Baanadariyalli review: This Ganesh, Rukmini Vasanth romance is laden with cliches
Baanadariyalli (Kannada)(3 / 5)
Warning: Mild spoilers ahead
There are love stories and there are stories about love. Sometimes, the latter end up sneaking into your heart by default. Preetham Gubbi’s Baanadariyalli (‘On the path to the sky’), starring Ganesh, Rukmini Vasanth, Rangayana Raghu, and Reeshma Nanaiah, tries to fall in the second category, but misses the goal post by a fair margin.
Upcoming cricketer Siddharth (Ganesh doing Ganesh things) and swimmer Leela (Rukmini) meet during a protest to protect trees, and eventually fall in love. Leela wants Sid to convince her father Vasu (Raghu who hits some high notes in his performance, but also goes overboard at times) to let them get married. Vasu has raised Leela all by himself, and they have a shared dream to visit Masai Mara together and see the animals roaming about freely in their natural habitat.
The love story, accompanied by Arjun Janya’s music, feels too rushed, and doesn’t really touch your heart, despite Ganesh partly opening the charm tap and Rukmini really selling Leela. They never seem like a couple, and in a year with many on-screen couples with amazing chemistry, the absence of spark hits especially hard. And so, you don’t really feel the shock when there’s a fatal stumbling block.
The film attempts to make up for all those lapses in the second half where the scene of action shifts to Kenya. The might-have-been father-in-law and son-in-law head to Masai Mara, on what would have been a couple’s honeymoon. Sid and Vasu still can’t stand each other, but there’s the peppy vlogger Kadambari played by Reeshma who becomes the glue that throws them together into sticky situations.
Yes, this is a light story and yes, one must not take things too seriously, but the scenes where the trio get high on weed, or get mugged, might have found better placement in a thriller. Predictably, they get away with it too easily. A tribal child is part of the plot twists, and you shudder to think what might have happened in real life. Can three rank outsiders really outrun the people of the land who are trained to run like gazelles?
On top of the incredulity, one of these scenes also gives the dialogue writer a chance to indulge in some racism: there’s a reference to bidding for ‘African’ cricketers during the Indian Premier League and giving them accommodation in Bengaluru’s Kammanahalli! Kind Sir, Africa is not a single nation, but a continent, and also, painting a continent with the same brush because some folks acted terribly is awful in a film that sets out to celebrate love and acceptance.
The real hero of the film is cinematographer Abhilash Kalathi, who gives you a chance to enjoy Masai Mara at just the cost of a cinema ticket.
The film pays ample tribute to the late Puneeth’s Rajkumar’s favourite song among his renditions, ‘Baana Daariyalli Surya Jaari Hoda’, but that’s not enough to keep you invested.
The story has been developed based on a line by cinematographer Preetha Jayaraman. But Preetham Gubbi, who was one of the writers of Mungaru Male (2006) (a film which set the trend for tragic Kannada romances with great music), fails to make you revel in the highs and feel the lows, as everything seems to move on an even plane.
The film, on paper, is about acceptance, moving on, and living life again. That sounds good enough, but the path to get there is laden with cliches galore.
I was terrified how Rukmini, who is the soul of the recently released Sapta Sagaradaache Ello - Side A, would be handled in a commercial film. But to my relief, she’s treated with some justice.
Ganesh is an ace in this tragic love game by now. I really wish directors would allow him to explore his range a little more, instead of restricting him to what he is famous for – lengthy dialogues about love. Actors need to be nudged out of their comfort zone too! I would have loved to see Sid’s bond with Vasu develop over time. But, the long distance from ‘uncle’ to ‘pa’ is covered in one single sentence. That is the journey this film should have aspired to show on screen.