Holding a mirror to social malfeasance

Vasundara Lang: Kannada (U) ***
Director: T S NagabharanaCast: Aishwaraya Nag, Rajesh, Jayanti, Pannaga Bharana, Nagabharana, Bharat Kalyan, Avinash Jugari, Dharma, Sudharani, 

Nagabharana, like his illustrious peers, is an auteur given to making films with deep social messages, with cinematic aesthetics as core. Given his theatrical moorings, Nagabharana's oeuvres spotlight on dying arts and traditional folklore forms, while, at times, taking a shy at commercial formats.

His Vasundara, as he posits, refers to Mother Earth, who, as sustainer of life forms, is the very embodiment of patience and perseverance. To illustrate his premise, Nagabharana, has in Aishwaraya Nag, an outgoing, individualistic and free-thinking female, reprising the eponymous role. 

However, Vasundara, as Nagabharana says, which seeks to open the minds of modern day youth to happenings in society, by traversing time-tested commercial trail, dilutes its serious purpose.

Rather than turn his narrative into a riveting tale told with sensitivity of subject, eschewing commercial calling, Nagabharana allows himself to be snared in the very trap he wants to be free from. Songs, needless digressions, loud theatrics, the film has aplenty, which, one wishes were shorn off and quintessential concern concentrated upon. Right from a cycle bomb blast, which forms the template, and its protagonist's struggle to come out unscathed of the terrorist-abettor label society foists on her, Nagabharana turns Vasundara into a racy thriller rather than a sensitive telling of malfeasance that has set in our modern society and subtle character study.

By touching upon too many themes – terrorism to television TRP ratings to pharmaceutical skulduggery in spurious pesticide trade, looking at marginalised people with preconceived terrorist tag, Nagabharana is caught in the tsunami of his own creation that the singular woman's fight against societal wrongs is ruefully tossed to winds. 

How a well-meaning doctor Vasundara and an honest Muslim scientist Dr Afroz Pasha are caught in the maelstrom of self-serving TV channel honcho and pesticide company owner’s nefarious designs forms the film’s fulcrum. 

Nagabharana could have turned Vasundara into well crafted, nuanced and evocatively done discerning cinema. Sad, the film turns more into mediocre outing than nifty and neat Nagabharana fare. Still, Vasundara deserves serious dekko despite its many short-comings. 

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