KGF Movie Review

KGF

Image courtesy: behindwoods.com

Name a blockbuster and more often than not you will find revenge or good vanquishing evil as the central theme. KGF doesn’t attempt to take a different route. How it goes about doing it is the moot point.

Prashanth Neel, the director of the movie, excelled with action set pieces in his first movie Ugram. The protagonist wears an intense look, he seems to have a flashback and he becomes a saviour. KGF, too, remains faithful to the template and there is enhanced grandness. How else can you make it a pan-India film?

He gets a star at the top of his game and boy, does he utilise him well? The entire movie is about Yash. Yash doesn’t let the director down as he gives a terrifying form to the character. Swagger is what the industry reckons by and Yash gives Rocky, the character, a lot of it. The movie starts in 1981 and we have a female minister, grapevine has it that it’s based on Indira Gandhi, signing orders for the pulling back of a book and removing traces of a person from public knowledge.

A media organisation gets hold of the author of the book when it’s found that he is a person who doesn’t waste words on needless things but has written an entire book on a person. So, they think it’s imperative to know about the person from him.

The author starts tracing the story from his birth where we are told that at the time he was born, gold was also found at a place 18 Kilometres from Kolar Gold Fields. Born Raja Krishnappa Bairya, he loses his mother pretty early in life. His mother tells him that she doesn’t mind what he does but he shouldn’t die a poor man.

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Prashanth Neel seems to be inspired by the oeuvre of SS Rajamouli and there are traces of early Rajamouli films in this movie. One can say that Prashanth has taken the blueprint and strides forward with it.

After his mother’s death, the kid has a target but not the path. A chance encounter with vagrant tells him that if you beg, you get pennies, but you threaten, you get big money. He starts out as a boot polisher (yeah! Mumbai, Underworld, Deewar and superstar) and is told that to be remembered one need not have a long name but a short name is enough. His obsession with brand is such that he rechristens himself ‘Rocky since 1951’ inspired by Raymond’s.

The mother-son angle is good and as thought to be it doesn’t mar the proceedings. There are a few dialogues that hit the viewer hard too

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Prashant Neel has some undertones in the movie that he doesn’t take time to explain. He makes you concentrate on the dialogues so that you can remember them when the action scenes unfold. He seems obsessed with dark (there can be an explanation for that as well if you dig deep) and has a couple of fight scenes in the dark. Even the climax is played out in dark. It is a metaphorical reference to how Rocky walks in, does his work and walks out, nonchalantly.

With a superstar at his disposal, he is basically fishing. Fishing where he can lay an entire trap.

The action scenes are well choreographed and full of gore. In these movies, the more the gore, more the feeling of redemption when the antagonist is vanquished. This is where Prashant falters. The scene where Rocky starts out with the destruction has you rooting for him as a premise is set and the brutal killing satisfies the viewer. The climax, though, has nothing of it. Despite being 155 minutes long, you are left with a feeling that the climax was rushed. The movie, at times, gives out a feeling that the director set out to make trailer-worthy scenes rather than hoot-worthy movie.

There are a couple of times that the reporter jumps forward in his tale. It serves no purpose. It’s basically to show the superstardom of Yash and as expected, he excels. Those scenes serve no purpose, aggrandising the hero is what the scenes set out for. That’s done by the hero himself and the character named by Pathan. Heck, every character’s brief in the movie is that – soar the hero.

A few people would’ve been disappointed by my stating that Prashanth is inspired by Rajamouli. I said that because the language used for women in the movie gets cringe-worthy at times. Yes, he does set it right by saying that there is no better warrior than a mother, but the effect of the dialogue in the hotel lingers more than the aforementioned be. Rajamouli used to do that in his films till Eega I guess. The quirky names of the characters is another reason why one is reminded of Rajamouli. Another reason I felt so is because of the statue scene. All said and done, the guy who played Garuda gives the movie its best scene when he glances back at the statue and gives a photographically perfect pose.

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Garuda is also the biggest disappointment in the movie. While there seems to be so much fear around him, it’s not well established as to why do people fear him. Something tells me that he isn’t the antagonist to be feared but his uncle Adheera. I have a feeling that the background of Rocky might be explored further in the second part. It’s said that his mother conceived him at 14, gave birth to him at 15 and died at 25. There is a slight end left open pointing to his illegitimacy as his mother is taunted by a couple of guys.

