As the year 2006 gave way to 2007, there emerged a whiff of fresh air spreading the spirit of love. The place was Bangalore (I prefer it over Bengaluru) and the occasion was the release of a reasonably small Kannada movie- Mungaru Male (hereafter referred to as MM) which went on to take the entire Kannada film industry by storm. Initially there was hardly any ripple created and one did not realize the impact of the movie. Going down memory lane, I remember during the 2nd week of its release I had started observing the video’s of the songs & kept listening to the songs on FM radio. That was when during a casual conversation with an industry friend of mine, I commented that “is movie me kuch to zaroor hai, keep your eyes open.” My friend just shrugged away my comment & went on. But a couple of weeks later he was very excited to tell me that my comment had indeed been right, the movie was turning out to be a major success. That’s when I smiled- the smile was that of a dreamer, a passionate film lover and a romantic at heart.
For somebody who lives on a staple diet of movies across genres and across languages, Kannada cinema just did not appeal enough. Yes there had been days in the past when I had seen movies of the late Dr.Rajkumar or Vishnuvardhan (mainly in T.V), but of late there really had not been any great movie worth talking about. An Apthamitra or a Jogi were probably flashes in the pan and nothing else to look forward to apart from the movies of an odd Girish Kasaravalli and his breed of directors. But MM revived the interest in Kannada cinema not just for me but for a whole set of movie audience both Kannadiga and non Kannadiga. People who would otherwise not talk about Kannada movies started talking about the movie, the songs were heard everywhere and everyone associated with the movie began making money.
Genesis of the Movie
So what’s the movie all about? How and why did it get made? Well the director of the movie – Yograj Bhatt was from the ad film industry and had not met with success with his first two movies. This time he had a good script in hand and initially approached Puneet Rajkumar who was not convinced about the script and backed out. That’s when fate proved to be lucky for ‘Comedy Time’ Ganesh and he stepped in as the hero. Ganesh was popular on T.V as the host of a comedy show (Comedy Time) and after doing a minor role in Amruthadhaare (better known for Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo), he had tasted some success with his first solo hero movie, Chellata. Ganesh managed to get E.Krishnappa on board as the producer as he knew him from his earlier days. That’s how the movie finally took off.
MM is the story of a young man Preetam( Ganesh), who falls in love at first sight with Nandini ( Pooja Gandhi). Preetam then accompanies his mother to Madikeri ( Coorg ) for the wedding of his mother’s best friend’s daughter. Yes the bride to be happens to be Nandini and as expected sparks fly between the two. After initially shying away from Preetam, Nandini too falls in love with him. But Preetam’s mother comes to know the truth and requests him to forfeit his love as the wedding is due in a few days time. So what happens next? Does true love succeed or does love get sacrificed? That’s what the rest of the movie is all about.
Factors that made the movie memorable
While the plot as such does not look very different from a routine romantic flick, there are quite a few elements that work in a big way for MM.
The treatment of the subject (story by Preetham Gubbi) is very refreshing especially keeping the general trend of Kannada cinema.
The camera work by Krishna is remarkable. In fact most people would be surprised to see the beauty of Coorg or Jog Falls getting captured so well in a Kannada movie.Yograj Bhatt has not just done justice to the script; he manages to keep the viewer engrossed throughout the movie. What’s commendable is also the fact that he manages to extract very good performances from the cast be it the younger set like Ganesh, Pooja Gandhi,Diganth etc or seniors like Anant Nag, Padmaja Rao , Sudha Belwadi etc.
Music by Mano Moorthy is exemplary and well supported by the lyrics written by Jayanth Kaikini,Yograj Bhat,Kaviraj & Siva. What’s even more remarkable is that the songs are sung by well known singers like Udit Narayan,Sonu Nigam,Kunal Ganjawala, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shreya Goshal etc.The movie went on to break all records in the Kannada film industry and made a big star out of Ganesh. All the others like Yograj Bhat, Pooja Gandhi ,Mano Moorthy, Jayant Kaikini Krishna, etc have also become even more popular in their respective streams. So overall the movie has turned out to be a wonderful experience for everyone associated with it.
As a passionate film lover and a die hard romantic myself, I feel that for a romantic flick to succeed, one needs to connect with the on screen romance. When the connect happens like in the case of an Ek Duje Ke Liye, a DDLJ , a QSQT etc I think box office history automatically happens. In case of MM not only myself but nearly everybody else who watched the movie connected to the romance. Kannada cinema certainly got a fresh lease of life with MM.
On a parting note given below are links to couple of my most favorite songs in the movie-
The first of them is Kunidhu Kunidhu Baare,sung by Udit Narayan & Sunidhi Chauhan.
The second is Anisuthide Yaako Indu, sung by Sonu Nigam
Watch the videos and let the monsoon rains herald love once again.