Saturday, March 04, 2006

Udbhava (1985)

Udbhava (1985)
Featuring: Anant Nag, Sunder Raj, Mamta Rao, Dinesh, Ashwath, Balakrishna and others.

Directed by: Kodlur Ramakrishna

Faith is what keeps us optimistic. Faith is what helps us get past impossible seeming situations that we find ourselves in. Faith is what eventually matters. But how appropriate does it seem when it is taken advantage of by a corrupt minded social framework? How much faith should one possess to avoid being taken for a ride? Faith is always just. Blind faith, however, is a questionable entity.

“Udbhava” explores these questions in a social fabric woven around it. Centered on one of the infinite narrow streets of Bangalore City, the story zooms in on the life of Raganna (Anant) who is jobless, penniless but definitely not hopeless. With a house of his own, a nagging wife (Mamta Rao in a minuscule role) and two sons, Raganna goes about his day with the only asset he has – his talking skills. He is a man of many shades when it comes to talking. One of those sly double talking chaps who will kill the snake without breaking the stick, as it were. To make the family’s ends meet, he capitalizes on peoples’ shortcomings which includes everything from threatening to expose secret lovers to killing his non existent relatives to ward off money lenders. He has a couple of devoted followers (Sunder Raj and someone else) who go around showcasing our dear man as a social worker.

Things take an interesting turn when a random road accident takes place on one of the streets in that area. Rumors start getting generated by Raganna and Co. that the government is making arrangements to widen the narrow street to enable better movement of vehicles. This, needless to say, starts poking other members in that area since they have vested interests in that street. Widening the road would mean bringing down their buildings and this does not gel well with any of them. Rich and poor alike turn to Raganna to “aid them” out of this pickle. Little do they know that it was his very rbain that manufactured this little scheme. One thing leads to another and soon this news is all over the city More characters get involved in the form of Radhakrishna, who nurses political aspirations, to lead the way in this road-widening project. A freedom-fighter threatens to starve to death if the road is not widened. . The government, not able to deal with this crisis, decides to go ahead and widen the road after all. Of course, the stick is safe and sound at this point but the snake is still not dead. Raganna is scratching his multi-processing brain to rake up an idea and hence begins a scam of gigantic proportions.

During one his early morning visits to the temple, the priest (Ashwath) spots an idol of Lord Ganesha coming out of the land. India is known for many religious places that are believed to have been emanated deities. Raganna capitalizes on this belief and before you know it, hundreds are visiting the supposedly “holy spot” to get a glimpse of this miracle. One of those visitors is Balakrishna, a sculpturer by profession, who is shocked to see that one his sculptures is now the supposedly emanated idol! He realizes there has been foul play and cries murder but in vain. The government officials who had been working on the road widening project too are roped into this vicious cycle of faith as they do not want to be responsible for invoking the Almighty’s wrath by getting rid of this holy spot He has Himself decided to grace. The road now shifts from 20 feet on either side to 40 feet on one. This puts a spanner in Dinesh’s (his last movie) vested interests and hence seeks refuge in Raganna once again.

The Math and Physics of this now boiling pot starts to heat up with each passing moment. Raganna starts to play with a lot more than just the plight of couples in love. He starts “creating God” as and when there is a problem. What started out as minor money making scheme by Rajanna now escalates out of control. Despite an opposing minority who firmly believes that this is a major scam, Raganna and his supporters (both quiet and outspoken) continue to thrive on people’s unending faith in the Almighty. All said and done everything except the road itself miraculously widening does occur.

“Udbhava” is one of those movies that show us a tongue-in-cheek view of the society we live in. The way our upbringing, especially in diverse countries like India, is so tightly knit around religious entities. The way this very entity is exploited by people like Raganna for their personal benefits. It also showcases the despair we all live in that makes us want to believe in something…anything. Even if it means celebrating a scam.

Anant controls the entire show as always. He performs his role as the scheming and deceitful Raganna with class. Somehow he seems to be tailor-made for such roles that seem to be written specifically for him. This role of a godfather-of-sorts that he essays is definitely one of his finest performances along with so many others. His comic timing is perfect as always too. Character actors like Ashwath, Balakrishna and Sunder Raj are flawless in their roles. The few minutes that Balakrishna does appear on screen reminds us what a legend our industry lost and in such a shameful way. Mamta Rao, as mentioned earlier, is alright as the abiding wife to Raganna. Other characters lend apt support to the goings on.

Technically the movie is well shot although not necessarily high budget in its production value. Music is pleasant and gels well with the storyline. The director narrates the tale of the scum that haunts our society and administration with a lot of depth. He leaves us with a profound “It is no surprise that Gods appear in our land. What is surprising is that so do many Ragannas …”

For those who have not yet seen this socially relevant comic feature I would recommend they have a look. Maybe the next time your faith is questioned, you will be able to respond to it more accurately.


vaseemali said...

what a beautiful movie was this.i had seen it on udaya sometime ago and it was on the back of my mind for quite sometime and i didnt even remember its title.thanks to your blog i not only got the title but also the movie!kudos to this era where not only could i finf the name but also the movie itself is only the part 1.part 2 and 3 are also on youtube


I loved it..its model to new gen movie makers..kudos to Kodlu and Ananthnag

Rajesh Shanker said...

Superb Story..was it based on someone's book?