Kannada cinema has made a great deal of noise this decade. Especially with its blockbusters taking on not just India, but even the world by storm. Genre after genre, it has seeped into thrillers, romance, and even comedy. With its own twists, it’s leaving audiences like us asking for more! Personally, these movies have rekindled my interest in Kannada cinema. And might I say, left me asking for more. Not just because of my close association with Kudla Mangalore but the quality of delivery. I believe this listing might do the same for you.
Here are 5 remarkable movies that Mangaluru has contributed to the Sandalwood film Industry.
1. Ulidavaru Kandante – As seen by the rest
For someone with a fascination with suspense thrillers and philosophical plotlines, Ulidavaru Kandante is a marvel. It showcases intricate detailing on each character and a storyline that is like no other. The movie highlights an important aspect of humanity; perspectives. Centered in the coastal backdrop of Karnataka, the movie brings to screen the beauty of Udupi, Mangalore, and Karwar. What makes this movie such an eye-catch, especially for viewers emerging from Mangalore is the dialect that is predominantly used. According to FilmiBeat, for the first time in the history of Sandalwood, Mangalore Kannada was used throughout, in a movie.
The eerie aura associated with the mystery, the strong characterism as well as the overall plot does complete justice to the 2.5 hours of the viewer’s time. Directed by Rakshit Shetty, actor-director and most importantly a resident of Udupi and alumnus of Nitte. Ulidavaru Kandante is an amalgamation of 5 different viewpoints on a story. It brings out experiences as perceived by 5 key characters, all intertwined with one tragic murder. Hence the name, As seen by the rest.
Interestingly, this film gets its inspiration from the Rashomon Effect. This effect refers to incidents that involve multiple witnesses. Their inputs are all very conflicting, never really leading you to a solid conclusion. No wonder we’ve rated this at the very top of our listing! The story starts by introducing us to an investigative journalist. Through Regina’s (played by Sheetal Shetty) interviews we get the crux of the story. With each perspective, the big picture comes to the screen, helping us piece together the murder mystery. True to Regina’s words, the scenes only show you what was perceived by each of the witnesses, never the whole truth. Just what makes the entire movie such an intriguing journey!
2. Ondu Motteya Kathe – The story of an egg
Well, this is obviously not a story about Humpty Dumpty, I swear. Pardon my poor attempt at making you crack up in between this article. Ondu Motteya Kathe is a lighthearted romantic comedy that revolves around a 28-year-old, lean, and bald Kannada lecturer in Mangaluru. Janardhan, played by Raj B. Shetty, fits the role as if it were meant to be his. This movie touches upon the stereotypes associated with balding men. It also brings to light the sheer contempt associated with Kannada. The movie naturally hints upon the ironies of everyday life, while giving the audience a good laugh in the meantime.
This movie follows Janardhan’s journey into finding his future partner, all the while dealing with the many remarks that follow his balding head. This movie caught the audience’s attention far before it made it to the main screens. Much of the credit goes to its differentiative narrative ability in the trailers and Pawan Kumar’s decision to produce and market the film. It was backed by a director acknowledged by the Kannada movie industry. Ondu Motteya Kathe also stood apart for its “introspective soliloquies, employing dialogues and songs from Dr. Rajkumar’s films, reflecting the mind of the protagonist”, as quoted in a Hindu article.
What starts as Janardhan’s fight against sannyasa as foreseen by his astrologer, proceeds to take him through a journey of self-discovery. This movie differs not only in its strong messaging but also in its ability to journey through a variety of emotions, grounding the viewers to the reality of society and its shallow worldview, in a subtle yet entertaining manner. The movie has successfully infused Annavaru’s memory in its element and the supporting roles have beautifully delivered this impressive tale.
All in all, “The yolk or essence of this egg is about inherent beauty where bald is beautiful, fat is adorable and any physical flaw seems immaterial if one has the heart to identify real beauty.” as aptly compiled in an article by Deccan Herald.
3. Rangitaranga – Colourful waves
Rangitaranga is a horror mystery movie directed by Anup Bhandari, that will have you grip on for dear life as the movie progresses. With a 9.5 IMDb rating, Rangitaranga competed against Bahubali in the theatres during its release in 2015. But unsurprisingly, it ran for one whole year at the box office. It went on to become a blockbuster movie of the Kannada Film Industry, despite the absence of media reviews initially.
The story revolves around 3 characters, a novelist, Gautam, who goes by the pen name of Anashku. Indu, a key character leads the protagonist to Kamarottu where the story unravels. Sandhya, happens to be a journalist on the lookout for the novelist. Don’t try to wrap around all the details at this moment. Since a lot more pivotal roles are played by the supporting characters.
