Director: Krishna Uppur
Cast: Sanjana, Dilip Raj, Rangayana Raghu, Lokanath, Shobhraj
Two decades ago, Santhana Bharathi directed a film titled Mahanadi , featuring Kamal Hassan, which portrayed the plight of a naïve man from a village, persuaded to move to the big bad city, sees his life unravelling. This intense and dark film got the National Award for the Best Feature film in Tamil.
Krishna Uppur, in his debut Kannada film that has the tagline Bold and Beautiful Woman, has also tried to narrate plight of an innocent fisherwoman who dreams of marrying a Mumbaikar for the thrill of living in a big city.
He has described his film as women-centric but Uppur has flopped in this laboured metaphor in portraying Meenakshi (Sanjana) to the eponymous river whose destiny is the sea, after encountering all sorts of obstacles in its course.
“Huve, Kannali Neeru Yakamma,” a song by V. Nagendra Prasad, in a way summarises the subject.
The film opens with the “Ambarada Anchinali” song, a utopian portrayal of contented fisherfolk in coastal Karnataka. Meenakshi, the community’s dream girl, aspires to marry a boy from Bombay ever since she saw the city’s sights through the bioscope at the village fair. Enter Raja (Dilip Raj), the charmer who marries her and introduces her to the city of her dreams. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before it turns into a nightmare for her.
Director Uppur strips the illusions to expose Mumbai’s underbelly: flesh trade, hooch mafia, child prostitution, gang rivalry, which rattles Meenakshi. She fends off the advances of Janna (Suryakirana) and takes him on when he pushes children into prostitution. Glam girl Sanjana is terribly miscast. Dilip Raj has little to offer because of the limitation of character. Rangayana Raghu as Lingappanna, the gambler, steals the show.
Sundarnath Suvarna captured the beauty of coastal Karnataka but could have made Mumbai edgier. Srinivasa Babu should have wielded sharper scissors to make the film snappier.