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KGF: Chapter 1 – Movie Review

Kannada Film Industry’s costliest film till date doesn’t disappoint in entirety. The money shows. There’s enough to talk about visuals here, and the cinematographer deserves a hefty pay-check, but was the writer paid enough?

The Yash-starrer starts off on a promising note. Subhalekha Sudhakar’s voice introduces us to the beginnings of the man who will eventually go on to “rule” Mumbai; and at several crucial points in the film, the depth in this voice and the way he narrates the story doesn’t disappoint. Dialogues by Hanuman Chowdhary, although a mixed bag, sound genuinely important and mention-worthy simply by taking form in Mr. Sudhakar’s voice. However, things get confusing pretty quickly in this saga of style over substance.

Information overload is one of this film’s biggest problems. Within the first 20 minutes, you are given at least 8 distinct names to remember and all of them are supposedly important in the story about to unfold. I really like the idea of them “just telling” the audience whatever happened in a story-like fashion, but there’s just too much of it, too fast (and sometimes using a standard of Telugu not many millennials would understand). I am not kidding when I say the first half alone could be a movie in itself.

I generally do not enjoy the kind of toxic masculinity our films are celebrating (and the audience, enjoying; case in point Arjun Reddy, RX 100, Pokiri…you get the drift) – and there’s plenty of that in this film – but if this is the story the makers want to say, I won’t find a fault with that. As you’d expect, like in most films like this, there’s a lot of character(hero)-worshipping/fearing that happens, but it happens so often that it’ll tire you out. We get it, Rocky (Yash) is here to “rule” Mumbai and everyone’s scared AF of him, you don’t have to conjure up half a dozen fight sequences and a dozen dialogues like “Rocky peru vintene andariki bhayam” over and over again to make us understand this simple fact.

Some may like this kind of editing, but I found it jarring. The camera doesn’t give you enough time to soak in the details of a frame before it cuts to another, and then another, and then yet another. It’s like a slideshow of images played at 3x.

The first half still had the story moving forward. The second plateaus for a long, long time with aerial shots and slow-mo close-ups as filler material. And then in the concluding 20 mins, the film picks up. There’s nothing in here we haven’t seen before, but there sure are some shots/scenes worth applauding. If anything, this movie tries to be an experience and to some extent, succeeds. That said, this film is also an overload on so many aspects. Background score, although really good, is used to bring some life into scenes that are otherwise unimportant to the proceedings. Also, I don’t think there ever was a second without any kind of dialogue/background score. And then there’s the visual overload that I talked about before. This is the kind of film that makes us crave for silence.

I haven’t seen his  other movies, but Yash here doesn’t get shit loads to do. Some 3-4 expressions and a lot of ass-kicking, stabbing, shooting is all there is to do, and he is good. Half his face is covered by mustache and beard, so his eyes must do the heavy lifting, and there’s not much remarkable going on there. It wouldn’t have made any difference to the film if Srinidhi Shetty’s character ceased to exist. There’s also some casual sexism and lack of consent shit thrown in, so…

Don’t get me started on the item song ft. Tamannaah. JUST WHY? Anyway, after living on South Indian (mostly Telugu) movies all my life, I have learnt to not ask certain questions.

I was just going through whatever I wrote so far and realized I am shitting on this film more than I thought. I’ll stop. I’m going with 2 out of 5 for this one. Nothing as disappointing as wasted potential.

Disclaimer:

The views expressed are solely of the author. If you have different views, spare him the name-calling. We can feel differently about a movie, and that’s okay. Trolls are okay, but disrespect is not.

All the images used are YouTube screenshots from the film’s official trailer on YouTube. Featured image courtesy: BookMyShow

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