Review: An overwhelming nostalgic trip

Review: An overwhelming nostalgic trip


Film: Nagarahavu

Kannada (U)

Cast: Vishnuvardhan, Arathi, K S Ashwath, Shubha, Ambareesh, Leelavathi, Shivaram, Dheerendra Gopal, Loknath, Vajramuni

Director: S R Puttana Kanagal

Rating: 5 (out of 5 stars)

Old is gold. Of nothing can that be truer than the 45-year-old golden oldie Nagarahavu. This monumental and iconic cult classic, which went on to break box office records, is a remarkable sojourn down memory lane.

An overwhelming sense of nostalgia engulfs one as you watch the refurbished Nagarahavu in cinemascope and 7.1 surround sound format, unfold before you.

It may have come in a new avatar thanks to Balaji and Sri Eswari Productions with modern technology playing a pivotal role in its resurrection.

But the impeccable, inimitable stamp of Puttana Kanagal's class, the engaging, educative and more importantly entertaining soulful saga of a badass beau, with a pure heart of gold, is indeed truly masterclass.

The film, which pitchforked two of Kannada cinema's stalwarts, Vishnuvardhan and Ambareesh, into superstardom, in its present, pristine form, provides for a refreshing revisit of the classic and fantastic study into how a film can be made on its basic premise of providing unsullied entertainment, without compromising even an iota on the aesthetics of engaging cinema.

In fact, at a time when Gandhinagar's very many aspiring debutants are spinning out virtually trash with herd mentality in regurgitating regularity, Puttana Kanagal's Nagarahavu comes as a welcome monsoon shower so soothing that it makes you sit and savour every frame of it.

What makes Nagarahavu, based on eminent writer T R Subba Rao's three stories — Nagarahavu, Ondu Gandu Eradu Hennu and Sarpa mathsara — a superlative study in holistic filmmaking is right from Puttanna's skilful, deft scripting, to Vijaya Bhaskar's evergreen songs, to Chittibabu's enterprising cinematography and above all the ensemble performances of each of the strong cast, makes Nagarahavu, an oeuvre so pitch perfect in all its entirety.

The film, which at its pith, is about the unquestionable bond between a wayward, haughty, mercurial and easily combustible proud pupil Ramachari, and the ever understanding and childless Chamayya master whose his unimpeachable faith in his stubborn student, as a subtext is also a triangular cupid drama in whose tenacious tentacles a headstrong, snappy and unflinching Ramachari is innocuously snared into.

Blessed with a righteous heart but unable to conform to the severe societal norms and dictates sees Ramachari, who is torn between an equally perky and combative Margaret and a docile, traditional Alamelu, at the receiving end of societal opprobrium of his fiery ways.

It would be futile to recapitulate the entire story here which is etched in the recess of every Kannada cinema audience, especially, Puttanna Kanagal's admirers and Vishuvardhan and Ambareesh's worshippers. Apart from the two, be it Aarathi or Shubha or Ashwath, each of the characters has lived their role lifelike.

Indeed, for those who believe in the cinema of the old and would like to take that pleasurable trip down nostalgia lane, Nagarahavu is an apt ambrosia for a weekend at the theatres with the family and friends and reminiscence of those golden years of cinema.

It is also time to pause for a moment and salute the genius of Sandalwood called S R Puttanna Kanagal.

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