Language: Kannada

Cast: Shreyas, Nishvika, V. Ravichandran

Director: Guru Deshpande

Gone are the days of heroes delivering blockbuster after blockbuster and amassing lakhs of fans along the way. Today’s stars enter the film industry with a lot of baggage and a readymade title – of course, this applies to actors who come from film families. Padde Huli’s male lead is introduced as “Young Tiger Shreyas”. Please, laugh, for this is the only joke in the movie that works!

Even though Shreyas hasn’t done anything worthy to be hailed as the Young Tiger, we’ll be made to accept him today, or tomorrow, just the way Telugu cinema is pushing Bellamkonda Sreenivas towards us from all corners of the galaxy. Soon, fan clubs in Shreyas’s name will emerge from tier-2-and-3 cities of Karnataka. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you later. This is a dystopian world we’re living in; there’s no escape from this kind of reality.

Shreyas’s dad, K. Manju, has been producing Kannada films for around two and a half decades now. So, naturally, his debut is a collage of things for future generations to gawk at. You get everything here – from fights to comedy and action to melodrama – but none of them will stick with you the minute you leave the theatre. B. Ajaneesh Loknath’s music might be an exception and, honestly, that’s a relief since you can at least enjoy the songs.

Sampath Kumar (Shreyas), a Vishnuvardhan fan, starts beating up a bunch of comedians after getting a tiger tattooed on the back of his hand. When he plays well in a game of cricket, his friend calls him an all-rounder. And when he takes a year to prove to his father (played by Ravichandran) that he can make it big as a singer and a musician, he turns into a lone wolf who learns to swim against the wave. Hence, the screenplay makes Shreyas bring all sorts of emotions to the fore. But the Young Tiger hasn’t heard of subtlety. Most of the time, he’s either loud and confused, or wide-eyed and confused.

He also travels from a small town (Chitradurga) to a bigger town (Davangere) and finally to the city of dreams (Bengaluru). But he doesn’t get the jitters as normal people do when they try to find their feet in a metropolis for the first time. This Kannada version of the Tamil hit, Meesaya Murukku, seems like a golden template for debutants. I’m waiting to see if it’ll get a Bollywood makeover with the son of a popular star. Anyway, Padde Huli’s Sampath may have won the hearts of Karna (Rakshit Shetty repeats his role from Kirik Party) and Puneeth Rajkumar, but it’ll take a long time for Shreyas to find a place amongst the two dozen stars of Kannada cinema.

Throughout the dull offering, I did find some crunchy moments, like the storyline dealing with Sangeetha’s (Nishvika Naidu) uncle (played by Madhusudhan Rao). He’s a white shirt and white pants wearing fanatic who won’t stop at anything to get his nieces married to the men of his choice. Rao has mostly starred as a disgruntled man in South Indian films. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise when he appears on screen with a word of comfort and changes gears to reveal his true colors. While I’m on it, allow me to tell you that writers haven’t forgotten how men from the rich girl’s family in Balaji Sakthivel’s Kaadhal (remade as Cheluvina Chittara in Kannada) kept women under their thumbs.  

I wonder if this thought occurred to director Guru Deshpande. Padde Huli would have taken a stranger – and even interesting – turn if it had focused more on the couple’s blossoming love story than on Sampath’s career.  

Also, it’s nice to listen to poems penned by celebrated Kannada writers (Sampath comes up with tunes for the poems). How many of us have really read the works of Kuvempu, D. R. Bendre, D. V. Gundappa, and others outside our schools? When Netflix is just a click away, we tend to forget that there’s a treasure of literature, smelling like badam kheer, a few hundred feet away in a quaint bookstore. It’d be equally great if some of those books could be turned into feature films / series.

Rating:   star

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