Parallel to all this is a tale where a journalist, in 1981, is interviewing someone about Rocky. It might be the thread that will reveal more.

Yash, as Rocky, breathes life into the character. The screen presence he has is one of the reasons why you don’t leave your seats. He knows that the movie is piggybacking on him and he delivers. The intensity on the screen sears through and no aggrandisement was required, but the makers felt otherwise.

There is an accessory worn by the heroine in the movie – a gold headband. That accessory has as much screen time as her.

The technical team of the movie does a good job. The location chosen for the movie, Toranagallu mines, is bang-on. The connection between El-Dorado (flashed during interval), Yash rubbing the soil on his body and him rising to being the leader of the people enslaved in the mines could’ve done with some explanation. It comes across as heroism and doesn’t point towards the good research done for the movie

Verdict: The producers will remember the movie with fondness. The actors? A movie that makes you wait for the sequel, but if it is anything like this, it will be panned

Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series. Episodes 10-13

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Image courtesy: Youtube channel of Doordarshan 

Episode 10 : Upsanhaar

Time Period : 1945, Calcutta

Plot of the case : This is an episode in which storylines from two episodes are borrowed – Satyanweshi and Agnibaan. Good job is done in combining them both. A character from Byomkesh’s past comes back to haunt him and to track him down, Byomkesh is forced to play dead. There is no mystery in this as the key elements are given out mid-way into the episode, but the execution is near perfect.

Episode 11 : Tasvir Chor

Time Period : 1951, North Bihar

Plot of the case : In strange circumstances, the photograph of the people who went on a picnic goes missing from whoever has a copy. To add to the mystery, the negative goes missing as well. This is one of the cases where everyone involved is a suspect. The mystery isn’t given out till the end. To add to the suspense, there is a murder that is made to look like a suicide. The reveal is a bit of a surprise and when Byomkesh explains his modus operandi, we wonder how did we miss it all along

Episode 12 : Kile ka Rahasya

Time Period : 1952, North Bihar

Plot of the case : A professor is found to be dead of a snake bite. A few years ago, a woman was also found to be dead of the snake bite. Like in Tasvir Chor, this is also an episode where most characters are suspects. Family members, family history and how Byomkesh finds out the hidden treasure form the core of this episode. We also see in this episode that Byomkesh and Satyavati have a baby

Episode 13 A,B : Chiriya Ghar

Time Period : 1953, Calcutta

Plot of the case : A retired judge invites Byomkesh to his colony on finding parts of Motor Vehicles thrown at his house. It’s a unique colony because the occupants are all people who have been given a chance to redeem themselves from the mistakes committed in the past. As Byomkesh is making inroads into the case, the judge is found to be dead. It was in fact a murder that was made to look like a natural death because of blood pressure. A deaf occupant of the colony is also murdered later. Like in the previous couple of episodes, every character is a suspect and there is a reveal about every character that shocks us. Terrific acting and explanation of how Byomkesh zeroes in on the murderer make this episode a fitting finale to the first season.

Looking at the episodes, they gain steam as we get deeper into the narrative of Byomkesh Bakshi. “What was extraordinary about the experience was that we didn’t shoot BB episode wise; it was shot like a film,” says Rajit Kapur to Hindustan Times. That revelation is surprising because the intensity in each of the episodes is superb and difficult to maintain.

Suggested Reading: 

Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series Episodes 1-3

Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series. Episodes 4-6

Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series. Episodes 7-9

Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series. Episodes 7-9

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Episode 7 : Laal Neelam
Time Period : 1936, Calcutta
Plot of the case : There is a murder at a rich man’s house. His secretary is murdered brutally. In addition to piercing his chest with a knife, his throat is also slit. 8 years ago, a robbery at the rich man’s house leads to him losing all the jewels. He is particularly interested in a red sapphire for which he announces a reward of 5000₹ as well. How these seemingly unrelated incidents are related is how the episode goes. This is probably one of the episodes with least intrigue because we know that the man spoken about at the beginning of the episode would do something and the identity of the murderer is revealed halfway.

Episode 8 : Bhoot
Time Period : 1936, Mungair
Plot of the case : A jeweller who is rich and parsimonious is found to be dead in his room on the first floor. He has left all his fortune to his niece. She is married to a reprobate. For 12 days after his death, police kept a watch on the house. It was let out after that and the tenant keeps seeing what the place considers to be a ghost. Though the jeweller was murdered the jewels, which he always kept at home, are presumed to be missing. Starting from Laal Neelam there seem to be two separate tracks in an episode.

