Yogaraj Bhat’s film ought to silence his critics who accuse him of knitting his films without a strong storyline. In his latest, Drama, there is indeed a story (though it’s nothing much to write home about), decent narrative and intelligent use of the dialect of the Mandya region.

Though a section of audience may feel that Drama creaks under dialogues and one-liners, if they get past that, the film has something to say.

Bhat has tried his best to please both the classes and masses with homilies, stereotypes, emotions, suspense and scenic locales. A bit more effort on his part and he would come up with a satisfying thriller.

Though the first half meanders, the narration picks up in the second half enough to be compelling. Drama unfolds within Drama with the characters getting into trouble because of their pranks. In a nice cinematic device, Bhat has introduced Ambareesh as a puppeteer who forecasts the future to emphasise that it is the Great Puppeteer up there who holds the collective strings. The leitmotif is already there with the song (by Harikrishna), ‘Bombe aadsonu mele kuntavne’.

The usual carefree characters are there. Venkatesh (Yash) and Satish (Ninasam Satish) are naughty boys who have managed to study till pre-university with much difficulty. Nandini (Radhika Pandit) enters Venkatesh’s life unexpectedly. Likewise, Satish is attracted to Chandrika, a shopkeeper’s daughter.

Both Venkatesh and Satish join the college where Nandini studies. By the way, she is the daughter of underworld don D’Souza (Sampath Kumar), who kills his guru’s (Lohitashwa) son to protect his daughter. Drama unfolds as D’Souza’s guru tries to take revenge.

In another subplot, the lead trio enacts a play to unite the college principal Shalivahana (Suchendra Prasad) and his wife (Malavika).

Of course all ends well, misunderstandings cleared, ending with the advice, Choour odkolrappa (please study a bit to succeed in life).

Though Yash and Satish live their characters, it is the latter who scores through his innocent looks and dialogue delivery. Both actors are comfortable with the Mandya dialect. Radhika once again proves her potential as a good actor. Ambareesh convinces as the puppeteer.

Cinematographer Krishna will not disappoint the audience who still talk about the breathtaking Mungaru Male. Harikrishna’s music is pleasing. Songs including ‘Thund haikla sahavasa’ (Vijaya Prakash) and ‘Chandutiya pakkadali’ (Sonu Nigam) linger in the mind.

Drama (Kannada)

Cast: Yash, Radhika Pandit, Ninasam Satish, Sindhu Lokanath, Ambarish, Suchendra Prasad, Malavika, Honnavalli Krishna

Director: Yogaraj Bhat