Katheyondu Shuruvagide review: Romantic film upgraded

A scene from Katheyondu shuruvagide

Katheyondu Shuruvagide

Kannada (U)

Director: Senna Hegde

Cast:  Diganth, Pooja Devariya, Babu Hirannaiah, Aruna Balaraj,  Ashwin Rao Pallakki,  Prakash Thumminad, Shreya Anchan

Rating: ***

The film opens in bokeh-ish freeze-frame; a man in outline, looking up at the sky in what might be hope or despair. We are returned to this frame a couple of hours later, and then those doubts are laid to rest.

The man looking up is Tarun (Diganth), an entrepreneur whose struggling resort gets one booking from a North Indian couple. When one half of the couple turns up, in the form of Tanya Mehra (Pooja Devariya), we know that things are going to happen, as they inevitably do in such films.

We are offered a Hollywood-ish upgrade of the romantic film, with some bows in the direction of the Hindi film Queen. The romantic bits are, quite frankly, sahasra-yawny despite their being carefully underplayed and adroitly avoiding Nicholas Shakespeare territory.

And yet, the overall effect is far from irritating. A hardy strain of realism and making-do leavens the romantic hogwash. Diganth doesn't have to do very much beyond turn on a loose-limbed, easy charm. Pooja Devariya brings a gift for being natural to the screen.

There are ideas darting in and out of the film, and a general ambition that is worth appreciating. One of these ideas is a curiosity about the fantasy of return —Tarun returns from riches in the US to run a resort, and Mrs Mehra turns out to have Mysore roots — and a very nicely modulated Kannadiga exceptionalism. These could have been given a little more air.

Equally fascinating is the no-place where the film/resort is set—part Puducherry, part Kudla, and one moment of Misty Mountain Hop.

Senna Hegde brings a sharp sense of detail to his work with the script. One such moment is when Tarun fiddles with the car radio to find something worth playing and goes from station after station playing Bollywood music and a NaMo speech before giving up grumpily. I haven’t seen the Kannadiga's quest for a place in the sun captured with so much economy ever before.

Hegde also puts much energy into the writing of smaller parts. Babu Hirannaiah, Aruna Balaraj, Shreya Anchan and Prakash Thumminad dazzle in these parts. Ashwin Rao Pallakki's bumbling pursuit of English and romance and Dubai is a little gem of characterisation. His "I love you... from inside-u" moment should be preserved somewhere.

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Katheyondu Shuruvagide review: Romantic film upgraded

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