comedy which rarely gets explored in Kannada. The last that I remember on such kind of a narrative was "Ondu Motteya Kathe". Katheyondu, however, is more simplistic and a character-driven narrative with not so strong plot, to support it.

Senna has his own style of making films. He finds stories about regular normal people and makes it interesting, putting in life and humor around it. This trait was quite evident from his first film 0-41* a docu-drama which unfolds in a small town in northern Kerala. The trait continues with a better budget and a very apt star cast in "Katheyondu" exploring relationships at different thresholds in life. The simple structure of narrative gives a fresh feel to the Kannada film lovers, thanks to the minimal characters and their realistic behavior.

Beyond the "new to Kannada" tag there are a few interesting points that need to be looked into. The underlying problem a lot of us likely feel with contemporary rom-com movies, is the sheer lack of a strong base which brings out the true essence of the story and its characters. They seem to focus more on alternative plot-lines or moral high-grounds in order to challenge the usual stereotypes. The positive part of this movie is that the alternative plot-lines are again rom-com tracks. This seems like a good strategy of catering to people of all age groups. While it may work well for a certain set of audience it may fall flat for another set due to lack of depth and engagement factor in one or more tracks. Typically romance happens when people get to know each other, catching each other's rhythms, share each other's world views, sacrifice for each other. The viewer has to believe that this character is transforming because of the romance, and both people in the relationship are drawn close to each other. Just like a suspense thriller needs to answer the whodunnit part a romcom needs a happy ending. If one were to look into, the narrative justifies certain aspects and lacks in some. It is easy to have these all ticked if it is a single track or between one pair. Dealing with multiple pairs brings in context switches and a pause resume flow even though the tracks are inter-winded. Many a time things just happen like there is very less establishment of Tarun really falling for Tanya or another way around. The much necessary conflict does not convincingly show up but comes only at the end but again dissolves in a jiffy. The comedy has to come from romance, it has to be integral to the romance plot. The film achieves this in the side tracks but probably could have been written much better. The usage of English illiteracy seemed repetitive wrt character Pedro. Not to mean people won't have a good laugh. They certainly will but obviously, it is at the cost of losing something really magical writing that would have made a great difference.

People who have watched Rishika Sharma's "Trunk" will notice what natural performances mean. I had mentioned that some of the forthcoming films will have this pattern of subtle performances with lively characters and a natural conversational style. Katheyondhu follows a similar style. Digant was chosen for this role in the scripting stages itself and he fits the bill naturally. Pooja is a surprise find and excels in her performance in many sequences. She can easily be one of the contenders for best debut in Kannada this year. Babu Hirannaiah, Aruna Balraj, Shreya, and Prakash deserve applauds. Ashwin Rao ends up getting a good meaty role. He Shines in a few instances where he manages to bring a laugh but in certain sequences, he looks too artificial. There is a right amount of emotional sequences that bring out the meaning of love, especially in the Middle aged couple. More such moments could have taken the film to another level.

Technically the film scores merit. This is a visually great looking film with exotic locations, soundscape, and properties. There is a consistency in the visual flow with the right musical notes providing the melancholy. Songs pop up regularly but never came out as a source of disturbance. The slow pace is understood as the film is supposed to carry that feel to make it work. It becomes slow only due to certain sequences which is very low in substance and gets disengaging. This film is recommended for the experience that it gives and solely depends on the watcher on how it gets him or her involved. If this works, it's certainly a great boost for people who have lined up these kinds of narratives.
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Kirik Party (2016)
6/10
A decent coming of age musical romance!
30 December 2016
Its over a century now since the medium of Cinema is known. It has been explored, improvised and exploited in various means. Whatever or however we talk about creativity, skilled writing the most important of it is the business side or the commercial part of it which is the end means. There is this growing feedback loop from audience to filmmakers within Sandalwood and the neighboring states which gives a sort of direction on which are the possible areas to explore for new projects. 2016 so far has been a good year with many experimental and break from usual theme films. The year ends with KirikParty one of the most expected, hyped and biggest film. Straight to the point the teams efforts are clearly felt on big screen and deserves to be appreciated.

