Yograj Bhat's Pancharangi relies too heavily on the spoken word
Yograj Bhat has set box-office standards that even he's finding difficult to match. He vowed to bring back youngsters to watch Kannada cinema after he overheard two college lasses tearing the films of top stars apart. He set a benchmark with “Mungaru Maley” which wowed families too. The sad fact is that the “MM” ghost haunts all his films that followed. He's not been able to replicate the success of “MM” but seems to have slipped into a comfort zone thematically. His heroes are motor mouths intolerant of elders and their diktats. They drive down to idyllic towns that kiss the clouds and fall in love. There are no bad guys in his films save one set of parents who're slightly surly. The emotions are slightly superficial with the spoken word dominating. His films are frugally shot which is definitely not a reflection of the quality of the film. The songs are usually pleasant and hummable. So why am I complaining?
To his credit he's never claimed that any of his films including “MM” are close to being masterpieces. The fact remains that he's capable of much more and his over reliance on the spoken word makes you uncomfortable. He's one of the very few Kannada filmmakers who command an initial at the box-office. Fans whistle when his name is flashed. Today he's in a position to tread off the beaten path that he himself has laid. Popular cinema has largely ceased to be director's medium, but Yograj is an exception. To his credit he's made stars out of unknown names rather than rely on them.
I never argue with success. “Pancharangi” has taken a terrific opening but it's time for Yograj to introspect. It's time his conviction in his immense abilities overtook the temptation to pander to popular taste. The biggest challenge for a creator is to make people like what he serves. The secret lies in desisting from having a condescending attitude towards the viewer.
“Pancharangi” is better than “Manasare” but that's not a compliment. The narrative in “Pancharangi” is coherent while “Manasare” was fragmented. It's again set in a sleepy little town with a vast beach this time. The elder's blind belief in vague superstitions and the youngster's resistance to this is an important element.
The hero has a cynical aside for everything while his elder brother is a nerd who nods to everything his parents suggest. There's hero's uncle who's made to resemble a holy man who was in the news recently for all the wrong reasons. Amidst this is told the story of how heroine falls for hero. The main problem with the film is that everyone, especially the hero seems to suffer from verbal diarrhoea. It's smart and funny in parts but starts getting on your nerves.
Basically you like Yograj's films because they are harmless. They don't assault your senses or reek of plastic emotions. Nidhi Subbiah is the surprise packet and walks away with the acting honours. The scene where she confesses her love is well conceived.