Episode 9 : Agnibaan
Time Period : 1944, Calcutta
Plot of the case : In 1993, we didn’t have keyboard warriors as there wasn’t internet at that time. Yet, since the story was set in 1944, they acknowledge the Second World War happening at the time. This is a case where daughter of the professor next door is found to be dead in a sitting position. After a few days of investigation as Byomkesh zeroes in on the perpetrator of the crime, the son of the house is found to be dead. This mystery is intertwined nicely with how insurance leads to an increase of greed in man.

These set of three episodes are where the author consciously tries to lead the reader/viewer down the wrong track.

Suggested reading:  Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series Episodes 1-3
                                     Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series. Episodes 4-6

Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series. Episodes 4-6

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Image Courtesy : Screenshot from Doordarshan Youtube Channel 

Suggested Reading : Byomkesh Bakshi TV Series Episodes 1-3

Episode 4 : Makdi ka Ras

Time Period : 1934, Calcutta

Plot of the case: Byomkesh is immersed in a case which was troubling him from long. Ajit suggests that they should go and take a walk. Byomkesh agrees and they go to a park. Ajit stumbles upon a friend, Mohan, who is a doctor. Upon knowing that Byomkesh Bakshi is with him, he narrates the problem of a household he visits as a doctor. Nandulal Babu, is in habit of taking Tarantula juice and despite all the methods tried out by them, they can’t rid him of the habit. Byomkesh solves the case easily, but the suspense is intriguing for a while.

Early in the episode, it seems as if they are trying to veer Byomkesh in the Sherlock way but that concern is quashed pretty easily.

Episode 5 : Wasiyat

Time Period : 1935, Calcutta

Plot of the case : A rich man has a fortune and no direct heirs for the fortune. He has four nephews and one niece. All of them stay with him. He is temperamental in nature and keeps changing the will for his property on the prevailing mood. He is murdered with the help of a needle and piercing it in a sensitive area at the back of the neck. The suspicion falls on everybody.

Byomkesh is assigned this case by the commissioner and the police officer in charge is impatient. This is one of those cases where the identity of the murderer isn’t revealed till the end. Also, this is the episode where he meets his future wife, Satyavati.

Episode 6 : Reth ka Daldal 

Time Period : 1936, North Bengal

Plot of the case : Byomkesh, on a vacation, meets a Zamindar. There are some mysterious incidents taking place under his (irresponsible) watch. A man who has been entrusted with the responsibility of teaching his daughter runs away with 6000 rupees and 4 years account books and is presumed dead. The Zamindar, Himangshu, requests Byomkesh to solve the case. While it doesn’t seem straightforward it becomes evident after a certain incident as to who the culprit is.

The Unknown Kimi Raikkonen

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The book written by Kari Hotakainen starts at the Malaysian Grand Prix and ends at Kimi’s home. This is an indicator that the author was given unfettered access into Kimi’s life. Anybody who follows Kimi knows that he is taciturn and likes keeping to himself. You have to wonder what made him open up about details that are not known to the wider public.

He talks about his early life and how his father being a mechanic helped the Raikkonen brothers rise in the world of driving. While Rami, the younger one, gave it up, Kimi kept at it. Kimi talks of his father fondly and the chapter where he talks about his father’s death and his regret is something that will have you rushing to mend fences with your father. 

Kimi’s beginnings have stayed with him as he values the mechanics in the team and he is generally on first-name basis with them. An incident that finds repeated mentions in the book is about the time he fixed the toilet in the Ferrari bus.

We can delve deep into his personality when he talks. Like the instance, when he says this 

I like being in the car; driving is the one good thing about the whole job. You’re left alone 

The love he has towards his family is more than the love he has for his profession. He is aware of the responsibilities that come with being an F1 driver and he doesn’t avoid them. 

Like the author says 

Kimi isn’t the first Finnish sportsman to shun the microphone, or to fear it. But he’s the first one whose reticence has become an international brand

We know him as a driver. As fans of Kimi/F1, we would be eager to know about the journey that got him here in the first place. The fact that he is talented shines through at more times than not in this phase of his life. He makes light of his struggles in foreign land, but that only made him stronger. 

