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Kantara Review: Lavishly Shot Folklore Story

Kantara Review: Lavishly Shot Folklore Story

Movie: Kantara
Rating: 3/5
Hombale Films
Cast: Rishab Shetty, Kishore, Achyuth Kumar, Sapthami Gowda and others
Music: Ajaneesh Loknath
Director of Photography: Arvind S. Kashyap
Editor: K. M. Prakash, Pratheek Shetty
Producer: Vijay Kiragandur
Written and directed by: Rishab Shetty
Release Date: Oct 15, 2022

After setting the box office on fire in Karnataka, the latest Kannada hit ‘Kantara’ got dubbed into Telugu and hit the screens today.

Let’s find out what the hype is all about.

A king in the 1800s gave his forest land to the local tribe's people. In the 1970s, one of the king’s successors tried to claim the lands as his. When he moves to court to claim the land, he dies on the steps of the court.

In 1990, a forest officer Murali (Kishore) lays restrictions on the forest dwellers saying the government land cannot be touched. The local youth Shiva (Rishab Shetty) challenges Murali. 

Shiva is also a loyal henchman to the local feudal lord Devendra (Achyuth Kumar). Wrongly assuming that Murali tries to usurp their community from the forests, Shiva goes against him. Shiva’s father was a Kola ritual performer, in their forests and his cousin Guruva practices the same. 

When Guruva was killed brutally, Shiva gets to know reality. The rest of the drama is about vengeance. 

Artistes’ Performances:
Kannada actor Rishab Shetty suits well to the character of a 90’s rustic youngster. His brilliant performance comes out in the penultimate sequences. His acting is simply superb in the last 25 minutes. 

Kishore as forest officer does excellently. Achyuth Kumar as the feudal lord gives a terrific performance. Sapthami Gowda as the female lead is okay. 

Technical Excellence:
The film has technical brilliance. The cinematography is top-notch. Set in a deep forest, the filming of Kolam sequences and the buffalo race are mesmerizing.

Music director Ajaneesh’s background score and the cameraman’s brilliant shots have created a terrific mood. They steal the show. The film has a slow pace.

Climax sequences
Cinematography and background music
Rishab’s final performance

Middle portion
Cliched jokes

To get a grip on the latest Kannada blockbuster “Kantara”, we also need to know the customs, folk culture, and the land of Dakshina Karnataka (Mangalore area). The western ghat region of Karnataka is home to deep forests and unique culture. Bhoota Kola is a ritual, where a man performs with all the colorful makeup and finally delivers a speech. People believe that the speech is God's word. This myth or legend exists in this region. Some families follow the customs.

The hero of “Kantara” belongs to the Bhoota Kola family. The film begins with a King’s story in 1847 and then cuts to 1970 when the hero’s father performs Kolam and mysteriously disappears into forests. In 1990, when the story is set, the hero is haunted by dreams. He sees god coming in Varaha roopam. It is his guilt as he hunts pigs in the forest. 

So, there is a hero, whose father was Bhoota Kola, and one who sees God in dreams. And the hero is working for a feudal lord, who acts as their protector. Then the main conflict is about the encroachment of the forests and lands. Director Rishab Shetty has added elements of myth, folklore, and local traditions to tell the story. We need to take all these into account to understand this film. 

Simply, the film is a regular masala film of a brother taking revenge on the feudal lord who kills his cousin. There are clichéd sequences. The love story between the hero and heroine is dull. It lacks any novelty. The villain is in plain sight. The villain’s (played by Achyuth Kumar of ‘KGF’) role is also quite clichéd. 

The comedy scenes and drinking sequences are quite boring as well. But despite these issues, many elements have made the film unique and immersive. 

Much of the film delves into the hero’s hunting habits, his romantic episodes, his camaraderie with local friends, and their village issues. But when the hero’s cousin gets killed, the film takes an entirely different route and it turns into a thrilling ride. The final 20 minutes of this film provide a riveting experience. Acting, taking, music, and sound design have synced well in this episode. Thus, ‘Kantara’ becomes a riveting film.

‘Kantara’ means deep forest. For Telugu audiences, the middle portions and some comedy sequences don’t work but the film’s strength lies in the climax episode and technical aspects.  On a whole this film takes the audience into a different world with its amazing background and sound effects. This is for those who want to experience an out of the box experience.  

Bottom line: A different experience


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