'KGF' is our answer to 'Baahubali'

Ever since its terrific trailer was out, talk about the Prashanth Neel-directed film, starring Yash, has travelled beyond the boundaries of Kannada cinema.

Anticipation around a big film is normal, but this is different. For Kannada film lovers, the nervous energy is at a never-before high. If the process of making films was a war field, then Sandalwood is set to unleash its biggest weapon on December 21.

Traditionally, ‘Khan films’ have an unwritten right on the Christmas season. One of Bollywood’s three superstars hogs the limelight when a year winds down. Whether the film deserves it or not, there is enough buzz around it. Its entry into the Rs 100-crore club is duly celebrated a couple of days after the film’s release.

Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero, which looks intriguing, is 2018’s year-end ‘Khan film’. The veteran actor is no longer a hit machine. But if you think King Khan still automatically deserves a free run, you are wrong. Because, like a wild tusker taking on the king of the jungle, KGF: Chapter 1 is ready to battle it out with Bollywood’s biggest film of the year.

Ever since its terrific trailer was out, talk about the Prashanth Neel-directed film, starring Yash, has travelled beyond the boundaries of Kannada cinema. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that there is no Indian entertainment channel on YouTube that doesn’t have an interview with the film crew.

Is too much too bad? Definitely not for the Kannada film industry. KGF is an important film for the industry. The film’s members call KGF an ‘Indian’ film but that’s only a reflection of their courtesy. The reality remains that this is a film made by people of Karnataka and is a Kannada film that is out to entertain viewers in four languages (dubbed in Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Hindi).

Even some of the best in the business of writing and talking about Indian cinema aren’t well versed with the progress of Kannada cinema.

A couple of weeks ago, an interviewer from a popular film website called Mungaru Male Sandalwood’s highest grosser. Seven years after the 2007 classic was released, Yash’s Mr and Mrs Ramachari, a first-rate entertainer, broke the Rs 50-crore mark, only to be surpassed by last year’s Puneeth Rajkumar-starrer Raajakumara.

There are more examples of lack of awareness. Recently, one of Hindi cinema’s blockbuster directors, also a distributor of a couple of big budget films from the South, had a list of favourite films in Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam but none in Kannada.        

Sandalwood has produced some ‘quietly brilliant’ films like Lucia and Thithi in the recent past. But these films have appealed only to a niche audience. In this context, KGF’s triumph, even before its release, lies in is the stupendous reach it has gained across the country.

Director Prashanth Neel’s debut Ugramm was a tad loud. But the film provided an adrenaline rush and gave viewers a glimpse of Prashanth’s imagination. Yash stands out for his careful choice of films. From the promotional visuals, the care for the craft is evident in KGF. The grand scale makes the film ambitious.

It’s obvious that S S Rajamouli’s films Baahubali (1 and 2) inspired the KGF team. But Sandalwood needs its own ‘big’ film. The industry has performed like a flickering light. With KGF, the sun could finally shine bright.

For now, Sandalwood holds its breath! 

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