Thursday, January 19, 2006

Raktha Kanneeru (2003)

Featuring : Upendra, Ramya Krishnan, Kumar Bangarappa, Abhirami.
Director : Sadhu Kokila
I had heard a lot of positive things about this movie from family and friends last summer. But somehow I never managed to find a VCD /DVD to watch it at home. Nor was it running in any of the cinemas in Bangalore that I knew of.

Let me say this before I share my thoughts on the movie. I saw this movie over a 2 day period. To elaborate, I saw about an hour’s worth on say a Friday night, and then the remaining part the following night. All I can say is that there was a drastic change in my viewpoint after I had seen the complete movie.

Raktha Kanneeru is the story of the life and times in the early post-independence era. It is a story of Mohan (Upendra) who returns to India after many years. The opening scenes very quickly take the viewer into his life and the kind of person he is. The only expression that I can think of for him at that stage is “a self righteous pinhead”. He has so much wealth that arrogance of the extreme kind takes over. He finds everything in India nasty, in a condition of disrepair and the people are no different. One does wonder if it bothers him so much then why did he come back. Of course, there is more money involved so I guess that takes care of such wonderings. Reeling under the almost devastating western influence this young man has undergone, he ends up in the “adult entertainment center” (read brothel) of Kaanta (Ramya Krishnan) and her greedy mother and pimp. Pretty cliché stuff this.

Events that follow are nothing new to the Indian cine-viewers either. He spends too much time (read nights) with this “lady” and hence the mother and a close friend (Kumar Bangarappa – who I have always considered a good performer) decide on getting our “Mr.I-don’t-belong-here” Indian married. Enter Chandra (Abhirami) – the rustic, vermillion cheeked, completely clothed and flowered (this sort of threw me off a bit too!) village belle. I must admit the fit she has on their wedding night has been amazingly captured. I was laughing every minute during that time. As sad as it was to see this innocent little girl be scandalized by an atrocious Mohan (Uppi re-defines the word “aroused”) I completely enjoyed Upendra’s flawless performance as the lust-seeking pervert.

A pattern emerges here. Mohan is not at all pleased with this shy and quiet bride of his though one wonders what he was thinking when he agreed to marry her! He gets back to his old ways of spending all his wealth on the voluptuous Kaanta and co. Things get worse when Mohan’s mother dies due to all the pain and suffering she has had to go through because of her worthless offspring. Everything else is the same (typical Bollywood script about suspected innocents et al) until the point when disease hits our anti-hero. If this movie was shot in an era of post 2000 A.D then I am sure they would have used AIDS as the disease in picture. However, for the sake of the era, leprosy seemed more fitting.

My true appreciation for this movie starts here. Once the scene that shows Upendra in a dilapidated state has passed by, you cannot stop thinking of how he was. The lavish, Non Resident Indian who had everything in life – a loving mother, a caring wife and an under-appreciated friend appears in front of you many times. The second half of the movie that portrays the Almighty’s silent sword cutting our leading man into bits is what makes this movie click for me. The justification of all his deeds has been captured well.

For those who have not seen this movie, I do not wish to share any more information on it. What happens next is something to be seen and experienced rather than narrated.

Music is a decent affair although the title song “Kanneeru…Raktha Kanneru..” stands out. It could have been a highlight of the movie since the script has a lot of potential for some excellent background score.

No major technical aspects to this movie. Just the plain old camera doing what it has done for so many decades. A few nip and tuck in the editing department would have been nice to keep the story more centered.

Performance wise this is an Upendra movie from start to end. I have always adored his movies – SShh, A, Om etc but as an actor, he wins hands down. If there is ever a role of a leper in any movie in the future, Upendra will fit into it like a T. His monotonous and rather interesting way of delivering dialogs starts off as annoying, but ends being his trademark as Mohan.

Abhirami and Ramya Krishnan are strictly ok considering they were assigned stereotypical roles. Kumar Bangarappa remains consistent as Mohan’s conscience reminder. Comic scenes do exist, but it is ironic that Upendra’s comic timing makes them look like infants. Other comic scenes are nothing to write home about. The nip and tuck could have happened here.

Nice movie with a very strong message about human behavior and how it affects the individuals around - including the human himself/herself.
ShaKri Rates this movie 4 out of 5.

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