Cast: Danish Sait, Prakash Belawadi, Samyukta Hornadu
Director: Vamsidhar Bhogaraju
Danish Sait’s entry into movies has proved that an alternative indie genre is possible within the realm of Kannada cinema. It has opened up the possibility of a new cosmopolitan audience thronging the theatres to watch Bengaluru-based satirical narratives. These movies have dared to showcase a side of the city familiar to all but not often seen on screen, and also, subtly created a strong position for the multicultural nature of the city within the Kannada cinema ecosystem.
But for this cultural phenomenon to sustain beyond the novelty of its emergence, the movie projects need to keep getting better. Unfortunately for Danish and Co, their new venture One Cut Two Cut , which premiered on Amazon Prime today with much fanfare, fails miserably on all fronts.
Co-written by Danish Sait and director Vamsidhar Bhogaraju, and produced by Puneeth Rajkumar Productions, the movie revolves around Gopi—another one of Danish’s famous characters—M.A in “Arts and Crafts” who has finally got a teaching job in a Government school. But as fate would have it, on his first day at work, four “terrorists” attack the school and hold everyone hostage.
How Gopi helps to resolve this precarious situation and free everyone forms the plot of the movie. But as we all know, the plot is not important in such movies. Rather, the characters and the comic sequences are the key to success. This is where the writing is a huge disappointment. While Gopi, with his unique spoken English and Chaplinesque mannerisms, is fleshed out reasonably well, the “terrorists”—Pruthviraj (Prakash Belawadi) with his lifelong angst against Amitabh Bachchan, Ayana (Vineeth Kumar) the struggling comedian from Chennai, Neha (Roopa Rayappa) the vegan activist from North India and Gurudev (Manosh Sengupta) the ex-serviceman who wants a ban on beef and immigrants—all look tedious and find it hard to create successful comic moments despite having significant screen-time. If anything, the scenes featuring the CM’s secretary (Sampath Maitreya) and his “secret agent” (Vamshidhar Bhogaraju) and the journalist (Soundarya Nagaraj) are the much-needed relief from the extremely dull “kidnap scenes”.
Like any good attempt at comedy, the script does bring in a series of topical subjects: Gurudev is from Mattur, the town with a Sanskrit speaking Agrahara near Shivamogga and that is why he doesn’t speak Kannada; a slapping incident involving a hula hoop in a public park; children refusing to eat the mid-day meal because Neha throws out the eggs; the government school toilets being dirty, the absence of students because of the pandemic etc. Yet, these only manage to pique the interest momentarily as these are not developed further and become mere mentions. For a moment, when the “terrorists” demands start changing to the food and toilets, it seems like the narrative will go somewhere interesting. But it doesn’t.
The other important sub-narrative in the film is Gopi’s love story with Nagaveni (Samyuktha Hornad). This is nicely setup in the beginning when Nagaveni’s father rejects Gopi as she has studied commerce and Gopi is from an arts background. But Gopi meets Nagaveni again at his new job in the school. Intercutting with the hostage fiasco, this pairing develops interestingly amidst the chaos and has its moments but gets a feeble closure in the climax.
Visually, most strikingly, the hustle bustle of the city is absent and is mostly restricted to indoor or secluded outdoor spaces. This can possibly be attributed to filming during the pandemic. The music stays true to the cosmopolitan spirit of the movie, though, with the songs featuring a dash of rap and pop with lyrics in both Kannada and English.
This attempt to create a masala comedy potboiler results in many underdeveloped strands. It wants to be a Mr Bean plot with him trying to resolve a situation threatening world peace, but without the finesse or detailing. One wonders if it could have been better if the focus remained on Gopi and his world of “arts and crafts”.