Bharat Stores (Kannada)
Director: P. Sheshadri
Cast: H.G. Dattatreya, Sudharani, Chi. Gurudutt, Prasad, Kumar, Padmakala, V. Manohar
In an attempt to explore the impact of globalisation and foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail on those depending on neighbourhood kirana shops, P. Sheshadri, in his National Award-winning film, restricts himself to simply narrating the story of a small shop that succumbs to the mall and mart culture, while leaving the audience to judge.
Sheshadri refuses to examine the larger issue; the film, which had all the potential of being a strong critique on FDI, falls flat by touching only the outlines of the subject.
Yet, the director deserves appreciation for showing courage in portraying the agony of a lopsided development paradigm. He explores the decay of human relations in the time of globalisation, where people succumb to the market economy and become a commodity.
The film opens with Bharati, who returns to Bangalore from the U.S., in search of Govinda Shetty, the owner of Bharat Stores, a small grocery shop. She was to repay her father’s debt to Shetty, but fails to find Bharat Stores in the Silicon City of India, as the shop is disappearing in the din of the mall culture in the city.
The tragedy of Bharat Stores is unveiled to her by Chandra and Manjunath, who worked at the shop.
So, there is the farmer Boranna who used to supply coconuts to Shetty, shifting loyalty to a mart, and the daughter-in-law of Military Rajanna who is not moved by the personalised services offered by Shetty.
Unfortunately, this scene trivialises the issue to a college-level debate on the pros and cons of FDI, and is a blot on the aesthetic quality of the film.
Dattanna brings to life the character of Shetty. However, Sheshadri could have invested more effort in making his character authentic.
Sudharani, Chi. Gurudutt, Prasad, Kumar, V. Manohar and Padmalata have done justice to their roles.