Every film has a framework or a genre and a target audience base.. The framework of the film has a direct influence on the audience base. The larger the window of the audience base the more likelihood of the film succeeding. The joyful youth is a green phase of life which most of us can connect and relate too. And there is a sizable student / youth community which is out there and ready to relish on a film that is on this theme. The success rate of a much similar kind of film by name "Premam" in Malayalam or "3 idiots" are evident benchmarks. I always had this thought why such themes are not attempted by filmmakers here. Glad that R & R (Rakshit and Rishab) took the challenge of realizing it. As a result we see Kirik falling in the category of coming of age college drama packed with music and romance, a flavor hardly attempted by anyone in Sandalwood in recent years.

The college backdrop films has its own set of characteristics which are the same across the globe. Barring the crime angle the aspects that are prominent are the comical sequences in the class rooms, falling in love (does not matter it is junior or senior), the elections, the senior junior conflicts and the HOD / principal conflicts. This is a small and sweet world which is filled with unforgettable situations which etch through your mind your whole life. Kirik Party makes an honest attempt to take the audience through all these aspects. Its very surprising to see that there will be this one lecturer who stands out as a terrific comic (In Kirik its the lecturer in mechanical department). So many years have passed by but still such characters exist in real life. Just having the narrative with mindless fun does not get the film to create a hook to make you sit through. The disturbances, the transformation of the protagonist makes it a full circle. Kirik does have that element but the flow and the pace the narrative goes through does seem to have some issues. The dialogues probably lays the strong foundation for the film and that seems to work with the target audience. It was like a laugh riot. It is another thing that i hardly felt like laughing maybe i have a bad sense of humor or maybe there is a problem with my funny bone that i don't find things funny but rather silly. I have a strong feeling that a few of the audience may be with me in my small boat where as there is this huge jam packed crowd in mammoth sized ship cursing us, the people in the small boat that we have lost it. Completely understandable and i share that attribute!

The film looks colorful and neat on big screen and exhibits great production quality. The locations in MCE Hassan gives an added flavor to the atmosphere. The casting is perfect. Its amazing to see Rakshit pulling off this role at ease. He looks very confident and when he is confident there is no doubt that he will go deep into the character that he portrays. New comers Rashmika Mandanna and Samyukta Hegde are great find. The freshness and the attitude in their performance is worth appreciating. Arvind Iyer also delivers a decent performance. I was impressed by him again. Pramod Shetty looks a bit out of place but manages to squeeze in with the limited scenes he is in. Sorry I could not get the names of the folks in the last bench and the pineapple party but they have ensured that the right support is provided. Karam Chawla is awesome with his amazing cinematography. I have always loved his work and he manages to surprise me again and again. The same is with Ajaneesh. The unique theme, the fun beats, the overall background score and the songs, he has given his best yet again. The art design and production design also shows off significance. The length of the film is an overkill but for most of the watchers that will not be a issue at all. Over all its a pretty decent effort.

Paramvah is set to make history with its debut production and Personally i might not have had a high kick watching this film but this does not mean that it should be the same with other audience. I had to tone down to an extent to be with the film and it was a decent Okayish experience that i was left out with. But as said earlier this targets for a certain audience base.. R&R already having executed a UK kind of film on which i have a hangover even now and I have strong faith that we will get to watch a film of that kind of caliber owing to big business that Kirik will do.
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Kahi (2016)
6/10
An absurd discreet drama that tries to explore the dark side of human nature.
4 November 2016
If you are a staunch follower of Kannada films then you wouldn't have missed watching the trailer of "Kahi" which went online a year back. I am pretty sure you would have watched it multiple times for its different kind of feel, groovy music, some amazing shots, Yes the head-shot in the bathroom and the transition with which the title is shown, Reminds of Breaking Bad though.

