Moorane Krishnappa Review: A Delightful Comedy that Rises Beyond its Occasional Slip-ups

Naveen Reddy's film exists almost entirely in the small moments doused in silliness which is both intentional and endearing
Moorane Krishnappa Review: A Delightful Comedy that Rises Beyond its Occasional Slip-ups

Director: Naveen Reddy

Starring: Sampath Maitreya, Rangayana Raghu, Sripriya, Tukali Santosh, Ugramm Manju

Available in: Theatres

Duration: 141 minutes

Everybody loves Krishnappa. His small town of Narayanagatta is soon set to welcome a new temple and the Gram Panchayat President, Veeranna, reckons that they must invite someone really noteworthy for the occasion. Sure, Veeranna also has his personal gains of winning the upcoming elections on his mind but who wouldn't want a film star or some major politician (could even be the Chief Minister himself!) to grace this special moment? Who knows, Narayanagatta might even be put on the map. 

Turns out, it's the congenial school Maths teacher Krishnappa (Sampath Maitreya), and not the other two Krishnappas of the town, who boasts the capacity to make that big celebration happen — the guy knows someone in the city actually, who can make it happen. Our Moorane Krishnappa is the man of the moment nevertheless and nothing can come in his way to glory. Nothing at all.

In Naveen Reddy's film, dreams might be small but hopes are sky-high. It's a film about a place that has very little going on for itself except the anticipation of something amazing and what the filmmaker captures in about 2 hours and 20 minutes is the time leading up to that something. It's a film that uses an anthropological lens to understand the people of this tiny town and the little games they play with hope. 

Almost everyone is hopeful here. Veeranna (a wonderful Rangayana Raghu) hopes he can best his arch-rival Loki once again in the re-elections, his assistant Shankara hopes he will get some of the credit for that victory and Krishnappa himself hopes to become worthy enough to ask for his lover's hand in marriage. Of course, everything depends on the arrival of that celebrity. But for Krishnappa, the assigned task also inadvertently becomes a journey into self-discovery and redemption, and by all means, the story is meant to do just that. 

One of the charms of Moorane Krishnappa is that the writer-director does not impose a heavy plot on his material. The film exists almost entirely in the small moments doused in silliness which is both intentional and endearing. One might find the tone to be straight out of filmmaker Priyadarshan's oeuvre in that chaos unfolds leisurely and with loads of humour, with the story never really urging us to ask for anything else. And those laughs, especially in the first half, come in abundance and even though we know where exactly the story is heading, the characters keep us engaged throughout. 

What Naveen Reddy does well for most parts is he simply lingers on those characters and lets their interpersonal antics dispense all the entertainment. He imbues the narrative with the rusticity of the Anekal region and almost transports the viewer to the town, letting the mundanities, the cadence and the general way of life of the people become the source of our delight. 

There's a character or two that often slips into a mind-voice and spills out truth hilariously. There's another that is perpetually so randy that it almost forgets its purpose in the film. Almost everybody has a quirk — our Krishnappa himself, we learn, has held a grudge for years together against a fellow townsman over a reason so juvenile that it could be straight out of a Tinkle comic. And yet, we laugh at it all because Moorane Krishnappa is a celebration of those peculiarities.

A special shout-out to music composers Anand Rajavikram and Suprith Sharma for the superb background score. Cinematographer Yogi, in the same vein, does a solid job of capturing the essence of the town whereas the rest of the cast including a blend of known and unknown faces — Tukali Santhosh, Sripriya and others — fit the bill just perfectly.

The film also takes up the task of not entertaining alone but also making a strong observation about life as it were. Without giving away the why and the how, let's just say that there comes a point in Krishnappa's life when he must fight back (as a subtle nod to Maheshinte Prathikaram style, if you will). He has been dealt a bad hand and all the dreams he mustered are set to go down the drain if he doesn't come into his own. A search begins, both inward and outward, and how Krishnappa ultimately regains his dignity forms the rest of the story. 

Of course, this decision to nudge the protagonist in a new direction altogether ends up impacting the narrative a little and what emerges out of it isn't as engaging or convincing as the rest of the film. A preachy tone sets in, particularly in the second half, and it almost becomes apparent that Naveen Reddy is now in search of the middle act fitting the climax he has already imagined. Some of the contrivances in this portion seem too outlandish and once again, the plot twist we expect might not spring a surprise that we hope it would. 

Does that derail the whole effort? Well, not really and that is because the film does a fine job of enabling us to look for the funny side of things in every little situation. It resolutely stays true to its ethos throughout and that authenticity, of both the setting and the characters that inhabit the setting, is what ensures that the occasional slip-up in the writing doesn't overwhelm us. Moorane Krishnappa is a rare Kannada film that knows its world in and out and despite all the shortcomings, it works because it never tries to overachieve. It’s a sincere effort too, that feels alive, well-acted and funny in its own ways.

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