Director Prashant Neel, cinematographer Bhuvan Gowda and art director Shivakumar have done an impressive job of giving a unique tone to the film.

KGF review This mega action entertainer from Yash lives up to expectations
Flix Sandalwood Friday, December 21, 2018 - 18:20

Team KGF has dreamt big in terms of production, the star cast, the marketing and the reach. Goes without saying that this was the biggest Sandalwood film of this year or probably even in the history of Kannada films. The film carried the tag of ‘Magnum Opus’ prior to the release itself. The industry and the audience have waited for this. Every bit of the publicity material (poster, first look, teaser, music) was celebrated. Amidst all the drama of a stay-order on the release just a day prior to the big day, the film scored one of the biggest openings ever. Shows started as early as 1.00 am with all the early morning shows booked houseful. The moment the advance bookings opened up, tickets sold out like hot cakes. In a way, the release of the film itself felt like a celebration.

Prashant Neel had proved his directorial, execution and cinematic presentation skills with his earlier flick Ugramm. He showed that he can bring in an imaginary world and interesting characters with a narrative that appeals to the masses. With his second film, KGF, he shows he excels in it. He seems to know the area of Kolar gold fields quite well. He used the same surroundings in Ugramm too. The choice of locations and the huge sets are impressive. The sequences are executed in such a way that a typical lover of mass films will be overwhelmed and want to whistle and cheer repeatedly. Prashanth has given room in the film to accommodate a wide set of audiences, ranging from action film lovers, heroism lovers inclusive of Yash fans, to cinephiles. Since there is a lot of violence, it will be hard to enjoy this with children.

KGF is a tale of greed – the greed for name, fame, power and a treasure. In an established crime mafia hierarchy, an underdog with a difficult childhood going on the wrong path to gain power and ultimately toppling the hierarchy is a theme that has been explored in umpteen number of films. In the 1980s, there were many films that had a powerful evil lord who exploits people as slaves to run his business. The people under them are shown leading a miserable life, abused by the guys who control the place. KGF follows a similar template, seeming like a tribute to the films of that particular era and builds over this foundation with the protagonist ending up fighting against the bad guys, crushing them and acquiring all of the name, fame and power.

Set in the backdrop of mining, KGF depicts a world where the weaker majority suffers and the powerful minority rules, and it takes that one man with the courage of his own convictions to bring in change.

The film starts with a mention of a powerful criminal and something that has been written about him in a book that has been banned by the government. A copy of that book gets into the hands of a media firm (Malavika Avinash, TS Nagabharana) and the author of the book (Anant Nag) is summoned for exploring the details. The story is narrated by means of a flashback starting with the childhood of the protagonist in one thread, the accidental discovery of gold near KGF and its growing mafia in the other thread.

Both threads meet when the protagonist moves to Mumbai and decides that he can show his might only through violence and joins the mafia. The way he becomes a part of the gang by hitting a corrupt policeman is interestingly shown. Right from that instance the separation of that “Special One” who will fight against all odds is ideated. The first half focusses on how the protagonist (Rocky played by Yash) grows and showcases his might. The story moves at a brisk pace in the beginning but there are numerous action sequences, mindless fights and lengthy dialogues to please the masses. The repeated usage of swag and build-up scenes hampers the pace as well as the viewing experience. It is at the interval that the story shifts to the gold fields.

The second half starts exploring the dynamics of people and the work culture in the mining fields. The miseries, the torture experienced by the slaves and the hunger for power continuing within the established organisation takes centre stage. The main person responsible for building the establishment, Suryavardhan, is at the fag end of his life and his son Garuda, known for his monstrous acts, wants to get hold of the empire. The others in the hierarchy do not want that to happen and hatch a plan to eliminate him. The one guy that they all can count on to do this job is Rocky, who gets into the mining fields of KGF as a slave and raises the morale of the workers. The second half moves at a faster pace with some brilliant action sequences and a superbly executed climax. All this is narrated by the author who ends up stating that this is just the beginning of the story, making way for the sequel – Chapter 2.

The screenplay reminds us a lot of Ugramm, made to fit a larger scale and with more characters making it hard to remember who is who. Even though it is long, a good thing is that story never gets out of context at any moment. There are no unnecessary inserts. The only comic relief is provided by the guy who supplies tea in the media firm. There are these return-to-childhood and mother-sentiment sequences that are repeated at regular intervals. Over a certain timeline that does not seem to make sense.

It would have been great if the screenplay had a mix of genres so that it would also appeal to folks who are not into mass films. There is a good scope for that in chapter 2 if the geopolitical aspects get explored as there is direct involvement of political power in getting the KGF empire demolished. Apart from the main protagonist and the antagonist, there is hardly any good characterisation that is worth a mention. The protagonist is not just portrayed as a man with muscle power, he is shown as intelligent, someone who will not act in haste but wait for the right time and strike, no matter how difficult the job. The bad guys are shown as extremely wicked with scary faces.

When it comes to performances, it’s Yash all over. This is the type of role he does best. Showcasing heroism with modulated lengthy dialogues delivered in his signature style, use of his typical swag, all fall within his comfort zone and he does an impressive job. This may be stereotypical but he knows that this is exactly what gets celebrated and talked about. Srinidhi Shetty doesn’t have much of a role to play but she looks great in the sequences she features in. Veterans Anant Nag, Achyut Kumar, Malavika Avinash, Beesu Suresha, Nagabharana and Vashishta Simha have very few scenes to gauge their performance. Tamanna, who sizzles in an item number, the revived version of yesteryear classic “Joake”, will probably fade from our minds by the time the movie finishes. The song was unnecessary and does not add anything in terms of narrative, visuals or the experience.

Technically this film scores high due to the brilliant visuals, CGI and sound design. Cinematography by Bhuvan Gowda is one of the best that has come out from the Kannada film industry. How much proportion a frame should capture, the top angle shots, the long shots and especially the action sequences are mind-blowing. Music by Ravi Basrur goes well with the film but it feels like the same epic themes that he has used in his earlier films. “Salaam Rocky Bhai” and “Dheerana” are two hummable numbers. Shrikanth Gowda has edited the film well making for a smooth flow of the narrative except for the repetitive build-up sequences in the first half. The main guy who has made the movie look great is art director Shivakumar. Never before were sets this huge. Together with Bhuvan, he has done an impressive job of giving a tone to the film that makes it unique. The biggest appreciation should go for Vijay Kiragandur and Karthick Gowda of Hombale films for investing in such a dream and also to Prashant Neel who has made the dream a reality on the silver screen.

This film certainly will work for the Kannada audience but it would be interesting to see how it impacts viewers pan India, considering it has been released in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. If it turns out to be a pan India hysteria, then this will be a big boost for Kannada cinema.

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.

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