Director: Rishab Shetty
Cast: Rishab Shetty, Sapthami Gowda, Kishore Achyuth Kumar, Pramod Shetty
Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes
Kantara is an out-of-this-world experience for which Rishab Shetty and his team needs to be commended. At the end of this film, it is very hard to come out of the trance-like environment he has created. In the film, Rishab’s character, Shiva, is haunted by nightmares. For the audience watching the film, it will be Rishab’s performance in the climax that will repeatedly haunt them. Kantara reminds you of the films of Shankar Nag. In another time, this could well have been a film directed and performed by the late actor.
Folk stories, with their blend of the supernatural, strange characters, unsolved mysteries and surprises have kept people spellbound for generations. How do you create a new folk story that combines all these elements? Kantara has the answer. And has it worked? It has succeeded beyond expectations.
Combining the rituals and sports of the coast to a not-so-surprising story of a three-cornered land dispute, Kantara blends the mysterious with the practical and creates a world you will fall in love with. This is a world that drags you in and won’t let go, even after you are done with the film.
It is nice to see the predictable start to folklore with a ‘once upon a time, there lived a king’ story. This king, in eternal distress, trades his land for peace of mind. He makes a pact with a ‘daiva’, which is accompanied with a warning. Cut to another period (1990) his descendants are trying to undo the deal, threatening to unleash the wrath of the Gods. Unsuspectingly placed in the middle of this war is our hero.
Most films that talk about nativity end their efforts with the costumes and a stressed accent. Kantara however gives so much attention to every detail that you are literally transported to the place. It will leave you wanting to book a ticket to the place. I would not be surprised if this film results in people making a beeline to watch the ‘daiva’ culture similar to what Nammora Mandara Hoove did to Yaana and Yograj Bhat’s films did to Jog Falls and ‘Mugil Pete.’
Kola, Kambala, hunting, food, beliefs and rituals are all packed into this film. They provide a unique backdrop for the story on hand. The story is simple enough but the attributes around it that makes it special. While the main characters like the angry Shiva, the sly landlord, the irritable forest officer and the damsel in distress do their job, the minor characters like the feudal henchmen, the amorous friend, the stoned workman, the cautionary higher officers fill up the detailed world of Kantara.
The brilliant cinematography captures this world in vivid detail. The camera work transports you to the middle of the action which has been made more than a little realistic than possible by the art work. In the meantime Ajaneesh Loknath has rented your mind full time with the background score.
Kantara is an experience more than a film. This film is where good intentions have been brought to life by a great support. The commitment of the producers cannot be underplayed here. In the end, the team has provided the Kannada audience with a memorable product. Cheers to that.
-S Shyam Prasad