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.
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
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.
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