‘Navelru... Half Boiled’, ‘Popcorn Monkey Tiger’: Bizarre titles come calling to Kannada cinema

A still from ‘Popcorn Monkey Tiger’

A still from ‘Popcorn Monkey Tiger’  

Suri is the kind of director who zeroes in on a title before thinking of a plausible plot, which limits the exercise

On average, a minimum of five Kannada films get released every week. Most don’t last beyond the weekend, leave alone one whole week. What else do you expect with titles like ‘Navelru Half Boiled’! This has not discouraged production. You wonder why and how so many films are being churned out with only a fraction of the investment earned back. Last month more than 100 films were lying with the censors awaiting a viewing and certification.

I’m a die-hard cinema fan, but that’s one job I don’t envy. You can’t even walk away midway. Application for a censor certificate is now online and is on a first come first serve basis. Release dates can be announced only after the producer procures the certificate. The making of ‘Popcorn, Monkey, Tiger’ was done in an unhurried manner but with a scramble for suitable date and screens the influence of a Minister was used to jump the censor certificate queue. With a title that’s as bizarre as they come, the film would have normally gone unnoticed if it had not been helmed by Suri who’s considered among the most talented in Kannada cinema.

Some people just don’t bother to peep out of a social, moral cocoon they’ve carefully created for themselves. Suri is one. They don’t celebrate and explore the wonderful opportunities life has thrown up thus ending up wallowing in self-pity and catharsis. Cinema gives you the chance to dream and explore an unseen world and experience a roller-coaster of emotions. Suri has a flair for the medium, purely visually but his writing is hollow. It’s the lack of a definitive script that makes his films appear disjointed. He’s the kind of director who zeroes in on a title before thinking of a plausible plot which limits the exercise. With Ram Gopal Varma and Bala for cinematic idols there’s more crime than punishment. This time his son suggested the title, ‘Popcorn, Monkey, Tiger’ so he has to write something connected. ‘Blood, Booze and Babes’ would have been more apt.

Anyway while people call him ‘Monkey’, Seena the protagonist claims he’s ‘Tiger’ Seena. That takes care of two disjointed names. There’s this girl called Popcorn Devika who delivers a child in prison wanders around aimlessly after release, loses her money and infant and transforms into a cold, heartless character. Then there are the usual Suri characters with names like Galeej, Kothambari and Kushka. The purpose of any films is to entertain, enlighten, educate or move you emotionally, usually. ‘PMT’ refuses to tick any of these boxes.

You don’t identify with any of these characters and so fail to empathise with them purely because they’ve consciously chosen the paths they tread. There’s no plot nor is there a definite character arc save Devi. Hero is always in a drunken stupor, getting humiliated by women or smashing skulls with his fists. The kind of expletives used in the film is unheard of in Kannada cinema. Suri has been digging out scenes from his life right from ‘Inthi Ninna Preethiya’, and it continues, lamenting lost love, mouthing puerile pop philosophy and treating every woman but his mother with disdain. He also tries to weave in the cache full of cash episode from ‘Kenda Sampige’ making the film appear even more disjointed. ‘PMT’ is like the ramblings of someone high on some sort of substance, banned not prescribed. Sadly, I don’t think his son who suggested the title can watch the film, at least for a few more years.

A still from the movie ‘Kendasampige’

A still from the movie ‘Kendasampige’  

There has been talk of late that some films like ‘Dia’, ‘Love Mocktail’ and ‘Kanadhanthe Mayavadhanu’ should have done well at the box-office. It’s always going to be tough for small budget films which depend solely on ‘word of mouth’ because a separate budget for publicity is an added burden. The sad fact is before the positive word can spread the films are pulled out. Last week, six films were released and Ramesh’s ‘Shivaji Suratkal’ has emerged the winner. The two most difficult genres are comedy and murder mysteries. If the gags have to keep coming in the former the latter depends on periodical twists to keep the viewer guessing. You can see that a painstakingly written script was ready before going on sets.

The last time a murder mystery masquerading as victims of mumbo jumbo worked was in ‘Rangi Taranga’. Here too the twain is intertwined for not entirely believable but convincing viewing. The trick is to not make you think while watching and director Akash Srivatsa achieves that. Also the sequences moving back and forth are done seamlessly sans confusion. A song just after the interval is intrusive and should be removed to make it more engrossing. A lot of effort has gone into answering prospective doubts but a few more suspects with likely motives would have made it more interesting. With a holiday resort as the location in verdant Maikeri a coffee brand is plugged a tad too obviously. A sidekick a la Dr. Watson is essential for a sleuth to act as a sounding board and that works here, occasionally. Ramesh is obviously excited about the role and brings out the right amount of manic restlessness associated with such characters while being convincing in the emotional sequences.

‘Shivaji Suratkal’ made on a practical budget will make a good profit for the producer who can be proud he made a film that everyone can watch. Every film has it’s own destiny and the unpredictability in audience reactions makes it more fascinating. A collaboration of creative minds works better than the cinematic ranting of a troubled soul craving sympathy for a life spent complaining rather than celebrating.


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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:42:34 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/navelru-half-boiled-popcorn-monkey-tiger-bizarre-titles-come-calling-to-kannada-cinema/article30931686.ece

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