It must be said, that the Bard’s works have a certain sense of longevity to them, considering they lend themselves to multiple forms of adaptations on different mediums even today. Macbeth for one, is a story that resonates with the public even today due to the underlying themes of greed, jealousy and guilt present in it.
Thus, when the National Award winning director, Abhaya Simha, adapts this age-old tale to a fishing community in coastal Karnataka, even eschewing the more widely spoken Kannada for the local Tulu dialect, one’s curiosity is aroused about how the story will turn out.
Madhava (Mohan Sheni) is a young spotter who works for the local fish merchant Dineshanna (Gopinath Bhat) in order to work off the debt his father had taken before dying. Dineshanna however sees Madhava as a foster son and even showers his affections on him, by getting him married to the spirited Sugandhi (Bindu Raxidi), who is part of the business and sells the fish captured on their boats.
However, when Dineshanna has a fallout with his son Manjesha (Srinidhi Achar) over his lack of interest in the family business and threatens to make Madhava his heir, that, and an ambiguously worded prophecy by the local daiva (deity) causes the seeds of avarice to sprout in the minds of Madhava and Sugandhi, leading them down a tragic path of bloodshed, one from which they may not come out alive.
First things first, it is quite evident that a lot of effort has gone into adapting Macbeth into the coastal milieu and the director Abhaya Simha who has also written the screenplay for Paddayi has done a fine job of it. He keeps the pacing crisp and the movie clocks in at an even 100 minutes, making sure the audience doesn’t end up feeling restless.
The movie takes its own time to set the plot up and draws you into the world of the fishing community of Coastal Karnataka, capturing their lives so vividly you can feel the salty breeze emanating from the screen. The detailing is immaculate, and the cinematography is stunning, capturing the chaos of the fish market, and the grey skies echoing the storm in the minds of the lead characters quite perfectly.
But the movie’s biggest trump card is its cast. Mohan Sheni as Madhava manages to portray the guilt and frustration of Macbeth impeccably, but the star of the show is Bindu Raxidi who is pitch perfect as the feisty Sugandhi, be it while manipulating her husband into furthering their ambitions or dealing with the fall out of their actions leading to hysterics. Gopinath Bhat, Srinidhi Achar, Chandrahas Ullal and Ravi Bhat lend able support with some fine performances.
To sum it up then, Paddayi is a cinematic offering that not only does justice to its source material in a manner that would make the Bard proud, but also reminds us why it earned the prestigious National award!