Sandalwood
There's not a single boring moment in this brilliantly crafted film.
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The Kannada audience has started accepting new genres and experimental films for the last few years. The recent list of critically acclaimed films which have done well at the box-office is a testimony to that.

Three intriguing personalities – Power Star Puneeth Rajkumar, Hemanth M Rao and Ananth Nag - have come together for a neo-noir thriller and the audience couldn’t be more thrilled. A police character, in the average movie, is either black or white. He is either tainted with corruption or a hero who can deliver justice right at the doors of police stations. We rarely find movies that pay a fitting tribute to the police officers for their thankless job. This is where Kavaludaari (crossroads) comes in.

Kavaludaari, a whodunnit thriller set in the Emergency period, is suspenseful and keeps you hooked to your seats throughout. The film opens with a scattered-yet-brilliantly shot murder scene set in the 1970s. Soon, we are transported to the present. Shyam (Rishi) is a traffic cop who dreams to get into khaki some day. While the chances look very thin, one day he stumbles upon a pile of bones at a Metro construction site. He takes it upon himself to solve the crime and ends up seeking help from retired alcoholic cop Muthanna (Ananth Nag). The duo, along with journalist (Achyut Kumar), try to solve the murder mystery which opens up a Pandora’s box. What follows is a well-made edge-of-the-seat thriller.

The movie takes its time to unfold but the best part is that you aren’t bored even for a minute and neither do you feel that a single scene is unwanted. We often ridicule the police and expect them to be superhumans. We rarely get to know their true selves. Kavaludaari sheds light on their lives and tells us that they are human too and deserve our respect. A scene where Shyam and Muthanna discuss their lives in the khaki uniform is heart-wrenching.

Most directors play it safe by opting for the same formula as their debut movie if it was successful. Rarely do we see directors taking a big leap into a new genre. Hemanth M Rao deserves all the appreciation for the absolutely savoury package that Kavaludaari has turned out to be.

Hemanth’s debut film Godhi Banna Sadhaarana Maikattu spoke volumes about his ability as a director. Ananth Nag’s monologue in the film showed us Hemanth's brilliance as a director and his ability to bring out the most powerful performance from a veteran actor. The duo collaborating again has turned out to be a great idea.

Hemanth excels as both director and writer with Kavaludaari. The transition from drama to thriller deserves commendation. When it comes to acting, it is Rishi’s brilliant show all the way. Though he debuted as a chocolate boy hero with Operation Alamelamma, Kavaludaari gives him a double promotion as an actor. His role as an honest police officer is convincing and has been written with a lot of layers.

Veteran actor Ananth Nag’s acting skills need no introduction. He has raised the bar very high for supporting actors. Roshni Prakash plays Ananth Nag’s daughter and has done a decent job. Suman Ranganath is extraordinary and revealing more details about her role is akin to giving away the key elements of the film. The ensemble cast has been picked carefully. Roles – small or big – the actors have given excellent performances. Every scene has something interesting and entertaining to it. The detailing is hard to miss. There are many thrilling and chilling scenes throughout the film that get a lot of hoots and whistles. 

Hemanth has reiterated that a hit movie need not always be commercial. He has not succumbed to the pressure of including any such commercial elements and hence has come up with a neat thriller. Charan Raj’s music complements the thriller and evokes adds the right emotions. Cinematographer Advaitha Gurumurthy’s camera knows what to show the audience and he has done total justice to the storyline and direction.

The movie is a must watch and if you are a thriller fan, Kavaludaari will be your new favourite.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.