Stars dim in year that was

KGF, released late in 2018, had set high expectations for big-star films. But 2019 saw many films with less-known actors stealing the thunder

The superstars of Kannada cinema didn’t enjoy a fruitful 2019. Success is measured by box-office numbers and no big star apart from Darshan set the cash register ringing.
With three hits in ‘Yajamana’, ‘Kurukshetra’ and ‘Odeya’, Darshan resurrected himself.

A hit film though isn’t a guarantee for quality content. Sandalwood lacked films that had stars performing instead of entertaining. A handful of newcomers brilliantly anchored inventive stories. Kannada films this year didn’t offer enough scope for female actors but a couple of rookies were convincing in challenging roles.

As we welcome a new year, here is the list of those leading actors who made an impact on the audience and those who faltered.

Not a year for stars

‘KGF’, released on the second-last Friday of 2018, was the talk of Sandalwood throughout 2019. Yash’s popularity sky-rocketed across the country and that has raised expectations from its sequel. His contemporaries in Sandalwood, though, failed to hog the limelight.

‘Natasaarvabhowma’ and ‘Pailwaan’ were bland affairs that didn’t do justice to the acting abilities of Puneeth Rajkumar and Sudeep, respectively. Shivarajkumar’s earnest efforts couldn’t salvage the ordinary plots of ‘Aayushman Bhava’ and ‘Kavacha’. Even as these stars grappled with out-of-date scripts, it was Ganesh who stepped out of his comfort zone.

Debutant Vijay Nagendra’s ‘Geetha’ was by far the best attempt at providing one of Kannada cinema’s finest romantic heroes a mass image. Ganesh isn’t over the top in the portions that show the Gokak agitation. His anger and punch dialogues are organic and don’t seem forced.

Before ‘Geetha’, Ganesh played a photographer suffering from a heart-break in ‘99’, a remake of Tamil’s run-away hit ‘96’. Romance is a stroll in the park for Ganesh. But this was a tricky character. As a man self-destructed in love, Ganesh, in the role essayed by the great Vijay Sethupathi in the original, added another layer to the character by brilliantly pulling off the familiar pang of heartache. 

Newcomers give hope

Rishi was just one-film old before ‘Kavaludaari’. As a police officer struggling to crack his first case, Rishi went into the depth of the character in Hemanth Rao’s sophomore flick. He is in total control in a poignant journey of a police officer.

Rishab Shetty, the man who helmed ‘Ricky’, ‘Kirik Party’ and ‘Sarkari.Hi.Pra.Shaale’, has often confessed his love for acting. But till ‘Bell Bottom’, Sandalwood had only witnessed the director in Rishab. Jayatheertha’s enjoyable comedy-thriller has a breakthrough performance from Rishab. Like a child let free in a park, Rishab has a lot of fun in ‘Bell Bottom’. 

There is a high level of likeability in his performance.

More power to Teju, Aditi

Director Roopa Rao rests an engaging yet dense coming-of-age story on the young shoulders of debutant Teju Belawadi. It was surprising to see Teju carry the narrative with fine consistency in her performance.

Teju is impressive in a film that hits your gut.

So far in a young career, Aditi Prabhudeva has gotten into the skin of all her characters.

She was delightfully natural and offered a touch of grace in ‘Bazaar’, a film that dabbled with the jaded concept of underworld. 

In ‘Brahmachari’, a sex-comedy that needed better writing, Aditi lifts the movie with a performance full of heart. She was effective in Dayal Padmanabhan’s ‘Ranganayaki’, a women-centric film that focused on the harsh realities of sexual violence.

Hariprriya continues to rule In an industry that sees many leading female actors fading away too soon, Hariprriya is the numero uno heroine.

She had four releases in ‘Soojidara’, ‘Ellide Illi Tanaka’, ‘Kannad Gothilla’ and ‘D/O Parvathamma’. Irrespective of the outcome of the films she is involved, Hariprriya has the knack of leaving her mark and she is certain to remain on top next year as well.

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