Bettada Jeeva (Kannada)
Cast: Dattanna, Rameshwari Verma, Suchendra Prasad, Lakshmi Heggade
Director: P. Sheshadri
Bettada Jeeva, which won National Award for the Best Environmental Film, does justice to Shivarama Karanth's eponymous novel. The story is about Gopalayya, land owner living in a forest, and his wife Shankari, who live in the hope that their son, who has deserted them, will return one day. The drama unfolds through the protagonist, Shivaramu, a young freedom fighter, who ends up at their doorstep looking for a place to sleep at night. The couple welcomes him and asks him to stay on for a couple of days saying he reminds them of their son, Shambhu.
Shivaramu also meets Narayana and his wife Lakshmi, adopted by Gopalayya. Everyone offers their take on the disappearance of Shambhu. The father attributes it to his opposing the young man's decision to plunge into the freedom movement. The mother blames herself. Lakshmi has her own explanation while Narayana is apprehensive about his future in case Shambhu returns. Thus, each character reveals his or her angst. In the process, the narrator ends up admiring the parents' courage.
Gopalayya also narrates how he has converted a patch of the thick forest into an agricultural enterprise without disturbing the ecology.
Eventually, Shivaramu realises that Shambhu is a fellow freedom fighter, he promises to locate him. Sheshadri tried his best to translate novel into moving visuals as there is no story and only incidents. His effort in depicting nature, human relations and complex issues is commendable.
The locale, Kujugodu village near Kukke Subrahamanya, is perfect. Dattanna, as usual, lives the role of Gopalayya. He is ably supported by Rameshwarai Varma. Suchendra Prasad as the narrator and Lakshmi Hegde are good. The use of Tulu language and culture helps in creating the perfect ambience. Shooting the film in cinemascope and providing DTS effect go a long way to capture the magic of the forest.
Cinematographer Ananth Urs has done an admirable job while dialogues by Gopalakrishna Pai go a long way in setting the philosophical mood.