A big hit, not a big film

Tagaru is Shivanna’s most successful film and surely his most mature performance

March 08, 2018 11:55 am | Updated July 06, 2022 12:28 pm IST

BENGALURU - KARNATAKA - 24/02/2018 :  Actor Shivarajkumar in Kannada fim Tagaru.

BENGALURU - KARNATAKA - 24/02/2018 : Actor Shivarajkumar in Kannada fim Tagaru.

Some people live a dark, cocooned existence. They never step out or even peek to see, leave alone experience the varied, vibrant colours and emotions that the man on the street does. Director Suri is one such. For an artiste who is very good at sketching and painting the only two colours he uses on-screen are black and red. The characters he conjures are mostly cold and devoid of emotional baggage. The strongest point in ‘Duniya’ was the hero’s love for his mother but after that it was a downward emotional spiral. Parts of ‘Inthi Ninna Preethiya’ were poignant but ‘Junglee’ and ‘Jackie’ were as aimless as the protagonists. Every director worth his megaphone wants to prove he can churn out hits without stars. The result was ‘Kenda Sampige’ which had its moments but failed to work on the whole. The attempt to deal with a normal, feuding family in ‘Dhodmane Huduga’ was ham handed. Emotional manipulation which is the ‘success suthra’ for most filmmakers is not his forte. His strong visual sense is just not matched by writing skills. He shares this shortcoming with his cinematic guru Yograj Bhat. Any filmmaker who does not realise the importance of having a bound script cannot make anything interesting or engaging leave alone profound.

Suri has this habit of first thinking up a catchy title and then spinning a yarn around it. ‘Tagaru’ and the tagline ‘Maiyella Pogaru’ grabbed eyeballs. No film starring Shivanna aroused as much enthusiasm in recent times and most of it was due to the fact that Suri was the director. This is despite the fact that their last collaboration ‘Kaddi Pudi’ received a lukewarm response. Casting the talented Dhananjeya as the antagonist helped. Shivanna plays a cop but hoardings have him holding a ‘long’ like Clint Eastwood about to draw and shoot. There’s Bhavana who experienced a harrowing time after one schedule. The songs too supposedly made it to the top of the charts so a rousing initial response was guaranteed.

‘Tagaru’ opens with something red swirling in a cup as a senior cop tells us about dreaded rowdies. It sets the tone even though it’s not blood. We’re swiftly introduced to the scum of the earth with monikers like Dolly, Chitte, Cockroach and Jamoon. There’s the aging ‘Don’ who’s introduced as someone who uses his brains and his underlings brawn. He reads from a ‘Kindle’ you see. The contender is Dolly, restless and rash constantly swigging from a beer bottle when he’s not bathed in someone’s blood. Suri pays homage to one of his favourite directors Ramgopal Varma’s ‘Satya’ in the initial portions. There’s the internecine struggle for supremacy, cops and the khadi clad using goons to eliminate opponents and for extortion. Unlike ‘Satya’ we have a superstar as the protagonist so he’s the incorruptible cop who doesn’t drink or smoke but likes to wield the ‘long’ sometimes. ‘Tagaru’ is about how he systematically eliminates the goons, spraying the screen with blood. The emotional quotient is hero’s sweetheart getting killed in predictable retaliation since cop eliminates Dolly’s brother and buddy.

It’s as if scattered scenes have been picked up and pieced together on the editing table. A convoluted narrative does not make a film different.

It’s not a thriller. We know what’s happened. We just have to find out how and when. The film seems stretched even at a little over two hours. There’s a seemingly endless episode involving the hero and his sweetheart’s sister which has absolutely no bearing with the plot. It’s ultimately the seemingly forced romance between the protagonists that is the most pleasant part. The alcohol and tobacco disclaimers constantly occupy the bottom portion of the screen.

Now the bottom-line is that ‘Tagaru’ is one of the biggest hits in Shivanna’s career. This happens to be one of Shivanna’s most mature performances.

Dhanajeya as the mercurial Dolly is an ideal foil. Even though the number of shooting days was too many sending the budget spiralling it’s been worth it for the producer and nobody can argue with success. It is being claimed that ‘Tagaru’ is terrific for Kannada standards. I disagree having grown up on a cinematic diet of films made by the likes of Puttanna Kanagal, Siddalingiah and Shankar Nag just to name a few and actors of the calibre of Raj Kumar, Anant Nag and Vishnuvardhan.

At the end of the day ‘Tagaru’ is just another mindless gangster film which neither moves you emotionally, motivates nor entertains you.


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