Saturday, February 04, 2006

Chigurida Kanasu (2003)

Chigurida Kanasu (2003)
Featuring : Shivaraj Kumar, Anant Nag, Avinash, Radha Tripathi, Vidya Venkatesh and others
Directed by: T S Nagabharana

First things first. Before reading this review the reader needs to have some insight into the background of my psyche about this movie. I watched ‘Swades’ almost 6 months before I saw ‘Chigurida Kanasu’. Now the only reason I saw the latter was because almost everyone I met after watching the former invariably said “Ah! Big deal! It is a remake of ‘‘Chigurida Kanasu’!” While I understand and agree with the need to draw parallels with a successful Kannada movie with yet another successful feature and give credit where it is due, it is also vital that we see these two movies in completely separate lights. At the risk of people throwing bulky near-by objects at me, I am going to say it. These movies find inspiration from a generic moral but take off one completely different route in execution.

True. Both these movies start off similarly but while ‘Swades’ took a deeper look at the grassroot level necessities of rural India, ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ takes a look at a wider more varied issue of a man overcoming several hurdles to achieve a goal. If the only ‘enemy’ in ‘Swades’ was the mindset of individuals, ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ deals with more visible and real foes in the form of characters in the plot. If ‘Swades’ was about eventually doing something for our nation, ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ tries to capture everything. While this is not necessarily a dissection of one story as two separate treatments, we should not watch either of these movies with any comparison to the other in mind. As I said, ‘Swades’ is not ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ and vice versa.

Shankar (Shivaraja Kumar) is a Delhi-born and bred just-graduated engineer. He lives a life anyone would envy with a doting father (Anant Nag) and a loud and annoying mother (do you really care what her name is?) who cant even say ‘I love you, my dear son’ without making it sound like a threat. He also has a younger brother (again, a nameless entity) who is shown to be a pilot. While Shankar is happy with where he is in life and where he will be, somewhere deep in his heart something tugs at him all the time telling him this is not where he belongs. Shankar’s Delhi-based girlfriend is a Kannadati (Vidya Venkatesh) and does a pretty neat job teaching our Hindi-speaking friend some Kannada. While this jolly little couple has their head stuck in the clouds, Shankar’s mom is making arrangements to have him married. Reluctantly Shankar agrees to see the bride-to-be. During this little scheme-based event, he realizes the letter B in his name stands for ‘Bangaadi’ which is either a person or a town of some sort. Shankar finally finds a ray of hope in this name. To add more oxygen to his yearning heart he discovers he is a Kannadiga too! That moment his father tells him “Speak in Kannada, my son. It has been so long since I have heard that language.”, a shiver runs through a true-blue Kannadiga as we see ourselves mirrored in Shankar’s tears. One of the most brilliantly shot scenes in the movie. Anant confesses he walked away from his roots since it, according to him, betrayed his father (a Shivaraja Kumar look-alike, duh!) and no longer wishes to be a part of it. Shankar, on the other hand, has found new light. He will not let anything stop him from going back to his roots.

With much retaliation from the Hindi-camp, Shankar takes off on his unknown journey. He visits his college mate from Karnataka and is shocked to realize that ‘Bangaadi’ actually is a small village not far from where his friend stays. He visits his roots for the first time in his entire life. Another scene that appealed to me was when he places his hand on the cold stone-floor in his friend’s house. It is then you realize he has found his home. His real home.

Shankar meets his grand-father’s sister, an old and frail lady who is shocked and relieved to see her brother’s re-incarnation appear in front of her eyes. She narrates the story of her life and the incidents that led to Shankar’s grand-father to flee his own roots. She shows him the piece of land that belonged to their family and requests him to re-build the now in ruins house of theirs. Enter Shaanbog sir (Avinash) as the dubious villain of the plot. Having run the old lady’s life all these years, the idea of some random foreigner entering their lives does not please our man. He has a young and cheerful daughter in the shape of Rekha Tripathi (I forget what her name in the movie was) who teaches in a self-run school in that village. As is customary in our movies since they began, the village belle plucks out her heart and hands it over to Mr.Delhi-returned Shankarji. [Sometimes I wonder if I too should find a village and go there since the city girls don’t seem to be caring that I too am a ‘videsi babu’! I mean, so many hundreds of directors cannot be wrong……or can they? Of course, that is a quest for another time.]

Meanwhile Shankar returns home with this great news for his father. He cannot wait to tell them all about it and take the entire family (girlfriend included) with him to Bangaadi. As we would know it, none of them agree to return except a disappointed Shankar. Another neat scene is when he waits for his girlfriend at the railway station hoping she would come to see him off. There comes a moment of uncertainty where he almost alights from the train and walks away from his quest, but his heart and his grandmother’s words stop him from doing so. As a weeping ‘I-don’t-love-you-enough-to-support-your-cause’ girlfriend watches the train disappear, Shankar has embarked on a whole new journey.