The dark theme of human nature is seldom explored in Kannada film. "Kahi" is all about that. The bitterness and darkness where one lives for himself and his desires. The desires in traditional cinema are kind of larger than life but in this narrative it is an obvious necessity in the situation they get in or force themselves in. The film is basically a human drama with shades of a crime thriller. The narrative is mostly linear except for a flashback which seems to be very much required for bringing a closure. There is no hero, heroine or comic character. They fit into the present generation of urban Bangalore or any metropolitan city. One of them seems to have been portrayed in extreme probably because of the psychopath nature. The two female characters Krishi playing a wannabe novelist and Matangi playing a wannabe dancer know exactly what they want whereas the two male characters Harisharva playing a drug peddler and Suraj Gowda playing a merciless psychopath are discreet and are bound to run away from the circumstances they get into. All these characters are in distress and have something they are worried about. These characters cross paths at different times and moods sometimes taking the film to a high and sometimes just like ellipses to take the story forward. Its more of the "one event leads to another" kind of film. The film is bit slow in the first half giving in time for the characters to evolve but picks up pace in the later half. The film doesn't contain loud acting or loud dialogues. There is no message that the director wants you to take away nor there is anything like you will be entertained full on. Its a different kind of experiment to provide you an experience of a narrative. I have watched some short films attempting this kind of plots but probably this is the first feature at-least in Kannada. The run-time of approximately 100 minutes is considerably less compared to the normal films. Gives a feeling that more substance could have been there to explore on the characters and their arc. Maybe the script had it but may not have come on screen because of the budget or other constraints which usually haunt independent cinema. Some parts of it are extremely well executed whereas some have that amateurish feel. The film does carry the "independent look" flavor. The narrative is not free from faults. There are certain questions that come up on why and how will some of the characters do what they are doing based on the critical nature of the situation. Its a different kind of climax the film closes with and probably might raise concerns on why it ends that way. But then again it depends on the viewer on how he or she digests it.

So if you are a person familiar with Banashankari then you will have good time guessing the locations. Cinematography is kinda good but some shots are extremely good. You can witness some long shots especially the one in the party where Suraj Gowda is dragged for snorting a drug. The music is one of its kind and helps the film in several sequences maintaining the upbeat. Kind of reminds the OST of Hollywood films.

"Kahi" is not a masterpiece for which i will urge you to have a watch. However it does give you an opportunity to explore a different kind of narrative experimented in Kannada and that too on big screen. There is very less or probably no support from the industry for such films prior release and i don't feel this will get a backing that helped "RamaRamaRe" as this does not hail morality nor there is good meeting bad followed by transformation or juxtaposition of two extremes to drive in room for philosophy. All this film concentrates on is the dark human nature what we all are made of. If this film is backed it will be a good thing for independent films and we will get to see more experiments. This might not appeal a larger set and age- group because of the theme this film falls in. But i hope the audience with a varied taste will find this film interesting!

