kgf chapter 1

Language: Kannada

Cast: Yash, Anant Nag, Srinidhi Shetty, Malavika Avinash

Director: Prashanth Neel

Ever since Baahubali: The Beginning rewrote box office records three years ago, every big ticket Indian film has tried to go a step ahead in every possible manner. But none of them could do it; again, only Baahubali: The Conclusion could take the nation by storm. The lofty ambitions of movies like Padmaavat and 2.0 were marred by their own setups and payoffs.

And, now, director Prashanth Neel, too, has showed interest in swimming in the same sea, for his two-part movie, KGF, has set its eyes on gold – literally and figuratively. Neel’s hero names himself Rocky after realising the weight a powerful name can bring to the table. He’s hardly a teenager when he picks a fight with a police officer. When a don – the person who helped him get released – asks him what he wants, he says, “duniya!” At this point, you already know that he’s going to enter the history books. What remains to be seen, however, is the side he chooses to battle for, in this crime drama that’s set in the 70s.

Anant Nag, who plays an author, measures his breaths and words calculatedly while narrating the background of the town by comparing it to El Dorado, the characters that we’ve to get familiar with, and the problems that his protagonist, Rocky, might encounter along the way. He is pouring his heart out to a journalist in an interview as he’s written a book about it. The interview scenes emerge as a narrative device – the way the characters played by Samantha and Vijay Deverakonda were, in Mahanati. This particular device also reduces the pages of atrocities committed by numerous hefty characters to a couple of footnotes.

Voice-overs were recently used in Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai to explain the purpose of his characters in the plot. Anant Nag, though, goes beyond Vetrimaaran’s bullet-point-like presentation and adds his own style to it.

The adult Rocky (Yash) is loved by the children and feared by his enemies. Children approach him without a second thought; whereas, grown men take to their heels when they see him. Even when Rocky goes to the muddy town of the gold fields as a slave to complete a task, you can see the difference between how the kids talk to him and how his fellow slaves treat him. It may be a part of his character sketch, but it appears more as a fanning instrument for the star. Also, it’s a unifying factor for all the movie-heroes that are involved in the criminal business. This is true in the case of Mani Ratnam’s Nayagan and Thalapathi, Pa. Ranjith’s Kaala, and Rakshit Shetty’s Ulidavaru Kandante.

Voice-overs were recently used in Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai to explain the purpose of his characters in the plot. Anant Nag, though, goes beyond Vetrimaaran’s bullet-point-like presentation and adds his own style to it.

While Rocky’s travels from Bombay to Bangalore have colours that pop out like white, red, and blue candies, blacks and greys dominate the larger portion of the movie. The makers have worked on giving rich touches to KGF, although the sets that were erected mostly include slums and run-down shacks. Isn’t it ironic that producers have to spend more to create an atmosphere of poverty?

I wish Rocky were given fewer dialogues because whenever he opens his mouth, he gives lengthy sermons about his valour. It’s not just him, more than half the actors, who are in the shoes of supporting roles, shower praises on his bravery. And the biggest itch that I encountered was the editing pattern. I couldn’t register where Rocky’s hands and legs were going during the action sequences.

In his introduction scene itself, he ruthlessly took down two dozen burly men, but none of it stayed with me since the editor, Shrikanth, was busy mincing the shots and making a collage out of them. For that matter, even the climax portion, which is supposed to be the pinnacle, feels watered down as Rocky’s winning moment doesn’t get a stand-out scene. When it should have actually ended with a roaring thud, making us sit on the edge of the seats for the sequel to show up immediately (remember Baahubali 1’s cliffhanger?), its curtains came down rather sombrely.

And the romance section that’s fitted into the testosterone-filled universe is achingly dull as Reena (Srinidhi Shetty) falls in love with Rocky after watching him pick up a bun from the street and give it to a young mother. This would have been okay if this was their first meeting, but this happens after she threatens to get him beaten up for troubling her several times. Is one incident enough to turn all that hatred into love? Srinidhi, with her vacant looks, tells us that she doesn’t belong amidst such men. Prashanth should have made a note of it.

KGF isn’t a drab fare. Nonetheless, it falls short of becoming a great movie by a long mile.

Rating:   star

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