It’s easy to lose your heart to someone, but it’s not that easy for someone to also reciprocate your love for him/her in return. That’s why there’s a big difference between an actual romance and unrequited love. Imagine that you are lucky enough to find your dream girl and she reciprocates your love as well, what do you from thereon? What if you were to drift away from your beloved and find yourself falling in love with someone else all over again? No I’m not talking of cheating on your partner but referring to a strange twist in your life due to circumstances. Also imagine another situation where you get back in contact with your beloved once again, but realize that he/she is out of reach for no fault of either of you. What do you do in such a situation? Yes life can indeed be cruel, it can give you something but also take away something from you when you least expect it.
Why am I ranting about love? Well I just can’t help it because Anup Bhandari’s Kannada hit RangiTaranga (colourful wave) which I finally saw a few days ago has got me thinking on these lines. A thriller in every sense, the film has been in the news ever since it released in Karnataka. I had no clue of the film before its release but since then I have been keenly following the progress of the film and was eagerly looking forward to its release in Mumbai. And my expectation did get met last week. Anup Bhandari, an IT professional turned writer-director and his producer H.K.Prakash seem to be playing all the right cards. At first came the news of the film not really getting enough screens and shows, thanks to Baahubali’s spectacular outing. This was followed by some good word of mouth which saw the occupancy levels shooting up for RangiTaranga, leading to more screens and shows. Eventually the film started opening up in various International territories, doing well there, before opening up in the rest of India.
So if you would ask me why did I start this post by commenting on love when the film is actually a thriller, then let me tell you that despite being a thriller it is a love story at the core and touches upon all that I was saying earlier. More on that later but let’s dispense away with the plot for now. Gautam (Nirup Bhandari), a novelist leads a reclusive life in Ooty with his wife Indu (Radhika Chetan), a painter. Gautam’s latest novel is titled RangiTaranga and Indu as always paints the cover page for this novel as well. On the other hand we see Sandhya (Avantika Shetty), apparently a journalist in the search of an anonymous writer who goes by the pen name “ANASHKU”. Indu starts getting nightmares regularly and convinces Gautam to visit her ancestral home in the village of Kamarottu in order to perform some rituals to solve her problems.
Once they reach the picturesque village, Gautam befriends the post master, Kalinga (Saikumar), and the elderly school head master, Shankara (Ananth Velu). Indu encounters eerie happenings and suddenly disappears one day leaving Gautam to investigate what’s behind her disappearance. Sandhya’s quest in the meanwhile brings her to Kamarottu as well. What does fate have in store for Gautam, Indu and Sandhya? What’s the mystery behind the beautiful but mysterious village etc. are what we get to see in the rest of the movie. Narrated in non-linear fashion, the film basically moves from the period 2001 to 2013, with the major portions centred around the years 2001, 2007 and 2013. Anup Bhandari has tried to keep the audience guessing with respect to which way the tale would turn out to be and it’s credible to see that he hasn’t brought in unnecessary characters for this purpose. Most of the story is set in the fictional village of Kamarottu and the natural beauty of the place by itself lends some mystique to the tale.
Director Anup Bhandari doesn’t waste much time in setting up the premise and brings in the intrigue factor early on itself. The first half breezes past us and you cant help but be on the lookout for a hint of the supernatural. There are enough moments to keep us hooked and largely the film refrains from any excesses in the first half, thankfully there is no unwanted comedy track and the songs are situational as well. However in the second half the plot does go slightly haywire and the culmination to the finale happens a little too abruptly and appears way too simple. Considering the way the film opens up and the expectations built up at the interval point, it’s a tad disappointing to see the film slightly losing its focus later on. However this is not a deterrent from enjoying the film overall, there is still enough to appreciate. The cinematography in particular is very impressive, the DOP’s from the U.S, Lance Kaplan and William David do a stellar job of capturing the outdoors especially.
The music is another plus point for the film; Anup Bhandari’s songs (except for Dennana Dennana he’s also written the lyrics for the rest) have quite a variety. Be it the fun number “Akka Pakka” (sung by Anup Bhandari and Suchitra Lata), the soulful “Ee Sanje” (sung by Abhay Jodhpurkar, Gokul Abhishek and Monisha) or the recreated “Dennana Dennana” (sung by Supriya Raghunandan) which adds an eerie touch, the songs work quite well for the film. B.Ajaneesh Lokanath’s BGM is more than adequate; it helps in elevating the tale considerably. Anup Bhandari has also cast mostly newcomers but the casting choices have worked out quite well. Anup himself appears in a cameo but it is his brother Nirup Bhandari as Gautam around whom the tale revolves. Ananth Velu as Shankar Master, Siddu Moolimani as Sandhya’s friend Nilesh aka Pandu and Arvind Rao as Inspector Basavaraj portray their characters effectively.
The female leads introduced in the film, Radhika Chetan and Avantika Shetty play Indu and Sandhya with conviction, with Avantika coming off as a little more convincing. Veteran actor Sai Kumar as Postmaster Thankabail Ravindra Bhat has a blast and literally steals the show during the climax. Nirup Bhandari gets to portray two different shades to his character and is quite good, carrying off the lead role with aplomb, quite a confident debut indeed. RangiTaranga isn’t flawless, as mentioned earlier you do feel that the output could have been even better, but it’s not often that you see a debutant filmmaker make such a confident debut, that too with a subject like this. For Kannada Cinema the success of this film should hopefully inspire many more filmmakers to avoid the remake business and attempt original, refreshing content like this. RangiTaranga has also shown that a Kannada film can also be marketed well, a lesson for the more popular stars and directors in the industry. There’s no point in being satisfied making mediocre films, the challenge is always in scaling new boundaries, both in terms of content and market.
While I did enjoy the film as a thriller, what appealed to me even more is the way two love stories are effectively conveyed in the film in a totally refreshing manner. It’s not often that someone manages to do it so well, all the more striking when a debutant director does it.As I sit back and reflect upon the romance in the film and revisit the songs, I do hope more and more people go on to watch and encourage a genuinely interesting film like this.
Note-RangiTaranga is playing with English subtitles in its 2nd week in Mumbai (9 screens), 3rd week in Chennai and is also playing in Pune, Hyderabad and Chandigarh, quite a feat for a Kannada movie.