Arvind has gained your attention attempting to do something different with the trailer, character introduction and music and now it is the time for you to give a try for his and his teams effort. Prepare yourself for a different kind of experience and give this film a chance!
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7/10
An honest portrayal of relationship midst chaos
3 June 2016
So whats the film about? There have been numerous films based on Alzheimer's but probably this is the first time Alzheimer's has been explored in Kannada cinema. "Alzheimer's" and "Missing" these two terms always go together. Uncountable cases of people who have this disorder missing and the thought of an elder person goes missing is a natural incident. personally I have seen a couple of instances, the pain and the distress the family undergoes in search of the missing person. Hemanth has tapped in this situation as an engaging plot and has showcased it in a contemporary setup fixing the locations in and around Bangalore. He has moved away from the stereotypical film making and has tried to bring in a new sense with the characters that make the film. What we get to watch is series of incidents that bind the characters leading to transformation. Even though the film projects the father son relationship as the main track there is another parallel track with a crime angle. Hemanth has managed to keep these two tracks progressing at a slow pace and when these tracks meet the film takes a turn. Venkoba Rao's character played brilliantly by Ananth Nag is something that we can easily connect to. We have grown up watching such kind of personalities in our families. Some one following a routine of morning walks, laughter club, watching cricket on TV and passing comments on players, usually bad. Isn't this something that happens in our house? Ananth Nag is undoubtedly a fine actor and is a perfect match for this role. The narrative had scope to make more use of him, however he has limited appearance, makes me feel that his role is underwritten. His natural mannerisms, the smile that he flashes brings out the innocence much needed for the character. Bengaluru has many IT professionals who are seen and referred to as stressed bunch. (Not completely true though). The stressful job, the back to back phone calls and internet have taken priority over family life. The elders in the family knowingly or unknowingly are getting neglected. This is quite a happening situation in most of the families here. Siva Rao played by Rakshit Shetty is one such character. Its quite a different forte for him and it is quite commendable of him to accept playing such roles. There are instances where he struggles (the beginning of the film) but as the film progresses his performance gets better. Giving out emotions is a real hard task. He still needs to evolve as an actor. Its good to see him pick character oriented roles than the usual heroism ones and that will surely fetch him accolades.. Shruthi Hariharan is brilliant as Sahana, a doctor / caretaker of Venkoba Rao. She is the perfect cast for the role. After Lucia this probably is the only Kannada film which has used her skills sensibly. I feel sorry as most of the filmmakers fail to realize that. Hope she gets in more opportunities. Vashishta plays Ranganna, the bad guy and has an amazing screen presence. His character has a broader graph. He is rough and tough and that seems to have helped in playing the character in a natural way. Witnessing his performance i wish he will get in more offers. Achyut Kumar plays a minimal role but he manages to grab attention through his comical mannerisms. Technically the film is good in some parts and bad in some. The camera-work is "okayish" kind, the main problem seems to be that of lighting. The framing in most of the parts seems to have been done without giving much thought. There are several instances where jerky camera movements can be noticed. The sound design seems to be effective in most parts of the film however there is this problem of lip sync which is quite evident in the initial scenes. Somehow as the film progresses this problem seems to go. Music by Charan is one unique aspect that truly lifts the film. The "Ayomaya" track is outstanding! Though it is loud in some parts it doesn't harm the experience. The editing has issues but it depends again on how seamlessly the narrative was captured visually. The film at times seemed to lag. Overall its definitely a watchable film. Probably its one of its kind Kannada film. Such kind of films may come in the near future but it depends on how audience accept this one. Having watched the film and knowing our audience i am pretty sure they will like this film. There are several reasons to like this film. Its a nice blend of commercial and sensible narrative. We have been appreciating several new filmmakers and their experiments. This too deserves appreciation. There is lot of honesty that i see in the film. However the film is not short of issues. If seriously thought about there are several holes in the plot. For me the letdown was the emotional part that i expected to see more seems to have gone "missing". The subtle treatment which was much talked about really dint really have that impact on screen. It looked too casual for a film which was supposed to be high on emotions. The father son relationship could have been the track to be concentrated. As the narrative progresses the shift seems to be more on the crime track than the main. GBSM definitely is a welcome change and will get crowd falling for it.
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U Turn (I) (2016)
7/10
U-turn : A turn-on engaging thriller
19 May 2016
When you talk proudly about Kannada films in the recent times you can hardly miss mentioning Pawan Kumar's "Lucia" . The immense success of this film put Pawan onto the list of acclaimed film-makers and the expectation level just got higher. This really puts him in a tight situation. After a gap of more than two years Pawan is back with his new project / film "U turn". The title is catchy for sure and the trailer does tempt you to watch as soon as it hits the screen.

Unlike Lucia, this is not a mind-bending, twisty or a clever script. Its minimalist, focused, fast paced and follows a linear narrative. As revealed in the trailer its a story about the mysterious events that occur on a flyover. How these events get connected to each of the characters in the film is interestingly woven. Its quite unusual to have a female play the lead protagonist but it seems to be a very sensible decision. In any narrative there should be some character which we should sympathise with and that kind of fits in right. The urban set-up of Bangalore that we live in blends perfectly with the plot. Even though the narrative scopes itself to Bangalore, it kind of works for any metropolitan city where time, traffic, chaos take precedence.

The film starts with some heavy conversational scene which is rather unconnected to the main plot. So even if you walk in five minutes late into the show you haven't missed anything important. "U Turn" is not those "dont miss the beginning" films. It flows freely and falls in place by the end of first thirty minutes. Once the main plot kicks in it hooks you on. The plot is so thin and sacred that you just cant think of tampering it by giving unnecessary faking shocks. In a way the film builds up and unfolds in a predictable sort which made sense to me. It could have been clever but the tone is such that it is more subtle than being complex. Having the lucid Lucia experience there are high chances that you could have expected it to go to wow you but the narrative chooses to be straight and more importantly delivers what it has to. We Indians are kind of fond of message oriented films. Ask any film-maker, he says there is a social message, its become a norm sort of. If you build a narrative such that the message is passed and not forced that probably has more impact. Those who have watched "Sairat" will relate to this. U-turn too does not force any message but does bring out the aspect of civic sense and responsibilities. I hope after watching people will remember and get reminded of their responsibilities on and off the roads. Lets not just limit ourselves to put on some FB post stating "I will not take this or that turn #uturn".

