Thursday, December 1, 2022

Kantara – a multi-layered, spellbinding movie

It’s been almost 6 hours since I watched Kantara and “Varaha roopam..” is still playing in my head on a loop. As someone who thinks he is decent with words, I can still barely find the words to capture the experience that is Kantara. So I am just going to say what comes naturally.

First, kudos and thanks to Team Rishab Shetty for creating this deeply moving experience which has touched people across the world overcoming language and cultural barriers. You have showcased the local with such conviction and affection, and gone global in the process, rightly so.

What a powerful way to begin and end the movie with! Rendered by Ajneesh Loknath and Sai Vignesh, Varaha Roopam is a masterpiece in Carnatic fusion with the nadaswaram capturing the tone of the film and its setting to perfection. Listen to this beauty –

Kambala (cattle race), ownership of forests, the sacred relationship between Guardian Deities and nature, faith in Devaprashna, challenging the State’s interference with bursting of firecrackers on auspicious occasions- these are multiple layers contained in the film.

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The sacred nature of the relationship between Nature and pre-colonial societies (which I touched upon in India that is Bharat) has been brilliantly conveyed through the visual medium without loss of nuance. Truly, art’s ability to pithily capture a thousand words is unmatched.

The deeply religious and spiritual roots of what are crudely dubbed “folk arts” such as Bhootha Aradhane/Bhootha Kola have been presented with such reverence, intensity and conviction that the audience was left spellbound in the last 40 minutes of the movie. Absolute paisa vasool moments!

The importance of and the logic behind treating places of natural beauty as Kshetras with their own Kshetrapalas, the sacred symbiotic and sustainable relationship this creates between humans, nature and non-humans couldn’t have been depicted better on the big screen.

These are much needed and timely lessons for eco-sensitive regions in Bharat which have been traditionally called Devabhoomis. I genuinely hope Kantara is watched in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and all other States where development is making deep inroads.

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The movie ends on a mature note with a relationship of respect and co-operation being evolved between communities and the State. This highlights the need for d State to be more cognizant of local traditions on the one hand,and the countervailing duty on the society to work with the State.

The performance of the cast, in particular the energetic presence of Rishab Shetty, the rapid fire quips and repartees, and the building of the tempo towards the jaw-dropping crescendo, make this movie a near complete package.

This was my first experience of watching a Kannada movie with English subtitles in Karnataka on the big screen. And as someone who doesn’t speak Kannada and understands only a smattering of it thanks to my Bhagyanagari Tamilian background, I absolutely loved it.

Even if you don’t understand Kannada, please try to watch it in Kannada with English subtitles and only in cinema halls. OTT cannot do justice to this movie. Such movies underscore the continued relevance of the big screen. So please watch it before it makes it to an OTT platform.

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And Bollywood – you have a lot to learn and a long way to go before you can present Bharatiya Sanskriti with such conviction. As long as you keep churning out bilge for the consumption of the woke and SoBo crowds, you will continue to fail resoundingly and deservedly.

Finally, in this interview of mine on September 25th to Navneet Vyasan of News 18 Showsha, I had shared the view that we are going to witness a glorious tussle between wokes and Bharatiyas in the realm of cinema. Grab some popcorn, the game’s on-

18. Sitting in Court I can still hear Varaha Roopam in my head (especially the majestic nadaswaram), and its imagery playing right in front of my eyes. I find myself constantly moving to the song and silently mouthing the lyrics. That’s the Kantara impact.

(This article has been compiled from the tweet thread originally tweeted by Sai Deepak J (@jsaideepak) on October 18, 2022.)

(This story has been reproduced here with permission from Hindu Post.)

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