Once back in Bangaadi things accelerate. And not just between Shankar and Shaanbog but also between Shankar and his land, his ‘cant-you-tell-my-heart-is-yours?’ eye-batting teacher friend and between Shankar and his aging grandmother. With great will comes great grace (not referring to the show ‘Will and Grace’) and hence Shankar manages to gracefully build a strong bridge across the river in that village. A bridge that the Shanbhog swears never to step on but does so in a rather amusing fashion. More development projects catch speed in the form of ‘not-too-lethal’ electricity supply that our engineer-babu manages to generate (This sequence has ‘‘Swades’ copied it’ written all over it. Fair enough.) He turns to the back bone of our nation – agriculture and starts working on his land much to Shanbog’s envy and rage. The teacher girl manages to blend herself into Shankar’s life and starts dreaming of a life together with this noble man.

Enter Shankar’s long-lost Delhite Kannadati girlfriend! The teacher’s dreams are crushed by this and in a rather captivating scene the teacher and Shankar’s girlfriend end up making it clear to each other that both of them cannot have a place in Shankar’s life. The rest is cliché with the girlfriend doing the sacrifice and traveling back to Delhi with a broken heart.

The remaining part of the story is up for grabs. It involves all the necessary elements in a typical commercial fare with fights, misunderstandings, realizations, a couple of timely deaths et al.

Shivraja Kumar is in his element as the ‘desperate-for-roots’ Shankar who gives up a bright prospect in life to find himself. This performance is touted as Shivraja’s best performances and I agree with slight reluctance since I still believe ‘Om’ is what saw Shivraja in his complete form. Of course, this is just my opinion. His Hindi-accent needed serious polishing. One wishes had call-centers been more effective during the time this movie was shot, accent-training might have been easy. Despite his best efforts Shivraja does not come off as a convincing Hindi-chap due to this. This makes the character-sketch a little bleak although it does not hinder the progress of the movie in any way. Anant is at his usual best with a bang-one performance although he seemed under-used as the hopeless father. There could have been a wonderful side-character for him had he joined Shankar in the village and met his long-lost aunt. Vidya Venkatesh and Radha are stable as the girls vying for Shankar’s heart. Avinash is at his usual best (one more super performance by this accomplished actor) chipping in the right amounts of evil in the goings on. All the other characters including Krishne Gowda lend apt support to the central character.

Technically the movie is well shot. The natural surroundings of Bangaadi and the picturesque locales of Ganges on the banks of Varanasi are well portrayed. Background music is good with some catchy numbers although a couple of songs could have been chopped off. Nagabharana does a fine job in narrating the tale of a lost individual finding himself and standing up against all odds to get back what is rightfully his. Editing sometimes tends to slow things down but nothing that one would generally notice.

A fine script with a noble theme and a strong message. Shankar ends up finding his roots. We all can only hope we know where our roots lie and if we don’t, this movie beckons you to search for it.

As I said earlier, I for one, found both ‘Swades’ and ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ very different in their approaches and treatment. I will agree that ‘Swades’ drew the basic inspiration and a few scenes here and there from ‘Chigurida Kanasu’ but it is definitely not a remake by a far shot. At the end of day, what does matter is what you take away from it.


Sushrutha Nagaraj said...

thanks for the info,and the concluding verse is superb.

hpn said...

Just read this and thought "wow!"

Lovely review. :-)

I'm watching this blog from now on. Curious about what you would write about the latest bunch.

amogha said...

only last 3 paragraphs are written in the liberal view.

Giri said...

This is a nice way to educate people to respect each movie for it's good in its own way.Well written.good job!

vasu said...

that was good job man... now i'll seriously consider watching critically acclaimed kannada movies
I really liked 'swades' but considering your review about chigurida kanasu .... i feel its worth watching.... thanks for being very informative

shreyaskarnad said...

I really appreciate your effort. Good review of the movie Chiguridha Kanasu and well said views on the movie. I haven't watch Swades, but Chiguridha Kanasu stands out as one of the best made Kannada movies made in the recent times but it is sad our people let go off these movies. :( - Thats the fate of such movies.

shreyaskarnad said...

I really appreciate your effort. Good review of the movie Chiguridha Kanasu and well said views on the movie. I haven't watch Swades, but Chiguridha Kanasu stands out as one of the best made Kannada movies made in the recent times but it is sad our people let go off these movies. :( - Thats the fate of such movies.

Vijay said...

I bumped into this review while searching for 'Chigurida Kanasu'. Amazing review. Excellent language and good choice of words.

Indudhara said...

Oh, cool.. Appreciabl review on d comparison of both films.. And comments r cool lik a true kannadiga can feel proud of kannada lik me :-) and both d actors r considrd as 'S R K' of dual industries.. I ve watchd both films and am d fan of both actors'.. And i make a will to watch chigurida kanasu often.. Though i ve both cd s ;)