Compared to the more straightforward relationship between a mother and her child, the father-son bond is usually fraught with more complexities. It is described quite well in the opening monologue of Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham where a father wonders why it is so hard for him, and the son to express their love for each other, while the mother notes with some amusement that she never tires of telling her son how much she loves him, whether he hears it or not. It is sad, but true, that as time goes by, bonds break, and the threads of relationships slowly fray, as one attempts to stay in the rat race that is life. But what if realization suddenly strikes that it’s too late to go home again? How does one come to terms with that? Does one hold on to a solitary thread of hope, that things will again be right some day? Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu is a lovingly crafted answer to all these questions.
Shiva Rao (Rakshit Shetty) is an investment banker in Bombay with a promising career and a busy life. With a potential transfer to New York looming on the horizon, he makes a quick trip back to his hometown, Bangalore, to break the news to his father, Venkob Rao (Anant Nag). Venkob Rao is an Alzheimer’s patient who has been placed in a geriatric care center by Shiva, soon after being diagnosed, due to his inability to look after him. After a shopping trip involving some rude behaviour by Shiva, Venkob Rao goes missing unexpectedly. Aided by Venkob Rao’s psychiatrist, Dr Sahana (Sruthi Hariharan), in the search, Shiva must also confront himself with some tough questions about being a good son to his father. In the meantime, Venkob Rao ends up stowing away in the getaway vehicle of Ranga (Vasishta N Simha), a taciturn gangster who makes murders look like accidents for his boss along with his assistant Manja (Ravikiran Rajendran), and ends up as a hostage in the house of the hapless Kumar (Achyuth Kumar) who chances upon them after an accident. Will Shiva find his father? Will Venkob Rao survive this ordeal? Will Ranga be able to cover up this mess successfully?
First things first, Hemanth Rao who has also written the story for the movie deserves a massive round of applause for his handling of a sensitive subject. He shows us the gradual manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease in a person and is careful not to perceive the inability of the patient’s loved ones to take care of him in a judgmental manner. Each character in the movie is fleshed out perfectly, and at no point in the movie do they ever strike a false note. And for a beginner to be able to pull that off is no less than any other achievement. From the beginning, we are sucked into the story and except for a minuscule part of the 2nd half where things seem a wee bit stretched the audience stays fully invested in the story and the characters throughout. While the movie is shot beautifully, with cinematographer capturing the chaos of Bangalore and the sinister atmosphere of the surrounding areas quite well, the editing seems slightly off in bits, with scene transitions coming off as rather awkward.
Anant Nag is quite clearly the star of this movie, and the veteran puts in what might just be the finest performance of his career here. What a performance! He holds your attention from his introductory scene right till the climax, and there is not one false note in his performance. He gets every nuance right, and when he narrates the tale of how he met his wife, during the 2nd half, he will hold you spellbound. His portrayal of a loving father whose mind is slowly deteriorating is impeccable, and for this performance, he is truly worthy of a National Award. Rakshit Shetty puts in a good performance for the most, except for certain bits in the first half where his performance seems off-key. Sruthi Hariharan as the caring psychiatrist is absolutely fantastic and lights up the screen with her mere presence. Achyuth Kumar and Aruna Balaraj as the hapless couple are pitch perfect with Achyuth’s impeccable comic timing taking the weight off an otherwise serious movie. A special mention needs to be made of Vasishta N Simha, who will remind you of Raghuvaran, as the vicious goon grappling with his conscience.
Charan Raj has done a cracking job with the soundtrack as well as the background score, both of which will stay with the audience long after watching the movie. And to director Hemanth Rao’s credit, he does not let the music intrude with the proceedings, and they blend in seamlessly with the plot. Especially noteworthy are how the songs Ee Sanjege, Ayomaya and Komala Henne have been used in the movie. And when the breezy Ee Katheyondu Shuruvagide starts playing, it is guaranteed to bring a smile to the faces of the audience.
This is easily one of the best Kannada movies to have been made in the past few years, if not the best, in spite of a few rough edges. Hemanth Rao is a director to watch out for in the future, and Anant Nag reminds us that his best is still yet to come.