Dhruva Sarja is introduced to the audience as a young adult, without any accompanying dialogue. The scene showcases his mallakhamba skills. His face is boyish, but his muscled physique betrays his real age. However, he carries on with great confidence and latches on to the pole to perform a few tricks from his book. This scene also includes a 15- to 20-second shot where the camera zooms in on his midriff to give you a visual representation of his toned body — he pulls his stomach in from one side and releases it from another as though he’s kneading dough. It’d have been a LOL moment had a comedian done this, but this is the hero!
Shiva (Dhruva) studies in a hostel and grows up dreaming about the big family reunion that he’s going to have one day. It’s a dream he has nurtured for almost a decade. He’s a single child, and was probably pampered by his dad when young. He thinks his dad will visit him someday if he makes a name for himself. These rather sweet and emotional scenes appear in the prologue and help set up the plot pretty quickly. But when he learns that his daddy dearest died a long time ago and that there’s another man in his mom’s (played by Pavitra Lokesh) life, he feels let down.
Long before TV soaps turned step-parents into villains, popular culture had already given them a bad name. Remarriages are mostly looked down upon in our country and this is an area that Pogaru looks into. However, director Nandakishore doesn’t feed these exact lines and thoughts to his film’s hero.
Anger sticks to Shiva’s skin and he cries for his mother, as he believes that he has lost her, as well. For on-lookers (in the scene), this argument may look silly and childish, even. But, they do not pass any comments. They are, perhaps, there to collect gossip. But his mom knows that she can’t have a dual life — one with him and another with her husband. She can’t choose one over another. Now, this is the BIG mother sentiment scene that Kishore uses to turn his boyish hero into a full-fledged rowdy.
Pogaru, from here on, becomes what it is — the real movie that Kishore intended to make. It is honestly a chore to sit through the multiple introduction scenes. Whenever Shiva starts speaking, he forgets that there’s an audience (not in the theatre, but around him). He goes on and on about his strength, and the camera, as if on cue, focusses on his stony biceps. There’s definitely space for punch dialogues. This is, after all, an action film, but he keeps talking about himself all the time, and nobody stops him.
And that’s not it. There are many monologues where he shouts (of course, he shouts throughout the film) to gather attention, but they don’t tell us anything new about him. We know that he can beat up a truck load of men in less than five minutes. But why does he have to tell that in different ways every time he’s challenged by a bunch of goons?
There’s a coherent storyline with a few characters present from the beginning to the end, but there’s no logical movement between the scenes. You can separate them easily based on the purpose they serve.
Rashmika Mandanna plays a teacher who happens to live in his neighbourhood. She’s educated, and someone with a fair knowledge of right and wrong. Since she’s a teacher, she also has a degree or two. When she sets her eyes on Shiva for the first time, she’s disgusted by his uncouth behaviour. She catches him bursting firecrackers in the middle of the day. She tries to put some sense into him by bringing up the issue of environmental pollution, but he spits nonsense and sends her away. Later, he harasses her. He literally grabs her and makes her uncomfortable. But these glaring red signals don’t bother her, and she tells her father that she’s going to be happy with Shiva. What’s that supposed to mean?
Did Stockholm Syndrome slyly make an entry into Kannada cinema?
Also, Pogaru gets too busy with its hero and, therefore, underutilises its antagonists (portrayed by Sampath and Dhananjay). What if the film had focussed more on their tussle rather than on giving Shiva the entire stage? Would it have made things better? Maybe. Maybe not. But, it would have at least done away with the predictability.