The one thing Hombanna can promise its audiences is a story that’s almost completely missing in Kannada cinema.
The story of a small hamlet of forest-dwelling farmers being evicted in the name of environmental conservation, Hombanna is a long distance away from the standard fare of Sandalwood. Indeed, the film opens with a lot of potential, since it aspires to tell a complex narrative of the people caught between the forest department and the police on the one hand, and guerrilla fighters and journalists on other hand.
So, alongside the imminent threat of being forced off the land that they’ve lived on for generations, they also face the possibility of being caught in the crossfire of the battle between the police and the guerrilla fighters. There is also a village strongman, with backing from the local MLA, who comes with his own lobbies and interests that need protecting.
However, the glimmers of this complex plot never come to the surface thanks to some very sub-standard direction by Rakshith Thirthahalli. The film shifts too rapidly between the various strands of the story, pushing the whole narrative into an incoherent muddle.
So, while the story tries to make important points about class biases in how the question of encroachment is decided on, and tries to portray the shortsightedness of environment conservation that ignores human lives, these points end up as pedantic lectures that interrupt other frenetic action.
And while the story picks up on a complex issue, it wants to play it out as a simple black and white narrative, where the heroes and villains never cross over.