I have lived in Bangalore for over a decade now. In all these years, I have watched three Kannada movies – Apthamitra, Anna Bond and Rangitaranga. I saw Aptamithra as soon as I came to Bangalore. It was having a record run in one of the theatres in the Majestic area. Anna Bond was one of the very few movies that I regretted watching. It neither had a script nor good performances.
In all these years, one could see the standards of Kannada cinema dropping; slowly and alarmingly. From the time I came, most of the hit movies were remakes from other languages. A few heroes didn’t act in remakes and the fate of their movies reflected in their dropping popularity.
The remake trend is confounding. People in Karnataka get to watch movies from different languages. Telugu and Tamil movies being the most popular ones. It isn’t just in the urban areas that these movies are watched; even people from areas far away from the border watch these movies. So, it’s a little baffling that the same movies are remade in their language get the same, or, in some cases, a better reception.
Every once in a while, came a movie, an original, that was dismissed as a flash in the pan. Lucia, a movie that released in 2013 changed it all. It was the first movie to use crowdfunding to produce a movie. The story was good and for the first time in a few years, it made other movie industries sit up and take notice.
It was not always like this. The Kannada film industry can proudly claim that it has produced some of the best luminaries in Indian language films. There was a time when Kannada movies were remade in multiple languages. The same bug came back to bite them later.
Rangitaranga is a game-changer in many ways for the Kannada movie industry. For a change, it has firmly put the spotlight back on Kannada movies. If you have a few Kannadigas let you have believe their words, it has been rated 11 on IMDB!
It might not be rated 11 on IMDB, but rest assured, the movie is very good. It’s so good that the entire state reverberated about the movie for a while. It released a couple of weeks before the mass occupation of the theatres by Baahubali happened. In the normal scheme of things Rangitaranga was supposed to surrender the theaters it was running in to Baahubali, but the word of mouth, a display of parochialism ensured that it was running in a few theatres. While Baahubali came and went, Rangitaranga is still running to packed houses in Bangalore. Once the movie gained popularity, a lot of people from other states too started watching the movie. Hence, it was of a massive help that the movie had subtitles.
The movie has three major threads – a lady journalist chasing an author with a nom de plume, a couple wanting to ensure that the demons from the past are pacified and mysterious deaths in a village. The director has interwoven these threads brilliantly and manages to close out every single thread perfectly.
The movie doesn’t have a racy screenplay, but you are drawn to the proceedings because of amazing storytelling. The locations chosen add to the mood of the movie. Almost everyone in the main cast is a newbie. They don’t have an image to cater to. They perform well because each of them underplays their part with rarely seen subtlety.
The people who walk away with honours from this movie are the director, cinematographers (foreigners) and Saikumar. Saikumar does a terrific job in the movie. He takes the audience through a gamut of emotions. If one has to be picky, his accent could’ve been a little better in the movie, unless he was told by the director himself to have a bent of Telugu in his accent.
The songs are all good and the lyrics stand out as not a single word from any other language (apart from the ones spoken in Karnataka) are used.