Beware of the monster in saint's garb

Beware of the monster  in saint's garb

Umesha
Kannada (A) ¬¬
Director: Ashok Kumar R
Cast: Jithendra Joe Simon, Viola Mathews, Nilofer
Dahamver, Joe Simon and others

Is the pot calling kettle black or vice versa? Filmmakers have for long been passing the responsibility on the audience to get an entertaining, yet healthy film of its choice while the audience, so far, had grumbled about declining standards and morals in society, thanks to films that took too many liberties.

Not anymore. The common man, for whom films are still supposed to be made, has “come of age” and is so accommodating that today, evil is glorified while the good, the bland but tough good, is fast losing flavour. With Srinivasaraju’s Dandupalya providing the impetus to shed any inhibition “imposed” by morality, cinema remains open to any kind of interpretation. Never mind kids who imitate actors and hang themselves or molest girls even older to them or rapists, who do not have any remorse but only regret and outrage at being caught (finally) and punished. 

Two filmmakers vied to bring serial rapist-killer Umesh Reddy’s life before the public and Ashok Kumar’s version is now in theatres. Neither a documentary nor a drama, the film, strictly from a cinema student’s viewpoint, suffers from shaky and purposely meandering camerawork and incessantly loud music that is effective in heightening the tension and trauma for some viewers at least. Baby Nagaraj’s editing helps too. Acting is surprisingly above average, with Joe Simon’s son making a chilling debut. A new Kannada cine-villain is born. Newcomers Viola Mathews and Nilofer are good while Joe Simon and Vishwanath have little to do.

Ashok Kumar weaves in a plausible story but with plenty of loopholes which get overlooked as the film nears climax. He takes support from 6th century Italian killers to the Thugs of North India of the 18th Century to the ones found aplenty in the US today…

The censors have done their job. Yet, the feeling of disquiet refuses to leave, even if Umesha is supposedly a “ fictionalised” true account of a killer. Strengthening the belief that some are up to no good, the film ends with the promise of a sequel. But given the audience reaction when the screen Umesha escapes from jail, consequences are too horrible to imagine.

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