Re: From a solid team comes a tedious fare

Re (Kannada)

Director: Sunil Kumar Desai

Cast: Ramesh Aravind, Ananth Nag, Harshika Poonacha, Suman, Master Hirannaiah, Loknath, Shrinivas Prabhu, Shivaram, G.K. Govinda Rao, Ramesh Bhat, Tennis Krishna, Sharath Lohitashwa

At the heart of Sunil Kumar Desai’s Re is an existential proposition that hinges on the word ‘if’. The souls or spirits of five generations of a family are trapped in a house. A few centuries ago, Bhimrao, a Dewan at a king’s court, had promised to marry a girl he loved but he ended up marrying someone else. Devastated, the girl cast a curse on the family, ensuring that the souls of the men would wander aimlessly without respite.

We enter the story at this point. We are told that they will attain salvation only if Paapu, the youngest living member of the family, falls in love and marries his lover. Their collective fate, therefore, hinges on this ‘if’. What if Paapu does not want to marry anyone? What if he chooses not to help his ancestors? And is there a specific girl he must marry for this curse to be lifted?

On paper, this story is intriguing and reeks of cinematic possibilities. There is an old-world charm to it and the promise of a journey into the magic realism narrative universe made popular by the Arabian Nights series or even the Vikram Betaal saga.

Simultaneously, it is connected to the present since it involves a conversation with Paapu, a man from the contemporary generation. Furthermore, Desai had a formidable cast with veteran actors willing to work together as a team. After a long time, Kannada cinema was seeing such an illustrious team of performers, most of them famous for their work in the 1990s.

However, Re fails to engage its audience. The cinematic version of the script is unbelievably substandard. Take the editing for example. It is so shoddily done that the ‘cuts’ and the frame jumps are visible. The CGI shots are distinctly different in format to the rest of the footage and one cannot believe the inconsistency in quality throughout the film.

The onus of keeping the film afloat, hence, falls on the actors. While actors Ananth Nag, Shrinivas Prabhu and G.K. Govindarao, Loknath attempt to enliven the screen, in Desai’s hands, they remain mere caricatures. Even Ramesh, as a character representing the present, struggles to keep up with the circular, poorly edited screenplay. Harshika and Suman deliver mediocre performances making their portions a difficult watch.

Desai has returned as a filmmaker after a long hiatus. After making films such as Utkarsha, Beladingala Baale and Nammoora Mandara Hoove, with Re, he shocks you. The choice of a non-digital format and ‘old-world’ cinematography could be deliberate to portray a certain narrative period.

However, their function in contributing towards telling the story well is still sacrosanct. With a laughable, spoof-like cinematic version of the script and with its poor editing, Re struggles to narrate the story or present a visual spectacle.

Towards the end, the film-maker employs a series of flashback sequences in quick succession almost as if to try and explain the lapses in editing. The tragedy of Re lies in the fact that despite a fantastic team of actors and technicians, what you have is a substandard, tedious product.

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Printable version | May 1, 2021 2:48:56 AM |

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