Bengaluru

Half Mentalu : Psycho-stalker strikes again

Stalk her till she says yes’ has been the dictum for the male protagonists of Kannada cinema, at least in the recent past. Be it last week’s Jessie, or Ranathanthra which released before that, or even Male (2015), Preethiyinda (2015), Patharagitti (2015) or Melody (2015), the plot of these films has had a consistent storyline: the hero spots a girl, sometimes at a bus stand or in the corridor of a building, falls in love, and stalks her till she consents. Lakshmi Dinesh’s Half Mentalu takes this horrifying plot to its pinnacle where the psycho-stalker is not just portrayed as a lover but eulogised and termed a martyr in love.

Shiva (Sandeepa) lives on the street and accidentally breaks a photo frame that Madhu (Gowda) happened to be carrying. In that first instance, Shiva realises he has fallen in love with Madhu. He waits for her on the street each day, meets her wherever she goes, makes a photographer click her photo, carries that photo with him, imagines Madhu as his wife and even tells his mother that this is the girl he is going to marry.

We hear him say, “When a girl approaches me, it makes me really happy. But, do you know what makes me happier? A chance to pursue her!” Shiva’s delusion, which the filmmaker fashions as his ‘love’ story, takes place over the course of 30 days, a crash course in the genre of stalker-love. On day 12, he decides to talk to her and on day 27, he has almost sacrificed his life for her.

Shiva may be in need of medical help or counselling, but what Half Mentalu focuses on is just portraying the man as love-sick, a hero and a true lover. At least according to the filmmaker, there is nothing creepy about following a girl, carrying a photo of her or even tattooing her name on one’s hand without even talking to her. Moreover, the filmmaker is so kind to the stalker that Shiva’s actions find validation towards the climax of the film.

These plots are tiring, and one is compelled to ask filmmakers why they are obsessed with such sagas.

Through a string of double entendre dialogues and the droning voice of the hero, the filmmaker tells us that when men fall in love, it is pure and real, while women first fall for the man’s money and walk all over his feelings. There is a ridiculous dialogue in the film where another jilted lover says that men are like idlis, hence pure; women are like dosas (nobody knows what this metaphor is supposed to mean but the man was serious about it when he said it.)

The film is littered with songs that offer a much-needed reprieve from the tiresome plot. Sandeepa as the psycho is painful to watch and Sonu Gowda’s performance is mediocre and confusing. The film even has a dog who aids the man in stalking the girl. The filmmaker extends his creativity to show us scenes from the dog’s point of view through shots that use poorly crafted spectacles (probably made out of cardboard) as the frame.

Half Mentalu, with its half-baked plot and misunderstood idea of love drives you mad, for sure.



Half Mentalu (Kannada)



Director: Lakshmi Dinesh



Cast: Sandeepa, Sonu Gowda


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Printable version | Nov 26, 2021 11:10:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/half-mentalu-psychostalker-strikes-again/article8425960.ece

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