There is shift in genre from romance, thriller, mystery, horror. Its kind of risky given the mood swings however its an interesting experiment which did not disturb me much. There is no scope for songs, forced comical situations and am glad that no compromise has been done on this part owing to the commercial aspects. This is appreciable! There are scenes where in dialogues are excessive. Since most of the audience connect with dialogues more than the visual this traditional technique is still followed.

Performances were pretty decent. Shraddha fits in right for the role. A new face was seriously needed and she seems to have played it well. Many might feel that her Kannada could have been better but w.r.t the character she plays it is quite OK. Krishna Hebbale once again plays a cop. He is kind of senior. Roger Narayan gives out a new feel and seems to be a great find for the role. Dilip Raaj is a fine actor but has been underutilized. Hope he gets noticed for his work. There is one actor who keeps on coming to your mind while you watch the film but never comes on screen. Baadal!

Technically this is a well executed film. There is nothing awesome about the visuals as the shots are more natural and more like what you see in day-today life. The sound-scape especially for a city like Bangalore seems very effective.

No big producers, no big stars yet Pawan and his team manage to pull out a film that engages you for about two hours. Agreed that its of a different experience than Lucia but how many films like U-turn gets written, executed and delivered? Could it have been more better? Maybe! Could it have different way of ending? Maybe! But it would spoil the narrative. Looks like the only way it had to end has been followed. Well the fact is, Its an indigenous script and it surely deserves your time.
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0-41* (2016)
0-41* more than just a volleyball game.
30 April 2016
With the advent of digital revolution cinema has entered a new space. The sacredness which was there earlier is now lost but looking from the other side, from the audience perspective we get to see the work of emerging talented young filmmakers. One one side the mainstream cinema suffers from the stereotyped storytelling formula typically larger than life characters just aiming at the box office and on the other extreme the arty films continue to challenge the audience to make out sense of narrative from the visuals.

Somewhere between these two extremes there have been films which stand on the ground narrating stories of common people with whom we get connected much easier. There have been numerous films that fall in this set but Raam Reddy's "Thithi" took a leap further by positioning the visual narrative in the actual location with minimal crew and most surprisingly acted by non actors. The film was shot in a village in Mandya (Karnataka) with the majority of cast being villagers, basically farmers. The experience that got created with this approach is commendable and unforgettable. "Thithi" has kind of achieved a cult status among film buffs. Not much far from Mandya, a little down south in Kannanghad (Kerala) a similar effort has been accomplished by Senna (Prasanna) Hegde. His directorial debut 0-41* (part fiction, part documentary) is a story set in Kannanghad and has the localites and all of them non-actors.

Discreetly inspired by real life events the narrative is straight forward. Its a story about friends who chill in their own way in the small town. What binds them is the passion for the volleyball game they play in the evening and the alcohol party they have every other night. The game gives way to a serious situation as one of the team gets successively beaten for over twenty odd games. The captain of the losing team, the protagonist a non believer of God and who has not seen the best of life right from his childhood undergoes a transformation but when lady luck or the divine is about to strike his success in the game he just wants to that capture that sacred moment. Its very humane and all of us always live the moment of success and for a person who has experienced failures in series it is life changing. Thanks to some brilliant writing the narrative touches on different aspects like affairs of the state, the mockery on prohibition of alcohol, the oasis like gulf illusion the youth of Kerala dream about. Some of the sequences remain memorable because they are strikingly real and naturally comical.

The movie though made with shoe-string budget has an impressive visual and sound appeal. Seems like that if you make a film in the surroundings you know, you can have a greater control. Its quite surprising that "sync sound" has been very effectively captured. Since the cast is mostly non professional actors it gets a bit uncomfortable during some of the sequences in the beginning. But as the film progresses you get to know the space and can expect how exactly the characters react. The part documentary gives the characters the chance to speak their hearts out. Some do it comically, where as some are serious. The music is quite sensible. Though songs really don't fit in, there are a few of them shot with montage sequences.

