Friday Review

Creativity is still far behind

PULSE OF THE AUDIENCE Shivanna and Sudeep seem to know. Actors Sudeep and Rachitaram in Ranna.

PULSE OF THE AUDIENCE Shivanna and Sudeep seem to know. Actors Sudeep and Rachitaram in Ranna.  

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If it is about making right choices, then Sudeep surely has the formula

Two films with superstars, ‘Ranna’ and ‘Vajrakaya’ were released on successive Fridays after carefully avoiding a clash.

‘Ranna’ starring Sudeep, released after several closed door confabulations about money matters has been declared a hit. Sudeep was so confident about the film’s success that he’s said to have sacrificed a huge slice of his salary hoping to recover it later. Very few stars are unselfish when it comes to remuneration.

Most treat it as a job rather than a creation produced in cohesion. You can’t blame them entirely because everything has a flipside. A lot of stars are stuck with a pile of bounced cheques. That’s probably the reason stars choose producers and not vice-versa like it was. There’s always a serpentine queue of moneybags waiting to sign a so-called reliable star. They feel blessed when chosen to fund a project of the stars choice.

Today, the producer stands up when the star enters the set, blurring the line between boss and employee. Anyway, with the success of ‘Ranna’ Sudeep has inched closer to the Puneet, and Darshan.Puneet is the loser because he was the undisputed boss of the box-office.

A slew of indiscriminate choices have resulted in Darshan, Sudeep and Yash snapping at his heels. Sudeep shifted gears. He was tired of mere critical acclaim. Remakes of sensitive films like ‘Swathi Muthyam’ and ‘Bawarchi’ were applauded but the jingle at the box-office was muted. His hoardings were not being bathed in milk. The answer was adrenaline pumping, action packed hits in Tamil and Telugu with generous dollops of soppy sentiment. ‘Ranna’ has both and Sudeep has hit the right formula. Incidentally a fan of the Raj Kumar family pointed out that the base of the original, ‘Atharintiki Dharedhi’ itself is very similar to ‘Nanjundi Kalyana’!

Shivraj Kumar is the most hardworking star in the Kannada film industry. He’s no longer in the rat race, but has a faithful following of fansHe works on the law of averages. He’s emotional, signs films when he hears a sob story and banks on the fact that one among the many will hit the bull’s eye. The list of flops before ‘Bhajrangi’ ran into double figures. His salary is near static, come hit or flop.

The releases after ‘Bhajrangi’ flopped too. It’s not easy dishing out a film with a marquee name. You may know the ingredients which are mostly similar but it’s the measure that’s important.

Kannada directors are leaning more towards Telugu pot-boilers for inspiration. It’s regressive and loud. Ask them and they’ll say nothing works like sentiment of the mother, father and sister kind.

Here the protagonist is the scion of an affluent family who knows he’s adopted but is suddenly told that his mother is alive. So hero backpacks into a land straight out of Chandamama. Imagine having to spear mounds of flour while riding a horse and hitting a target to get any wish fulfilled and it’s in present times, not a flashback! An inhabitant warns the hero that the cemetery is bigger than the town. It’s a dusty hamlet with a cruel, feudal lord. His mother is the chief’s daughter. He can’t reveal his identity not because he’s assumed dead but purely because the film would end abruptly.

So, like umpteen Telugu films he bashes the baddies, spreads love, falls for a virago who happens to be his cousin and ultimately melts into his mother’s embrace. Harsha pulls no stops. He has stars from neighbouring states shake a leg with Shivanna in a lengthy song. There’s a long winded lecture about maternal love. Dhanush has recited some prose which I hear has become a rage. There are three heroines. In an unbelievably insensitive scene a girl’s father rejects hero in front of a large gathering on learning he’s the adopted son. The second heroine is merely a companion so it’s Nabha Natesh who finally gets him. A cameo by Chikanna, the comedian in demand today is embarrassingly vulgar.

Sadhu Kokila mouths his share of double entendre. A lengthy sequence where he dances with a couple of guys in drag needed to go under the scissors. Ultimately if ‘Vajrakaya’ is endurable it’s because of Shivanna. Easily the most talented among the legend’s sons he turns in a sensitive and sincere performance, underplaying brilliantly in the emotional sequences. Harsha has managed to churn out a hit again. It’s boom time at the box-office but creativity is still a casualty.

sshivu6@gmail.com

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 6:17:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/creativity-is-still-far-behind/article7329492.ece

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