Director: Hemanth M Rao
Writers: Hemanth M Rao, Gundu Shetty
Available in: Theatres
Duration: 148 minutes
If Hemanth M Rao’s Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A was about love lost and a girl losing the light in her life and her singing voice, Side B is about the reason for both trying to bring light and music back into her life.
Since both parts have released within a short span of each other, nostalgia has not had the time or chance to cover the idea of this film in a fine patina of gold, and make it acceptable irrespective of what happens on screen. And so, the few blemishes show. The few problematic takes rankle in this 2-hour-27-minute movie.
It is 2021, and COVID-19 is ruling everyone’s lives. We are each living in a prison of our own when a portly Manu, face scarred and bearing none of the impish youthfulness he had a decade ago, walks out of prison. And into a bigger prison as his friend Prakasha (a brilliant Gopal Krishna Deshpande) waits for him in this new world.
Priya (Rukmini Vasanth doing the lovely Rukmini things she did in Side A) lives a life that’s been downsized by time — each of her dreams crashes (a well-kept home filled with light, and, of course Manu), yet she plods on, because giving up is something this Priya can’t do. Her walk remains ramrod straight, and her face, once animated, has now settled into acceptance — every emotion is minimal, her plait has thinned considerably, her smile has almost disappeared and her salwars have given way to easy-to-maintain polyester saris pinned to her blouse.
Into this new world Manu enters, Prakasha arranges for him to meet a sex worker Surabhi (a luminous Chaithra J Achar, who stunned in Toby and charms here with her half smiles and ease of being). Their first meeting leaves you choked — she’s surprised someone is lifting her in the first meeting. He’s only doing what he’s always wanted to do with Priya. He closes his eyes during the act, something Surabhi correctly pegs to another girl. He tries so hard to find Priya in her, asking her if she sings, if she likes the sea. Surabhi and Priya can’t be more different — if Priya loved the ocean, Surabhi can’t bear the heat, humidity, and stench of fish. But, the one factor linking them is the love for Manu, and his love for them.
The trouble for me began here. Manu is so intrinsically linked to Priya that he goes against every ounce of common sense to find some entry to her life — and Prakasha keeps begging him to stop. He frequents her husband’s floundering eatery. He drinks with him. He enters her house using a forgotten set of keys, and in the process, meets Vinodh (an effective Bharath GB, seen in Sakutumba Sametha and Toby), her brother, who is now an auto driver.
He watches her from afar, doing everything possible to better her life.
If love is care, in Manu’s case, it is penance for all he has put the once-vibrant Priya through. But is that penance done right? I’m still conflicted about the methods chosen (some things definitely fall under the stalking umbrella, and I am terrified of those who might not see the larger picture and just this), considering Manu was under the care of the reformed/seeking to reform Patil in Side A.
It is not very easy to follow up on the humongous, gut-wrenching emotions Side A left you with. Side B slightly struggles that way — is it going to be the story of people who lost in love or is it going to be about people finding new lives or is about seeking vengeance?
It helps that writers Hemanth Rao and Gundu Shetty wrote this at one go and filmed it together too, but I wonder if some scenes in Side B were there in the movie to pander to the huge fan following Side A has.
Soma (a menacing Ramesh Indira) is back, this time hard of hearing after the last encounter with Manu, and what began in prison continues in the bigger jail outside. Here, stunt choreographer Vikram Mor’s raw fights see Manu using his bulked-up frame to great effect.
Even a tender audience would not want Manu to not extract revenge from Prabhu anna (Achyuth Kumar) or get his pound of flesh (literally) from Shankre Gowda’s son and wife. And so he does.
The film ends poetically enough — the same money that tempted Manu to think he could set up a new life, helps set up two people’s lives.
If there’s one thing Hemanth definitely gets from his cast, it is invested performances. Rakshit puts in a wonderful act, and appears half-alive from outside and half-dead from within. Rukmini is everyone’s moral compass, Chaithra works wonderfully well as someone who says she will never again give anyone a piece of her heart that’s big enough to hurt her, and ends up doing just that.
Composer Charan Raj and cinematographer Advaitha Gurumurthy and co-editor (with Hemanth) Sunil S Bharadwaj are pitch perfect in their designated roles. This is a tech team that’s the stuff dreams are made of.
Love is a complex, multi-layered, textured feeling. And reducing it to just romance and sex is not doing it justice. What a young Manu did wrong, the older, wiser Manu sets right. That way, Manu finally rises in love, and gets to wet his feet in the ocean.