Building a brand, step by step

Building a brand, step by step

Gajakesari
Kannada (U/A)
Director: Krishna
Cast: Yash, Amulya, Anant Nag and others

Riding on the success of Raja Huli, here comes Yash in and as Gajakesari. First day, first show. An almost full theatre audience, sits patiently through the nearly two-and-a-half hour runtime. Here's why.

1. First directorial by the man who executed Yogaraj Bhat's vision well in Mungaaru Male — while also showing heartbroken, silly lovers another place to lose courage and interest in life in Jog Falls. The man, whose cinematography in “Ee sanje yaakaagide...” of Geleya is still no less than all the 'Bollywood-Hollywood level' in all its vibrant glory.

2. Camerawork handled lovingly and intelligently by another maverick who swears by the motto “less is more”, while unravelling the light-shadow magic in spectacular fashion.

3. Impressive graphics work that doesn’t go overboard, baring all its glaring shortcomings thereby.

4. The excellent and appropriate locales, deep in Sabarimala forests. A denuded Karnataka would have found it hard to sustain the plot and viewer interest in it.

5. Elephants — well-fed, healthy looking and roaming casually all over with NO chains!

6. Anant Nag in “khaavi” — restoring some lost dignity to the saffron robe.

7. Fine footwork by Yash and Co, coached very well by Harsha.

8. Fight masters Raviverma, Ganesh and Kannal Kannan.

9. Director Krishna’s sense of proportion in presenting Amulya — allowing the actress to slowly shed her child-woman image and turn into the proverbial beautiful swan—looks and voice-wise.

10. Humour element doesn't deteriorate into some competitive crassfest. Rangayana Raghu and Sadhu Kokila with Yash carry off the scenes pretty well, with an endearing take on “Annavru” and his “Abhimaani Devathegalu”.

11. “Hyder Ali” Shahbaz Khan speaks Kannada much better than most Mumbai imports.

But there are a few things to be picky about as well.

1. The shadow of Bhajarangi looms up every now and then, right from when Girija Lokesh asks her “wayward” son to come to the Mutt. The sense of deja vu grows stronger with the sojourn at a remote hamlet/village where the hero finally finds a pre-appointed purpose in life.

2. Harikrishna’s music has a factory feel to it. Perhaps peaking creatively in Raaj The Showman, the composer has clung to a few templates repeated in Paramaathma, Anna Bond and the like. The last duet shot at Petra comes too late.

3. The same song suffers from inappropriate placement and dragging the film some.

4. Setting the history part of the film 360 years ago, names like Dantidurga (the Rashtrakuta dynasty founder) becomes a kingdom ruled by Virat and “factoids” like the king trying to invade Karunadu to assuage his grief of losing his father.

5. The rumoured fight scene involving 15 elephants remaining just that. Yet, dialogue writer Santhosh Anandram keeps the audience engrossed and entertained. He does a fine job of building Brand Yash.

But with the gentle giants not seemingly hurt during the film, Gajakesari makes for a gripping entertainer.

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