Movie review: ‘Gantumoote’ is a must-watch

Kannada film Gantumoote, now showing, deserves full marks for its tender moments and wise message

Teju Belawadi plays Meera in this tender coming-of-age story.

It is not every day that you see a film getting a standing ovation as the end credits roll. Gantumoote is such a film.

The Kannada film, now showing in Bengaluru, follows the story of a woman whose high-school experience changes and defines the way she lives. It is a story of exam stress and young love, of bullies in class and kisses stolen at the movies.  The theme is universal, and talks about the coming of age of a teen girl. Narrated by Meera, the story is a flashback to her high school days in the Bengaluru of the 1990s.

Director Roopa Rao’s treatment is simple and sensitive and often humorous. Gantumoote moves at the leisurely pace of nostalgia. Meera’s character is established in the first few scenes. She sneaks out of her house to watch a film alone. Here she first encounters the big bad world; a man slides his hand up her thigh. Although not old enough to realise what it means, she knows it is bad. The defining moment comes when she goes back into the hall to continue watching the film: she isn’t going to let anyone ruin her movie experience. 

Her fascination with film continues, with Salman Khan from ‘Hum Apke Hai Kaun’ becoming her dream man. Eventually, she falls in love with classmate Madhusudhan (Nishchith Korodi), after seeing hints of Salman in him. The story of love takes centrestage. 

Even within the love story, it is Meera’s journey that the camera follows. An incident the movie handles expertly is Meera getting bullied. She expects Madhu to fight for her like “the hero fights the villain in the movies”, but he doesn’t. It is her battle and she fights it with ease and elegance. In a subtle way, the film shows her realising she is the hero. 

Tender moments of love are captured by Sahadev Kelvadi on a camera that is never voyeuristic. The film embraces its silences, many times cutting out the background score for ambient sound. This gives an immersive effect, and we are able to feel what Meera is feeling because we hear what she is hearing.

The screenplay is carefully crafted, with enough time devoted for Meera to make sense of everything happening around her. It never gets too heavy, with jokes flowing through the script seamlessly, and getting laughs that don’t feel forced. 

Teju steals the spotlight and rightly so. If you are unfamiliar with her, it is hard to believe she isn’t a teenager. Even with a simple glance, she manages to convey complex emotions. Nishchith also does justice as a slightly adrift, charming love interest. His character never upstages Meera, but commands attention on his own. A quibble: why does the screen fade to black for so many transitions, and why does the colour look uneven? 

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