'KGF' movie review: Kannada cinema enters big leagues

Last Updated : 26 December 2018, 08:08 IST

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Director: Prashanth Neel

Starring: Yash, Anant Nag

Score: 4/5

Moments before the start of KGF: Chapter 1, this famous quote from Sylvia Plath rushed through my mind: “If you expect nothing from somebody, you are never disappointed.”

A very relatable thought, indeed. However, expectation and art are inseparable. And this was KGF, a film that placarded the country with heavy words like ‘history’, ‘big’ and ‘grand’. Plus, this was commercial -- a genre in which film-makers can’t hold their horses before throwing in the mundane stuff like the comedy tracks and a set number of songs.

However, a few scenes into Prashanth Neel’s second directorial venture, you sit upright with confidence. Because, for KGF’s team, cinema is bigger than anything else and the grandeur lies in telling a fantastically gripping story.

Rocky (Yash), a power-hungry youngster, is the most feared man of Bombay. “Die as the richest and the strongest man,” says his mother. And he sets out to be that as fate takes him to Bangalore and then lands in the bloody mines of the Kolar Gold Fields (KGF).

The story of a young boy uprooting the system in Mumbai reminds you of Mani Ratnam’s Nayakan. There is the famous Baahubali moment, when the helpless at the KGF find their hero in Rocky. The resemblance is shockingly close but you forget and forgive them soon thanks to the diligent film-making

KGF’s non-linear narration offers a mostly-steady experience and when you have Anant Nag, one of the classiest storytellers of our times, the job is half done for the director.

Apart from the initial portions, which seem rushed, editor Shrikanth cuts the scenes brilliantly. For a movie of an epic stature, this kind of editing works well. And we keep getting brilliant sets. Art director Shiva Kumar recreates the charm of old Bombay, the feel of old Bangalore and gets the raw backdrop of KGF to near-perfection.

There is too much happening in KGF yet you don’t lose focus thanks to Prashanth’s approach. His thinking isn’t on the lines of ‘introduce hero, rush to the story and defeat the bad guy’. On the other hand, he designs spectacular hero introduction and elevation scenes, riveting sequences and constructs characters which you root for.

And Prashanth’s intelligence in handling the hero is a lesson for many filmmakers working with stars. The slow motions, camera angles and background scores are placed aptly for the hero, making KGF the biggest mass entertainer of the year.

For the rise of power, for the birth of a hero, for the helplessness and the angst of the masses and for the moment of victory, Ravi Basrur gives background score with aplomb. Cinematographer Bhuvan Gowda shines with his lighting.

With KGF, Yash makes a big statement. This is his Zanjeer moment. He sinks his teeth into the angry-young man-idea of Indian cinema and comes out victorious. Not many can deliver dialogue with so much swag as he does. The film could be the beginning of brand Yash.

KGF could have skipped an action sequence. In fact, most of the action sequences are a bit jarring. The item song featuring Tammanah Bhatia and the love track is ridiculously boring. But these are minor flaws.

The dialogues delightfully reflect the state of Kannada film industry. “Nambike horte hoytu”, repeats an old man at KGF. Yes, the belief of Sandalwood producing a spectacle was diminishing. “Neen nintidya anta nin hinde saavra jana nintre, prapancha ne gelbodu.” Yes, KGF can inspire many from the industry to dream big. But the best one: “Ashtu doora haarogiradu nodidya”?. Yes, has there been a film in recent times that has soared high like KGF?

When it comes to magnificence, we have seen an epic of a king from the Telugu states. The Tamil industry produced an entertaining and groundbreaking sci-fi franchise. Hindi cinema is holding on to an ageing Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Finally, Sandalwood has its own story of splendour

The second part is coming up. We wait again. With expectations of course but also with assurance.

Published 21 December 2018, 07:43 IST

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