The cut out is there, the fireworks are also there, but the film Shiva is a damp squib
The cosy confines of a multiplex can spoil you. I had lost touch with the perils and pleasures of watching a film in a ‘local’ theatre. I called a friend who manages a theatre on Bull Temple Road that has shown only Kannada films for as long as I can remember. I ventured to watch ‘Shiva’, first day, first show. There was the obligatory, giant ‘cutout’ of Shivanna straining under the weight of the garlands. Sadly, the ubiquitous ‘stars’ with pictures of the hero pasted on them are extinct. Now there are the ugly vinyls with a picture of the hero surrounded by mug shots of those who’ve paid for it. Fanatics were breaking coconuts in front of the cut-out shouting slogans like ‘hat-trick hero kiiiii, jai’ while others were impatiently rattling the doors. Suddenly there’s a tizzy. There’s a traffic snarl as a swanky SUV stops in the middle of the road unmindful of the incessant honking. The local corporator, clad in spotless white, slides out as the sea of fans part to make way. A ‘thousandwala’ is set off sending the unwary scurrying.
I squeeze into the throng waiting to enter and am literally transported into the theatre. There are seat numbers but nobody seems to be occupying the right ones. I’m shunted thrice since friends want to watch together. You have to be wary because when the excited fan in front slumps into his seat and reclines after a bout of whistling the backrest could smash your knees to pulp. The lights dim and the film starts. There’s silence as a seemingly never ending scene in which the protagonists’ parents are brutally hacked is played out. Suddenly everyone jumps up as if something has bitten their butt. The whistling touches a crescendo as Shivanna turns, ever so slowly to entertain his fans for the 101 time. The proceedings plod on predictably. Hero falls for heroine at a traffic signal, as she buys all the wares sold by a street urchin. Heroine is actually an avenging angel, out to decimate her parent’s killers. Fans are getting impatient. Why is she doing what their idol should? After feigning love heroine invites hero to a secluded spot and stabs him repeatedly but the fans are unperturbed. They know their hero cannot die. It’s time to buy refreshments. You can see that the fans are not too happy.
Shivanna predictably emerges unscathed. He realises that heroine is his childhood chum and they have a common mission. There are tackily taken, stolen sequences like the heist in ‘Mission Impossible’ and various others that test your cinematic knowledge. The director in his eagerness to please, doesn’t know when or where to stop. There are lines that make even the fans squirm, “When he’s simple he’s Shivraj Kumar. When he’s serious he’s Dr. Raj Kumar.” One of the characters describes the hero as ‘the one and only masterpiece in Karnataka.’ The loudest applause is reserved for the sequence where Shivanna picks up the ‘long’. “He’s the one who taught everyone how to hold a ‘long’,” says the hero’s pal in a reverential tone. Shivanna hacks away at the bad guys sending his fans into delirium. Everything is overdone tiring even the diehard fan. Most of them have sunk back into their seats. Many troop out even before the bloody climax unfolds. “Where’s the nearest bar?” shouts a fan in despair. There’s an air of melancholy as the fans saunter out. They don’t blame their idol but the director. The verdict is out. The film is a flop.