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Kantara A Riot Of Sound Colour & Divinity





Written, directed by Rishab Shetty

Rating: ***

Not all of Kantara  is as  trailblazing  as it is being made  out to be. There are  passages of  crass  puerility  in the storytelling.There are times  when it  becomes difficult to  bear the blizzard  of  crudity. There is for example, the character  of  the hero’s tharki friend who even flirts  with the hero’s mother , who by the way looks young enough to be the leading man’s love interest.

 Once  the  film takes off, and that takes time,  the entire magical mystical feeling of  the forest ablaze  with  ritualistic sounds and visuals, sweeps you  into  its fold.  Rishab Shetty’s performance  of the  Bhoota Kola dance  in the extended climax(which is  the actual film) is  mesmerizing. It will leave  you stunned by its  fusion of  possessed dance  movements  and  divine shrieks.Never before have we  seen anything  quite  like this.

This apart, the  film is ridden with clichéd  characters, like the evil zamindar who pretends to be  sympathetic  to the  farmers, and the police officer who seems to be hostile to the landtillers in favour of the  landgrabbers. There are crude double meaning dialogues that are  completely in opposition to the  film’s supremely  divine  design.

It is  entirely  admirable that  Rishab Shetty who has not only played the lead but also written and  directed the lopsided  epic , has chosen to bring forth  a little known  cultural/religious practice  of the Tulu community in coastal Karnataka while most filmmakers of this  country are content  making  films about gangsters and Punjabi weddings.

The  scenes shot during the night-time in the forest exude a raw energy . In many sequences  of animal-hunting the  nervous energy  jumps  out of  the screen to engage us  with a ferocity that we have seldom  encountered before in Indian cinema.

As  an actor Rishab Shetty has an arresting animalistic  quality.As a writer-director he could have cut  out much  of the  humbug and preserved  only the ritualistic  core . That’s where  the heart  of  the film beats. Hence I  recommend that you  see the  film  from its post-intermission point. The rest is  not just incongruous  but also out of place.

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