0-41* brings in freshness just like Thithi. It beckons you not to just watch but be a part of the film experiencing the friends battle each other in the field and sharing their life stories.
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Masaan (2015)
8/10
Astounding achievement!
23 July 2015
FIPRESCI, Un Certain Regard and standing ovation at Cannes, standing ovation in Ahmadabad and now a standing ovation in Bangalore, Neeraj Ghaywan's Masaan is a film that deserves high accolades for its exceptionally well written screenplay and execution. This year has been good for Indian cinema with some of the best films like "Court", "Killa" and "Kaaka Mottai" hitting the screens. Masaan joins this list of elite films. These films do not have big stars, big investments but the honesty in film-making and the content that they carry is something that Indian cinema has not attempted before, even attempted not this subtle. "More subtle, more the impact" seems to be the mantra of these films. From larger than life narratives these films bring in the shift to depict stories of ordinary people in mundane situations and their reactions. There is a kind of honesty and faith in the film which one can easily get engaged to. This not only brings the freshness breaking the stereotypical norms also gives out thoughts through the different layers the narrative has. The stories that narrate the connect of human emotions need to be explored more. "Masaan" deals with the connects of relationship in a very mature and subtle way. It keeps away from the usual melodrama. It thrives of modernism though tied with traditional values. "Its a bold film with values rather than bold visuals".. Each one of the characters has a story with real life turmoils. Some of the scenes are brilliant. Thanks to the film-making brilliance. Such experiments have an overwhelming and everlasting impact on the audience. You realize how cinema can be used as a powerful medium. You train yourself to care about good cinema watching films like "Masaan"and i think this is something such kind of films do beyond what they are normally expected to. The joy of having watched a satisfactory film is one of the best feelings any film-lover will want to have. It has become a rare phenomenon in Indian cinema. Commercial cinema has really cared about reaching the 100 Crore mark rather than providing satisfactory cinema. On one end we have the high grosser films and the other we have films like "Masaan" which mainly get tagged as "festival" films and in between films like "Piku" which is good cinema with a commercial appeal. I feel its time to get these festival films a commercial space. Its wrong for a good film to be bound only by festivals, it needs support from the theaters and mainly from the audience to thrive commercially. This would definitely help bring in a change of sense of cinema and help Indian Cinema grow.
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RangiTaranga (2015)
6/10
Revival of cult classic Guddada Bhootha.
3 July 2015
Rangitaranga (Kannada) is a much decent and an unusual film, probably stands out from the regular trash made in Sandalwood. The plot which draws inspiration from the cult Kannada series "Guddada bhoota" (by Sadanand Suvarna) is cleverly written and is bound to impress for folks who like to see the twists and turns. Whilst most films suffer at the execution level Rangitaranga is surprisingly neat, thanks to the cinematography of William David and Lance Kaplan and background score of Ajaneesh Loknath. The choice of bringing in the DOPs from abroad seems to have created a magical feel. The frames are pretty good and most of the shots are smooth flowing. The background score by Ajaneesh suits the mysterious feel that is much needed for the film and the climax score bit is brilliant. Radhika is brilliant and its good to see that Anup has really helped her getting her to do her best. Nirup playing the main protagonist has really taken the risk. It is a difficult role to play at least for a debut. Though he struggles with his mannerisms he reminded me much of Ajay Devgan in his earlier days. Nirup has some great eyes which he seems to have put into use. The role itself has many shades that its hard to put him under any sort of usual buckets that we have. Hope his work gets noticed and we get to see more of him. Avantika is probably the weakest when it comes to the main characters but she fits in and has performed well. But there is some strange feeling about her dialogue delivery. You will get to know when you probably watch the film. Sai Kumar plays a role which is very different from his usual forte but its hard to say if anyone else would fit that role. Out of the main characters his is the only one character which is native to the region the narrative takes place and the Dakshina Kannada accent seems to have taken a beating, something that needed some thoughts on.

The first half of Rangitaranga goes real good and during the intermission it does put you into thinking mode. However there is a drop as the second half begins, as the narrative gets into a catch up mode going onto flashbacks with back to back songs. Most narratives have this problem of the tempo going down in the beginning of the second half and probably the lengthy flashbacks could have been crisp to keep the experience graph at the same level. Though there are considerably some significant amount of continuity issues in terms of shots which come over there are many things to catch on that these nuances tend to get forgotten. the edits seem to have some issues. There is a problem when you place two scenes side by side , a scene in the night time followed by a shot during the day and again night. This creates a jarring effect and your brain does not digest such transition unless something more important is fed to fade that though out. Some of the characters really do not have much to do with the main plot could have easily be chopped off to shorten the runtime. Rangitaranga does have this shortcomings and could have gotten much better however as a whole the experience what it has to deliver is put across. Its definitely good to see in a new team pitching in the industry which is haunted by big budget boredom remakes. If you are aware of the experience of goosebumps then i got it around thrice and twice during the "Dennana Dennana"
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7/10
A new Perspective to Kannada Cinema! Slow yet Huanting!
28 March 2014
Will Ulidavaru Kandante..As seen by the rest succeed in offering new perspective in cinema ? The answer is probably "Yes".

