Annavru, as Dr Rajkumar is popularly known, may have passed away 11 years ago, but still holds a hallowed place in the hearts of Sandalwood fans. This means that any film that nostalgically and reverentially returns him to the screen is guaranteed to draw in thousands of fans. Doubly so if the film stars one of Dr Rajkumar’s sons.
Bangara S/O Bangarada Manushya takes this point very literally, splicing together a farmer-centric film by borrowing directly from Dr Rajkumar’s classic hit Bangarada Manushya. As in real life, so in this film, Shivraj (Shivarajkumar) is the son of Bangarada Manushya (Dr Rajkumar). When Shivraj learns about his father and all he did for farmers in Karnataka, he is inspired to lead another agricultural revolution to save the farmers of his father’s village from land acquisition.
Alongside the nostalgia for Dr Rajkumar, the film also plays out a trope that found much success in Puneeth Rajkumar’s recent Rajakumara – that of the diasporic Kannadiga hero returning home to become a local hero who saves the hapless natives from evil politicians and businessmen.
The social message of the film is sure to win it many fans. However, the pressure to give it an unambiguous resolution that bolsters the pious but heroic image of its protagonist is so strong that any chance of a deep and meaningful engagement with the real lives and problems of farmers is lost. In this, Bangara S/O Bangarada Manushya continues the stock formula of recent Kannada blockbusters, trading simplistic solutions for any hard-hitting depictions of reality.
As is visible in the opening and closing stages of the film, any plotting outside of this heroic narrative is a mere afterthought. The romance involving Vidya Pradeep, in particular, seems completely unnecessary and superfluous to the film, as is the presence of Sadhu Kokila for a short and quite unfunny comedy track.
In the end, Bangara S/O Bangarada Manushya is only worth a watch for the die-hard fan of Dr Rajkumar and Shivrajkumar. For everyone else it only offers a predictable story with a populist nod towards farmers’ lives.