His rise to F1 is unmatched; before and after. So, it is amusing when he says that he is scared – not of driving, but of failing. 

There is a wild side to Kimi. The detour to Iceland. The party with Bahrain prince, the parties on his yacht. All of them and more incidents find a mention.

He makes his contempt for mobile phones very clear. He doesn’t regard them as a part of his life. His phone is always on silent and he has thrown away his mobile phone on more occasions than one. 

He is fiercely loyal; to the people he grew up with, to the people he works with and to the values he grew up with. It is said that Ron Dennis tried to infiltrate him into the high society but failed.

With the pressure on his time and a growing family at home, he values time dearly and makes no bones about travelling in chartered flights. He wants to be home as soon as possible rather than wait for scheduled flights. 

The only disappointment in the book is that it ends too early and more than half of the book is devoted to statistics. 

Ben Foakes and playing spin

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Image Courtesy : gettyimages.com

It took Ben Foakes 44 balls to do what Rory Burns took 3 balls – score the first boundary in their debut Test. Coming in at 103/5, Foakes set about undoing the damage started by Burns chasing a ball down the leg stump line.
He was good while facing spinners – he looked assured of either foot. Today was a day every England batsman who came out to bat before Foakes came with the intention of imposing themselves on the match. What else can explain the shot that Moeen Ali wanted to play off the first ball that he faced? Result? The first golden duck in his career.

Ben Stokes in a similar manner wanted to fetch the ball and ended up stretching more than what was necessary. He was bowled by what could’ve been punched to mid-off for a single. At that stage, a total of 200 looked too far. Foakes walked in at this stage in the match, a situation far from ideal for a debutant. There have only been two centuries from a number 7 on debut for England – Prior walked in when the score was more than 350 and Thorpe had situation similar to what Foakes had today. While Thorpe had Gooch for company, Foakes had Buttler and Curran.

Batsmen have different strategies for batting on the pitches in sub-continent. Some hit their way out, some grind the bowlers out and some devise their plans on specific shots. Foakes, today, alternated between the second and third of the mentioned strategies. In the company of Buttler, he started slowly and picked up pace. After Curran’s wicket, he concentrated more on being there than scoring runs – Rashid did the latter job for him.

Facing spinners can be a tough task. During the IPL when Rashid Khan was wreaking havoc, Sangakkara, in the studio, was asked what would he do counter him. Sanga replied back saying that as a right hander, he would stand on the off stump to negate the power of Rashid’s googly and force him to alter the line. Root, in his brief stay at the crease, was doing the same before rush of blood saw him coming down the track and yorking himself.

Foakes must have seen the dismissal as he set about to be effective rather than pretty. For balls pitched on the stumps line, he went back comfortably and tapped it to the midwicket region. This was what he did till Tea. After tea, he started coming down the track, not in an attempt to force the bowler out of the attack, but to tell the bowler that if he changes the line, he could come down the track and play it to similar areas.

Sri Lankan bowlers would go back and check their line to him. While line didn’t seem to trouble him so much, it would be interesting to see what changes in pace, change in the angle and flight would do to his poise. Day 1 was won by Foakes when it seemed that Sri Lanka would walk away with the honours

Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava – Sakutumba Saparivaraa sametham ga

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In 2004, NTR had a release on the first day of the year. It was a resounding flop. It went with the name ‘Andhrawala.’ It came at a time when he was in a fight for box-office supremacy with the reigning numero uno of the time, Chiranjeevi. He plumbed the depths after what was an early bright phase in his career. 

That flop came in midst of bitter caste wars in our college. It was so bad that people not belonging to NTR’s community were celebrating the flop. I never got into the caste wars in college but there was glee in me as well when the news reached that the movie was a flop. 

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At the beginning of this year, Trivikram delivered his biggest dud. It took a lot of sheen away from his capabilities as the movie was found to be a freemake of ‘Largo Winch.’ Agnyaathavasi was a movie that seemed most un-Trivikram of his movies. He went off the public radar and only resurfaced during the promotions of this movie. There must have been some introspection as he turned over the way he made movies. 

What was thought to be as a common thread in most Trivikram movies is missing here. It helped him no end that he had, at hand, an actor who had submitted to his vision and belief. 

