In its loosest sense, Buckaasuura is inspired by the 1997 Hollywood film The Devil’s Advocate starring Keanu Reeves and Al Pacino. For anyone who remembers the Hollywood original and curses me for revealing such a major plot spoiler, you can relax. The sheer strangeness of the Kannada remake means that you can only spot the inspiration if you look very hard and very closely.
So, Buckaasuura, starring Rohitt and V Ravichandran, is ostensibly a morality tale about the dangers of pursuing wealth and material comforts at the cost of family, love and humanity. Rohitt plays Arya, a lawyer who discovers his route to fame in victim blaming a woman to save his client from charges of rape. Suddenly, there’s a rich and powerful man called Chakravarthy (Ravichandran) interested in hiring him as a legal counsel and showering him with gifts like expensive cars, lakhs of money and even his own palatial house.
But just when everything seems to going right, it all starts to unravel. Arya’s partner (Kavya Gowda) starts to see and hear strange things in the house and seems to be losing her mind. But Arya is still too eager for wealth to notice, until life takes a few drastic turns.
If this sounds like a healthy enough adaptation of The Devil’s Advocate in synopsis, the way it unfolds is another matter. Where the Hollywood original used smart writing and clever visual designs and effects to give the film a thrilling touch, Buckaasuura clumsily trips across its plotline. Trying to pull together a mix of comedy, horror and drama, writer and director Navaneeth gets lost in inexplicable tangles that simply confuse and frustrate. Right in the middle of a “dramatic” courtroom scene, for instance, pop up unnecessary jokes about pure Kannada versus ‘Kanglish’ slang. Or a dreaded terrorist sympathiser will suddenly start singing Dr Rajkumar songs in the middle of a trial.
Of course, the dramatic portions never quite generate enough tension, and make such a mockery of even the simplest rules of evidence and legal arguments that the unnecessary comedy fits right in.
Arya’s relationship with his shadowy benefactor takes similarly bizarre turns, as the young lawyer is put through a series of nonsensical tests to prove his ambition and resourcefulness. It doesn’t help that Ravichandran phones in his part, looking slightly bored through most of his scenes.
Meanwhile, important parts of the story, such as Arya’s relationship with his partner and her eroding sanity are completely short-changed. So, when things take a sudden dramatic turn on that end, all you can think is, “That escalated quickly!”
Given how little space she has to develop her character, it’s not surprising that Kavya struggles to be convincing. Rohitt, meanwhile, is too stone-faced to handle the large amount of screen-time he receives at the centre of the tale.
And just when you think the film couldn’t get any stranger, the film throws in a coma, a ghost and déjà vu in an attempt to unsuccessfully untangle itself. All you can do is shake your head in confusion and frustration.