Cinema

Santheyalli Nintha Kabira: Attempts to tell all, yet says nothing

Karnataka :Bidar : 25/07/2016 : A still from KABIRA FILM  on Monday 25th July 2016.

Karnataka :Bidar : 25/07/2016 : A still from KABIRA FILM on Monday 25th July 2016.

Indra Babu’s Santheyalli Nintha Kabira doesn’t attempt a complete biography of Kabir, the 15 century mystic saint and poet. Instead, it picks up Bisham Sahni’s play, Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein and attempts to adapt it to the screen. But even Sahni’s text seems quite out of reach for Babu. The problem with Santheyalli… is in its execution.

For those unfamiliar with Sahni’s text, the film offers little help. At least in the first half, the film rushes through Sahni’s text without pausing to explain. It helps that Kabir is a popular figure and one can use what we know about his life to fill the missing links.

Take Kabir’s introduction. A child found abandoned by the river, is picked up by a Muslim weaver family and christened Kabir. We are then directly introduced to an older Kabir (Shivarajkumar) and informed that instead of helping his father with the loom, Kabir roams around the market ‘singing songs’. There are hints given to us that here is a maverick figure whose songs and poetry speak directly to the residents of Kashi (where the film is set) but that’s all. One wishes Babu had spent some time crafting older Kabir’s character on screen and actually shown us the evolution of his thoughts and beliefs, most of all his poetry. With such a lack-lustre introduction, it also becomes difficult to empathise with Kabir’s character.

Additionally, one was looking forward to Shivarajkumar playing a character like Kabir – one that is markedly different from the roles he has played in the recent past. Unfortunately, he is barely convincing. Actually, his role acquires some strength only thanks to the well-written and beautifully composed songs (Ismail Darbar) and dialogues in the film.

Santheyalli… suffers from the lack of an anchor who can tell us the story coherently. The real story that Babu wants to tell is of the conflict between the values that Kabir has stood for versus the ones that the so-called caretakers of religion- Sikandar Lodi in Delhi, the maulvis and the pandits of Kashi etc.- have championed. Perhaps the use of a voice-over in parts could have helped?

The worst-hit is the character of Ramanand (Ananth Nag). In all of three scenes and a song, he is introduced and forgotten. His intervention in Kabir’s life is reduced to a dialogue. Strangely, in the second half, Babu suddenly reverses the pace. He leisurely fits in two songs – both with Kabir and his wife Loi (Sanusha) which only cram an already crammed narrative with more elements.

Overall, the film is a mediocre adaptation. It seems as if the filmmaker struggled to prioritise over what to include and what not to. Most scenes lack a proper transitional device and seem to be separated by a fade out at best.

It is the music, dialogues and most importantly, the cinematography that finally save the film. Bhagirathi Bai and Avinash as Kabir’s parents perform well. Even Loi (Sanusha) is heartening to watch. Sarath Kumar as Lodi is hardly effective.

Santheyalli Nintha Kabira (Kannada)

Director: Indra Babu

Cast: Shivarajkumar, Bhagirathi Bai Kadam, Avinash, Sanusha, Sarath Kumar, Ananth Nag, Sharath Lohitashwa


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Printable version | Oct 8, 2022 12:45:10 am | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Santheyalli-Nintha-Kabira-Attempts-to-tell-all-yet-says-nothing/article14517032.ece