In the past we did have scripts and films based from coastal-region but this is probably the first one to have captured attention from the rest of the places in the state and obviously the coast. The trailer and music both went viral getting accolades and now it is time for the full feature to be seen by the rest.

I have to admit that Rakshit Shetty's debut directorial venture transported me to Dakshina Kannada landscapes sitting right in center of Bangalore. The atmosphere lasted for over more than two hours. Rakshit has chosen a script which is well woven starting with the right note to capture your attention right from the first frame. Unlike prominent Kannada Cinema "Ulidavaru Kandante" gives more prominence to the characters. This is out and out a character driven script. There is a story to be told and the story is narrated quite interestingly. Multiple view points have been used in films for decades, its success or failure depends on the art and facility with which it can aid the story being told. Rakshit has grandly succeed in his efforts. In the past we have witnessed "Yuva", "Memento," "Hero," "Irreversible", "Amores Perros" that use various perceptions of facts. What these films all have in common is that the visual device used does not get in the way of the story but enhances it. "Ulidavaru Kandante" too falls in this league.

The film as such is presented in a chapter-wise manner where in each chapter allows you to explore each character visually. There is a reason why these characters exist in the space of the film. There are a few which could have been avoided. The actors have done a commendable job in giving life to the characters. Rakshit, Rishab, Kishore, Achyut in pivotal roles deserve appreciation. I know Achyut is not a native of Dakshina Kannada but the way he has presented himself just shows his strength and versatility. I recently watched few of his offbeat films and watching him in this role was a pleasure. Rakshit's "charisma", Rishab's "fear", Kishore's "feeling", Achyuta's feeling, fear and irritation with "Kaaki" will be remembered. The child actors also have pulled in splendid performance. Poojary, Tara, Sangita, Yagna and folks who have played Rakshit's accomplice have provided great support to the main characters. I believe this film will go down as one of the best acted films. The actors are so natural and casual it does not feel like they are really acting out on the screen.

Karm Chawla's cinematography, Ajaneesh's BG score, sync sound succeeds in providing the much necessary atmospheric experience. The coastal landscapes are brilliantly captured and presented. Having know these places personally it gives you a great feeling to watch them on big screen. The color scheming and VFX does need a special mention. Who would not want to try out the "Sin City" like shot? Wow! The BG score is haunting and goes well with the film. A couple of songs "Paper Paper" and "Gati" seems out of place as far as narrative is concerned. Probably this has more to do with commercial aspects. "Kanna Muchhe", "Kaakig Banna" match with the narrative. Especially the way they have brought in "Kaakig Banna" is simply brilliant. Hats off to Achyut making this a memorable song even though it is in the near end of the film. If you pay attention to the sound design and sound capture you might feel a lot of background noise being captured. Especially during the Tiger painting scene. There is a sudden drop in the sound levels at times. We are in an era where in sync sound is picking up gradually. Its at a very few instances where in the sound capture is kind of average but at a overall level it gives you a phenomenal experience in listening to the speech with the inner expressions. In a way "Ulidavaru Kandante" is technically brilliant film-making.

The film though entertaining and satisfactory comes with few negatives. The first being the run-time. The film starts of with a great pace but gets slow from the second chapter on-wards. If it was a bit tight it would have been more perfect than what it is now. Some audience are bound to get tired. Never mind you cant keep everyone happy. The other factor is the penetration of this film beyond Karnataka. This film is high on the tradition, dialect and lifestyle of the coastal region. It would be interesting to see how this could interest people from other states. Lucia had a great success in this aspect. I wonder if "Ulidavaru Kandante" can achieve this. We will have to wait and watch on how this is received and propagated.

