Kahi: Too bitter to swallow

Director Arvind Sastry builds a good appetite of intrigue right from the start.

Director Arvind Sastry builds a good appetite of intrigue right from the start.  

Kahi (Kannada)

Director: Arvind Sastry

Cast: Suraj Gowda, Matangi Prasan, Krishi Thapanda, Hari Sharva

What if you are told that you will get what you want but only if you swallow the most bitter pill in return? Will you be happy at the end of this experiment or will the bitterness overshadow everything? Moreover, if the gift you seek comes to you through an unpleasant experience, is it worth it?

Arvind Sastry’s Kahi explores these questions and tries to show how acerbic life can be. He puts his characters through an absurd, unrelenting ordeals as they pursue their goals, passion, ambition and love.

He introduces you to Akhila (Krishi Thapanda), who is told that having a child will definitely help her marriage; Vidya (Matangi Prasan), whose dreams of becoming a famous dancer are proving to be too expensive; Hari (Hari Sharva), a drug dealer who is in trouble after a delivery goes wrong; and Raghu (Suraj Gowda), a murderer and rapist who roams the city in search of new victims.

How the lives of these protagonists intersect on one particular night forms the crux of the film. The characters get what they want but their means to their end is devastating.

Sastry builds a good appetite of intrigue right from the start. The compelling soundtrack makes it better. There are delightful references to Annamacharya’s songs and the myth of Sisyphus that endows the film with intriguing layers. The cinematography is sharp. There are a few rough edges that give the film an unfinished feel.

Vidya and Hari’s stories are written and executed well. They intersect with the other stories in a believable manner and also make you invested in their plight in no time. In the case of Akhila, her story, at least up until the climax, is relatable and engaging.

Kahi is not without problems. That Sastry is in search of the most bitter pill is evident in Raghu and Akhila’s stories. The nuance and depth given to the other characters is absent in the case of Raghu. He is evil and nothing else and appears as a convenient contrivance that can push the film deeper into its dark universe, thereby staying true to its title.

The other contrivance is visible in the climax. Sastry makes Akhila and Raghu meet and generates a deeply unsettling climax. What is more problematic are the specific dialogues that he gives Akhila’s character — dialogues about rape and the aftermath of it that prove to be extremely difficult to digest. They make you wonder if they were put in for their shock value or to seal the film with the harshest resolution that Sastry could find.

You are left with more questions than answers at the end of Kahi. And like the protagonists, you too are being asked to survive the bitter pill.

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 1:41:46 AM |

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