All the goodness can't win love

All the goodness can't win love

autoraja
Kannada (U/A) ¬¬¬
Cast:  Ganesh, Bhamaa, Deepika Kamaiah and others
Director: Uday Prakash H C

Brickbats and teeth-gnashing aside (in most cases truly deserving), autorickshaw drivers are among the most abused and abusive lot of worker-bees that build a thriving society hive. They are ready tools for change - for worse, for better. The late Shankar Nag’s Auto Raja (released in 1980) threw them in spotlight while catapulting a maverick into social consciousness as an icon.

His words in the film carry a weight of their own to this day. His legacy has endured mainly because he cemented a place in the hearts of generations of autorickshaw drivers, espousing many of their now-vanishing sterling qualities. And the middle-class, largely dependent on these “chaffeurs with an attitude,” who conveniently forget shared class aspirations and struggles.

Thirty-three years later, Uday Prakash becomes another director to test this phenomenon. He makes ample use of the Karate King’s dialogues in Autoraja to drive a poorly constructed love story forward. Shorn of Shankar’s presence, it is yet another run-of-the-mill stuff. Indeed, the screenplay strongly brings Sudeep-Ramya’s Mussanje Maatu to mind.

To add insult to injury, the animated version of Shankar Nag brings on an irritation that one could do without. Bangalore is home to some of the world’s finest animators supporting scores of Hollywood projects (the perceived barometer of success).

Yet, the cartoon Shankar appears as though his face and vocal chords are pinched and twisted. The acoustics at Kapali is equally responsible for the fiasco. The mimicking of Nag’s voice doesn’t help the film’s cause after a while, appearing sometimes to be ridiculing the legend. A little meticulousness would have surely helped.

But there are things to look forward to in this film. Beginning with Ganesh himself. The hero and actor has limited opportunity to engulf all the women’s hearts in the audience while taking the paddes along. Still, he manages to turn in a decent performance and ends up like a well-set batsman who runs out of partners.

Deepika Kamaiah, who charmed people in Harsha’s Chingaari, ends up looking out of place. Her sober and stern demeanour doesn’t help her character grow. But it is Bhamaa who makes the most out of her role, even snagging a chance to show her new glam avatar, which is quite nice, but unnecessary in the film.

Yoganand Muddan’s dialogues, when one can finally hear what’s being said, oscillates between coarse and timely. Arjun Janya has a rollicking time and again, the paddes get to jump in the aisles before forgetting the songs altogether unlike Naliva Gulabi Hoove..., Hosa Baalu Ninninda..., Nanna Aase Hannagi... and others of the original (Comparison, alas, becomes inevitable after sometime). Manjunath Nayak’s cinematography is fine and Prakash’s scissors do a good job too.

There are plenty of dialogues singing paeans of auto drivers’ virtues– sufficient to draw in the brethren as well as the college-going crowd. But this Autoraja never takes off like the original. Sigh!

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