Two things. Be calm and patient while watching this. It is not an edge of seat thriller. Give the film some time to get it on to you. Do not expect a "wow" climax. Just watch the perspectives and bring out your own
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The Good Road (2013)
6/10
The Good Road is not so smooth to ride or drive.
25 September 2013
I have grown up watching cinemas from NFDC. From the past one year NFDC has been doing a great job in restoring good Indian cinema and releasing them on home video. I respect to most of the movies that have come under the NFDC banner. In parallel to restoration NFDC is also releasing new films and "The Good Road" is one such. There was a bit noise about this when it got released a few months back but it did not get any kind of attention. I kind of lost on this until NFDC released it under home video recently. Another important reason why cinephiles are watching this one is due to its nomination for Oscars and how it compares and contrasts with much acclaimed "Lunchbox". I have not watched Lunchbox and hence cannot provide nay kind of comparison. The Good Road has a good plot. It captivates your attention in the first few minutes. You get a feel that its not a routine kind of cinema. You witness some great cinematography but what it lacks is the kind of emotions that the characters need to have in this plot. You feel deceived when you see the characters acting badly with almost no expressions and emotions. The film falls flat midway and embraces a predictable path. It does engage till you end with bit frustrating moments here and there. Had it been well executed and well acted it would have created much necessary magic. I would be super surprised if this makes some noise at Oscars.
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7/10
Thought Provoking!
24 September 2013
Is privacy dead? Let us get this under control before it is too late. Frightening and thought provoking. Makes me wonder what Indian govt. is doing in this area if at all it is. An eye-opener sort of documentary which deserves more than one time watch especially while we are in this era where in most of us are making digital transactions. Impact of this? I was entertained, stunned but on the other side this made me realize that I better be careful on what I post, mail and tweet. The film-maker has done extensive research and is clear on where and on what context this film needs to pitch in. He has intelligently made use of found footage, interviews of target victims. And yes, you need guts to get Mark Zuckerberg on the camera and confront him and get him say what you want. This probably is one of the major highlight of this film.
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Lucia (I) (2013)
8/10
An Alternate Kannada Cinema of Thriller Genre
5 September 2013
Watched the much awaited, much hyped, crowd funded Kannada film "Lucia". Was/Is it worth the hype? Why did it win the audience award? Read on!!

I have been following on this film right from its initial days. Probably a time-line which goes couple of years back. There were many positives as well as fears on the process of how this film was made. Many in my friends circle doubted about the film but they wanted the process of crowd funding to succeed. But i stuck myself on the aspect of how this film will come-by as an end product and how it will look like on the silver screen. I have had little bit conversation on Lucia with Pawan before and for me thriller is one genre if not made well, immediately gets me angry, dissatisfied and feel like being cheated. Pawan Kumar surprised me today with Lucia. He exceeded my expectation. Its not about the process of crowd funding nor the stars who came to watch this but the film itself is so brilliant that my eyes went moist just because of the joy of cinema. Believe me i mean it when i state that this kind of film script attempt has never ever been tried before, forget about Sandalwood, not even in Tollywood or Bollywood. Pawan will be envied as a filmmaker as he has raised his bar too high and it will be challenging for him and interesting for us to see how he breaks this bar with his next ventures.

"Lucia" is path-breaking. There are no big stars in the film but it works because of the strong script, the twisted narration, outstanding cinematography (every frame was magical), honest performances by the entire star-cast no matter they played major or minor roles. Technically this is extremely well handled film. Even the art direction is brilliant. I do not have to say about the music as it is already popular. One important aspect about songs is that the songs fit in sync with the script. It is hard to get a sync of song and the script. Only a thoughtful filmmaker can handle this efficiently.

If you still think that this did not convince you here are more reasons on why you should watch this film. - You like movies by Chris Nolan (Inception),David Fincher (Fight Club), Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Diparadiso), Alejandro Amenabar (Open Your Eyes) then Lucia is a must watch. - You follow world cinema and appreciate thrillers then here is an Indian regional movie of that caliber. You ought to try this one. It has English subtitles so it should not matter for you the fact that this is a Kannada or regional film. - You like to be surprised while you watch a movie then do watch this. This is not an edge of seat thriller but a profound and surreal psychological thriller. - This is a "bring your brain to theater" movie very much in contrast to Rohit Shetty / SRKs Chennai Express.

I have not mentioned anything about the story-line as i want you to experience "Lucia", the ALTERNATE KANNADA CINEMA all by yourself.
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