In future, if somebody chronicles the story of the Kannada film industry, it shall have two parts – one before Avane Srimannarayana and the second after Avane Srimannarayana. Presented in a new genre called the Southern Odd Fiction, the movie raises the bar for Sandalwood in terms of technical standards and filmmaking.
If KGF had set a certain standard for the industry, ASN takes it up by a notch. The unusually lengthy trailer had set the tone for what could be expected. The trailer did get a mixed response as many felt that a bit too much was revealed in it. But, once inside the theatre you get transported to Amaravati – the fictional town where the movie is set – there is no coming back.
Five members of a drama troupe trying to run away with treasure in a lorry are waylaid by the dacoit clan Abhiras (not be confused with KGF’s Adheera) and their leader Rama Rama. After killing the artists, the dacoits, much to their disappointment, are unable to find the treasure. Incensed, Rama Rama vows to find the treasure and kill all the members of the drama troupe.
But Rama Rama dies without naming a successor, thus leaving his two step sons – Jayarama (Balaji Manohar) and Tukaram (Pramod Shetty) – fighting over the throne and the treasure. Fifteen years later, quirky cop Narayana (Rakshit Shetty) and his sidekick constable Achyutanna (Achyut Kumar) enter the scene, changing equations. The members of the drama troupe, living in exile, are waiting to put up their last show and get out of Amaravati alive. Meanwhile, the two warring brothers are convinced that each of them is getting closer to the treasure. Narayana comes as a beacon of hope to all of them. But he has his own agenda.
Hands down the best entry scene in Kannada cinema this year goes to Rakshit’s brilliant entry in Avane Srimannarayana. The whole scene is wonderfully set up. But since a lot of scenes are heavily borrowed from Wild West films, it is sure to disappoint people who are familiar with those movies. ASN, like Ulidavaru Kandante, is also inspired from a few Quentin Tarantino movies. But the way the fantasy tale unfurls is sure to keep audiences glued to the screen.
The film took three years to make and this has been justified in each frame. Even the minutest things have been taken care of – the guns, costumes for dacoits and cowboys, the fictional town, mammoth sets – the effort behind each of these is apparent on the big screen. Blending mythology with fiction itself is a challenge and the team has done a fab job. But while we do get the Rama-Ravana connection, it is hard to digest the Narayana-Ravana connection.
For Kannada audiences, this is definitely a never-before-seen genre and comes as a complete paisa-vasool entertainer. That said, the movie might not be very appealing if one misses it in the theatre. ASN is made exclusively for the big screen and you can get a kick only by watching it on the silver screen. While KGF was an out-and-out mass film, ASN can be termed a classier version.
The 3-hour-6-minute long movie takes off very slowly. In fact, the first 30 minutes is a let-down. But the slow pace is justified later when Rakshit recreates the treasure hunt scenes. The second half could have been trimmed by 30 minutes. Lengthy narration is another drawback. The recreation scenes reminds one of Kavaludaari.
Avane Srimannarayana scores high on performances. Rakshit Shetty as the smart, witty, bad cop is good to watch. The two villains, Balaji Manohar and Pramod Shetty, are apt. Balaji, owing to the character, could have been more aggressive to give us a more terrifying baddie. Pramod plays a cunning politician. Rakshit and Achyut’s one-liners evoke laughter even during serious scenes. All of these come as a saviour for the faltering narrative. Shanvi Srivastava as a journalist gets to play a de-glam role and adds different shades to ASN. We get to a see different version of the actor in Shanvi and she plays to her advantage. Rishab Shetty in a cameo as cowboy Krishna has no dialogues.
Debut director Sachin Ravi has fulfilled the promise of delivering a sure-fire hit. While Ajneesh Loknath’s background music is the film’s biggest plus, songs are the biggest shortcoming of ASN. None of them stay with you after the film. Songs are more situational and go with the flow. In fact, the intro song could have been avoided.
Also here’s a tip – don’t rush out of the theatre after the movie ends, because the end credits scene is a gold mine of details from the film. If you still have a few minutes to get to the theatre, here, decode this for that extra kick right before the climax – ‘Rama Rama Tusu Daksha Vruta Jaripa’.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.