This movie does not fall short of beautiful visuals, both in terms of their scenes or the actors. Jam packed with a whole lot of suspense, a pinch of superstition and an equal measure of romance, Rangitaranga makes justice to its title!
As we follow Gautam through his investigation into the unnerving occurrences at the ancestral home of his wife, the accompanying background score evokes just the right amount of thrill. Debutant director, Anup Bhandari presents a great plot with an unpredictable storyline. This movie plunges into the hearts of many viewers and gives` it its rightly deserved spot in the Sandalwood Industry.
This is the first Kannada movie to screen for 50 days in the USA on 73 screens and minted over 2.1 crores at the box office. – Entertainment Times
What I can promise you is this movie’s ability to run chills down your spine, consistently get your guesses of the next scene wrong. And throw twists that you don’t even see coming. Its poetic brilliance, breathtaking dialogues, and the pure form of Kannada infused into the movie are like a breath of fresh air.
This movie has set a whole new bar for thrillers in the Industry. It has also welcomed up-and-coming talents from Mangaluru to take the centre stage!
4. Kirik Party
What struck the chord with this film is the sheer relatability that it brought to the table through its familiar scenes at an engineering institute. This movie centers around a rowdy group of college students, causing havoc at their institute.
Rakshit Shetty outdoes himself as the lead, as he carries the audience through the transitioning years of a quirky junior to a name that is feared within the campus. He does a dapper job at communicating the various stages in a student’s life. The female leads rope in the audience through their own pivotal roles in the lead character’s life, giving us viewers a whiff of growing romance and all things warm and fuzzy!
The main protagonist that goes by the name Karna, gangs up with a couple of hostel mates to create mischief in college, giving this movie its humorous edge. In addition to the nostalgia within this 2-hour long movie, we become a part of Karna’s dabbles with love, heartbreak, sorrow, and self-discovery. We see a young chap from a village pave his destiny within the walls of his newfound home and amidst his friends, all the while brimming with youthful energy.
This is not the kind of genre that keeps a viewer on the edge of their seats, curious about what’s to come next. But what it definitely does promise is an experience to the viewer that leaves them happy, satiated and walking out feeling good, reminiscing about college, friends and love as stated by the Times of India in its very accurate review.
This movie has given the Kannada industry something of its own in this genre. And of course music that resonates with the emotions of college students!
5. Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana
No need for more dubbed action movies when our own industry is producing a bomb like this one! Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana features 3 key characters that go against each other in yet another gang fight that has no seeable end. This movie has to its name a great deal of acclaim and appreciation, all well deserved. Raj B Shetty manages both the roles of an actor and director seamlessly. His work in this movie is commendable. This movie allows Raj to move on from his comical stance and rewrite his acting style in all ways bold!
Despite the blood shed and a very apparent plotline, the movie does not fail to entertain. Set in the streets of Mangaladevi, it does not shy away from bringing out the kudlaness in the movie. Be it in its dialogues of friendship, the pili-nalike or the gully cricket. The interesting roles of Hari and Shiva helmed by Rishabh Shetty and Raj Shetty respectively, aptly fits the title of the movie. In mythology, Garuda Gamana is a term used to address Lord Vishnu and Vrishabha Vahana is Lord Shiva.
What sets this movie apart is its lack of clicheness, especially associated with this genre, which already sets it apart. We see no female roles, and the leads don’t necessarily scream “hero”. GGVV feels real, though it is inspired by mythology. This brilliant piece of work by Raj B Shetty reimagines the holy trinity of the Hindu Dharma. And it replays their roles as humans turned against each other. The delivery of the scenes is impeccable. And the screen time offered to the beautiful streets of our coastal regions was well overdue.
“Cinematographer Praveen Shriyan’s wide shots, Midhun Mukundan’s background score, the actors, the dialect, costumes, showcasing the local businesses, the cricket scenes, ‘Pulivesha’ (Tiger Dance), adds to the milieu of the film to make it real and authentic.” – Film Companion
All in all, GGVV beautifully executes the theme of fire against ice, the combination of characters that fundamentally differ but are joined by a history of friendship. It showcases the final outcome of war and its bitter end, leaving the audience with a sense of grief. This movie has showcased the sheer creative ability of our artists through its camera work, script and the art of acting!
Over the years we’re seeing a positive shift in the Sandalwood Industry, as fresh perspectives, cinematographic styles and a forward thinking view on actors. A movie is only as successful as its audience and that is where we have a part to play. Let us shift from our mundane understanding of the art of cinematography and join hands with this era of impactful storytelling by supporting our homegrown actors, directors, musicians and artists. Besides, they don’t really make it hard for us to join the bandwagon, especially with their level of storytelling!