Despite flaws, Bell Bottom is an enjoyable crime comedy

Despite flaws, Bell Bottom is an enjoyable crime comedy

Despite the flaws, Bell Bottom is the first well-made Kannada film of 2019.

Film: Bell Bottom 

Director: Jayatheertha 

Cast: Rishab Shetty, Haripriya, Achyuth Kumar, 

Stars: 3.5 

Some combinations trigger great curiosity. Jayatheertha and Rishab Shetty are directors with distinctive styles. Both entered the scene when Kannada cinema was witnessing a drastic change for the better. And both richly contributed to the movement with their body of works.

When you cast a director for the lead role, how much of the movie is director-influenced? Is there an exchange of ideas? How true can each of them remain to their respective roles? These questions cropped up when Bell Bottom was announced.

In his sixth venture, Jayatheertha offers another thriller. When Drishyam took the Indian cinema audience by storm, the Jeethu Joseph film introduced an interesting genre called 'family thriller'. Like Drishyam, almost every scene holds a strong value to the story in Bell Bottom. And like the Malayalam flick, Bell Bottom reminds Kannada filmmakers of a forgotten concept. While Bell Bottom is no 'family thriller', it is an enjoyable comedy thriller.

'Defective' Divakara (Rishab), is a die-hard fan of detective stories. His ambition of becoming a famous detective is crushed by his constable father (Achyuth). Forced to join the police department, the unhappy Divakara's life is spiced up by an intriguing case.

Set in the 80s, Bell Bottom is a film that depends heavily on the backdrop. Even in the simplest of scenes, there exists a pleasant mood thanks to the careful detailing in the art direction and costumes. Bell Bottom's retro world is made fresh and energetic by the appealing cinematography by Arvind Kashyap and the crackling one-liners.

Bell Bottom doesn't make you sit on the edge of your seats throughout and that's where it falls short of Drishyam. It could have accommodated for more breath-taking moments. Jayatheertha has really interesting ideas. He intends to throw in aspects like psychology and superstition into the story but the ideas remain nice in the head but fall short in execution, denting the screenplay.

The final portion, just after the big reveal, is a bit of a let down. Jayatheertha's films aren't complete without a touch of social angle. But one wonders how better the film could have been if it was allowed to remain as a pure thriller.

Rishab makes a roaring acting debut. He has an innate knack of keeping the audience invested, be it behind the camera or in front of it. There is a high level of likeability in his performance. Like a child let free in a park, Rishab has a lot of fun in Bell Bottom. Achyuth once again is effective and at this rate, it seems like he is challenging directors to throw more complex roles at him.

Bell Bottom is Jayatheertha's most focused film. The early portions, which shows Divakara's interest in detective stories is brilliantly shot. He joins the dots in the end with fine control.

Despite the flaws, Bell Bottom is Sandalwood's first well-made film of 2019.