'Pogaru' movie review: A riot of toxic masculinity

'Pogaru' movie review: A riot of toxic masculinity

To see ‘Pogaru’ even from the lens of a ‘commercial cinema entertainer’ is difficult because no effort has gone into building strong character arcs.

The official poster of 'Pogaru'. Credit: IMDb

Director: Nanda Kishore  

Cast: Dhruva Sarja, Rashmika Mandanna, Chikkanna, Ravi Shankar, Mayuri  

Rating: 1/5

The ‘mother sentiment’ is one of Kannada cinema’s favourite themes, so much so that the idea is used to sell jaded, illogical, and mind-numbingly poor stories. 

In ‘Pogaru’, the hero Shiva (Dhruva Sarja) goes rogue because he grew up alone in an orphanage, missing his mother’s love. He cannot forgive his mother for marrying another man. His disappointment turns into fury towards society (only the director can justify this human behaviour). Shiva does everything possible to petrify people around him. He is aimless and finds happiness in lawless activities that fetch him quick money. 

It is excruciating to sit through such stereotypes that demean women. Shiva preaches to, roughs up, and verbally threatens women around him, including the heroine (Rashmika). What is worse is that despite his unforgivable acts, the women babysit him because he is supposedly a 'man with a golden heart’. Even to this date, ‘masala’ filmmakers’ fascination for the ‘macho man flooring a timid girl’ remains as strong as ever. 

To see ‘Pogaru’ even from the lens of a ‘commercial cinema entertainer’ is difficult because no effort has gone into building strong character arcs. The film gets muddled in its contrasting plot points. Despite being ill-treated by the hero throughout the film, people of the locality pray for his safety in the climax. Without receiving an iota of respect from him, the heroine welcomes him into her life with open arms. The film’s upholding of toxic masculinity is glaring.   

What about the villains? Well, there are a dozen, including four world-famous bodybuilders. All for a story that is as old as the hills. To see people in power-grabbing the land of the underprivileged and eventually getting bashed up by the hero is yawn-inducing. ‘Pogaru’ was marketed as an ambitious project four years in the making. Isn’t that enough time for a good script? 

The film is a delight for the ‘Gandhi class’ audience. One only hopes their celebrations end right at the exit doors and they take nothing from the film too seriously. 

Two concluding and sad facts. Dhruva Sarja’s talent has been trapped in the ‘superstar’ image and Chandan Shetty has made a disappointing debut as a music director.