Sandalwood
The movie, jointly directed by Pon Kumaran and music director V Harikrishna, is about a village fighting to keep corporate oil companies at bay.
Worth a watch

The last few years have been an average show for Darshan, and his fans have been outright disheartened. Post Ambareesha (which released in 2014), his films have struggled to satisfy a very demanding fandom. With Yajamana, Darshan is back on the silver screen after almost two years and his fans had high expectations from him – thanks to a neatly packaged trailer and engaging jukebox. The trailer and songs had promised a typical family entertainer tailor-made for Dacchu (as he is fondly known) fans. But, during the film’s promotions, Darshan had made it clear that the film was not extraordinary but a typical family entertainer with mainstream commercial elements. The film stands by every word he said.

In a posh corporate office, we see the chief of an oil conglomerate, Devi Shetty (Anoop Singh Thakur) declare that he would kill anyone who tried to come between him and his business. The camera pans out and far away from this urbane locale, we see Hulidurga – hub of oil mills. The villagers, guarded by a powerful yajamana (master), have managed to keep corporate companies at bay for years. Devi Shetty sets his eyes on Hulidurga unaware about the guardian of the town – Krishna (Darshan). This sets the tone for the movie, taking the audience on a commercial ride that is high on fights, sentiment, romance and, not to forget, comedy.

Krishna is the apple of the villagers’ eyes. He is humble, kind, big-hearted and is the protector of the village. Just like his father (Devaraj), Krishna too is a man of values. How Krishna manages to fight the conglomerate while making the villagers understand the dirty business tactics of corporates and businessmen is told with a lot of commercial elements.

In one scene, Darshan reminds the villain: however big the villain, it is the hero who wins in the end. With this, the audience knows what will happen in the climax. But that does not make Yajamana another ignorable movie. It has a hidden message for all of us, a message that needs to be told, heard and assimilated especially in the current scenario.

The film is a one-man show and Darshan stands out. He excels in every scene. Darshan knows his strengths very well and makes sure that it is all included in his films. Rashmika Mandanna as village belle Kaveri and Krishna’s love interest has nothing much to do. Tanya Hope as Ganga, a journalist, has done a good job but her role is reduced to being just an eye candy.

Dhananjaya as broker Mithai Soori is a big disappointment. For starters, his role is too small and to top that it is poorly scripted. After all the Daali hype, Dhananjaya’s fans sure deserve more of Mithai Soori. Anoop Singh Thakur is just okay; it feels like anybody could have done his role with ease. Ravi Shanker plays a comic villain and entertains audience along with Sadhu Kokila. Comedy is thankfully bearable, unlike in other commercial movies.

Though the camera work deserves appreciation, editing could have been crisper. While the predictable script is a big setback, repetitive scenes are another disappointment.

The movie is jointly directed by Pon Kumaran and music director V Harikrishna. Songs are the biggest highlight of the film and Harikrishna deserves all the credit for giving us a fab album. This can be considered his best work till date. ‘Shivanandi’ and ‘Yajamana’ come out as strong fan anthems. ‘Basanni’ is foot-tapping and the best song in the album. Though ‘Ondu Munjaane’ is very good, the placement of the song becomes questionable.

A clichéd commercial movie is all about hero glorification. Thankfully Yajamana spares us from this agony, yet incorporating several dialogues and scenes that make fans go gaga and whistle. That does not mean the film is perfect. Well, it could have been almost perfect if the makers had taken a tougher stand when the film was on the editing desk. Repetitive scenes could have been easily avoided and the script could have been stronger considering Darshan’s persona.

The movie is predictable but that can be overlooked as it is a strong family entertainer with the necessary commercial elements.

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.