Trivikram begins slowly in this movie and he rides the wave with the first fight sequence in the movie. It was a sequence that had climax written all over it, just that it wasn’t . He reaches the crest and the movie goes downhill for a bit as we get to see what happens after a fight of such magnitude. It could’ve tumbled down quickly but what holds the movie is the scene between NTR and Supriya Pathak. Both the actors bring their A-game to the scene and it shows. Supriya Pathak is aided by Trivikram’s dialogues. NTR has to bank on his expressions. One of the dialogues is that people are talking that he was born with a knife in his hand. In the fight sequence before this scene, he is shown tying the knife to his hand. Trivikram doesn’t let small details escape and boy, it pays off. 

Trivikram usually shows the female protagonists in his movies as bimbettes. This movie, refreshingly, is a move away from such a portrayal. She is said to be doing her MA in anthropology, a study of humans and human behaviour. She wants to do ethnocentric study on factionalism. 

She seems an extension of Supriya Pathak’s character. She even utters the same dialogue as his grandmother, which leads NTR to say ‘vinne time, Cheppe manishi batti vishayam viluve maripothundhi’ (the circumstances and the person talking to us give a whole, new zing to the words). The words ring a bell when NTR says it. 

Trivikram doesn’t delve a lot in showing the romance between the lead characters. He conveys it in the dialogues. The scene in the cafe, where Aravinda expresses her love towards Raghava, is nice. The build-up to the scene is Pomodoro techinique ( yeah, you heard it right). It can be safely said that Trivikram might have put it to use in the screenplay as well. 

There are a couple of scenes, between the lead pair, which are elevated by Trivikram’s dialogues. One of them is where Aravinda explains female psyche to Raghava at a metro station and another one is where Raghava explains the male psyche to Aravinda in her bedroom. No, there is no physicality in the scenes. 

Trivikram elevates NTR’s character and he does it multiple times. The pre-interval sequence is a hoot and the way NTR says, ‘Kantapadavo kanikaristhannu emo, ventabaddana narikestha Ona’ (If I see you, I might take sympathy on you. If I have to chase you, I will hack you).

Post-interval, there is very little of comedy and the action keeps shifting between the villages of Kommadhi and Nalabanda and Hyderabad. 

There are many goosebump-inducing scenes in the second half. None better than the one where he sits in front of Rao Ramesh and threatens the villain and his henchmen on phone. All this while drinking a cup of tea. He goes to Rao Ramesh with the hope of initiating peace talks and this act of his followed by a few words convinces Rao Ramesh in giving peace a try. 

Another scene is where he juxtaposes two stories in the village and goes on a monologue of what ails the region. There can’t be more said without revealing the story. 

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Casting for the movie is apt. There is no hero in Telugu Film Industry who could’ve played the role as convincingly as NTR does. He is amazing in bringing forth anger, love, respect, sadness and longing. He gives the director what he wants with every single shot. No hero, bar Nani, to an extent, has spoken the Rayalseema dialect so well. Putta Penchal Das is the man behind it and deservingly gets the credit. NTR oscillates between the accents effortlessly and the close-up shots aid in accentuating the scene. The camera was in love with him and it shows. 

Pooja Hegde acts well within the limitations of her character. She gets a lot of credit for change in NTR. Her role has been designed in a way where she acts as an extension for NTR’s grandmother’s thought process. Jejamma, Amma and Aravinda shape NTR. The way he respects women, the way he behaves with them and the way he is influenced by them. There is a dialogue towards the end of the movie where NTR says “Paalu icche amma ki paalinchadam oka lekka.”

Jagapathi Babu induces fear. The scene where he asks Brahmaji if he is more scared of him or NTR is amazing and showcases the acting abilities of both the actors. 

Supriya Pathak, Devyani, Sithara, Sunil, Eesha Rebba, Naresh do well in their roles. Naresh’s family and Sunil provide the comic relief in the movie. 

Thaman does well with the Background music as always and helps in conveying the mood well. 

The cinematographer also does a good job especially in aerial shots. 

Trivikram, after a couple of uncharacteristic efforts, is back to form. The dialogues flow and they cause required effect. It probably helped him no end that he had NTR to utter the dialogues. Both gave their best to each other and don’t disappoint. 

Verdict: Outlook makes a difference and women shape it. In life as well as in the movie. Worth your time 

 

Image courtesy: 123telugu.com