Cast: Diganth, Sonu Gowda, Ratan Ram, Vinayak Joshi
Director: Manjunath J Anivaarya
Fortuner’s trailer, which hit YouTube three months ago, does no justice to the film that released today. It has some of the most random and ordinary conversations from the two-hour-twelve-minute film, and it shifts from a romantic comedy to a chaotic drama within minutes. That happens in the movie as well but the change of gears happen gradually, and we even see it coming from a distance. It even manages to hold our attention, unlike the trailer.
Diganth, who swallowed pain and played a man with an unhappy past in last year’s Katheyondu Shuruvagide, stars as happy-go-lucky Partha who sings and dances to impress Anusha (Sonu Gowda). He’s a stalker with a sense of humour and a liar with a kind heart. He tells Anusha that he owns a restaurant, which he doesn’t, and he makes it a point to add that he’s also the son of an MLA, which he truly is.
Whenever the camera stays on Partha, it tells us that he’s afraid to face reality. But Anusha’s internal thoughts aren’t conveyed to the audience and she suffers on her own without sharing her grief, especially when she discovers a harsh truth after getting married to him. We sense that she wanted to marry a man with dreams and not a freeloader like Partha. Also, she comes across as a woman who doesn’t want the world to know that she’s been fooled.
The journey of these two central characters falling in love has been compressed to fit into a catchy song because the movie has something else to narrate. Sonu has bartered the quality of her silent mischievousness from Gultoo for a loud-and-shrill turn in Fortuner. But more importantly, the surprise element of the film doesn’t involve these actors, who’ve been playing leads for a decade – it’s Swathi Sharma (as Shruti), with her doubtful gaze and feisty attitude, who proves that she has the pizzazz to perform amidst stars.
Shruti destroys patriarchal cages by moving from the shadows of her husband (Ratan Ram as Swamy) to run a business. She joins hands with Partha to embark upon an exciting career opportunity. This portion is easily the most exciting as warmth and silliness ooze out of their odd friendship. It’s also the reason why I didn’t mind the easy solution that appears in the form of Naveen Krishna’s character (he shows them a way to move forward when they’re attacked by family problems).
Swamy, like Suresh (Sanchari Vijay) from Nathicharami, doesn’t want to live with a woman who hails from a village, even though he’s from a small town himself. Suresh and Swamy are pickles from the same jar as they look down upon people who come from their own social classes. They want to marry-up, and for them, it means tying the knot with a woman from the city. And when that doesn’t happen, their disappointment trickles into their homes and they turn into unkindly monsters to their devoted wives.
Despite the interesting subject Fortuner handles, director Manjunath J Anivaarya takes tedious steps to build his characters. There was no need for high-tension drama to tie the loose ends in the third act. And since the battle of minds amongst Anusha-Partha and Shruti-Swamy isn’t as strongly sketched as Yogaraj Bhat’s Gaalipata, I was never really invested in their relationships.
When Anusha asks Partha why he loves her, he doesn’t have a real answer to sweep her off her feet. It’s just something that he makes up on the spur of the moment, and it lacks the chutzpah the protagonists in a romance movie should have. And many scenes rely more on the background score than dialogues. Poornachandra Tejaswi’s songs, though, are better, and it’s a fantastic album that’ll find its audience in the coming weeks.
The problem with Fortuner is that its sparks of brilliance are outnumbered by its nods to garishness. The film would have worked wonders without the unnecessary elements that alternate between a comedy drama and a sob-fest. Alas, that remains only a wish.