And Thus Spake Upendra…
After like what seems to be an eternity, I went to watch a Kannada movie in a theatre. Paid 125 bucks and went to see the UPENDRA starrer Budhivantha!!! Some people called me insane. Some were plain shocked. Some gave advice which amounted to the movie being disgusting. When enquired further, none of them had watched the movie in the first place and were yet commenting confidently! I guess that’s got to do mainly with what many consider highly irritating, rhythmic and annoying song which is widely related with the word “Chitranna”! And maybe also because it involves Upendra. But either way, in spite of all their well intended advice, I ended up going to the movie, largely due to the fact that it involved Upendra and that he had written his dialogues himself!
Now the theme of the movie was known to me before I went into the theatre. Upendra would be accused of cheating 5 women and the entire movie is essentially a court room drama with intermittent flashbacks. The movie has a good storyline to hang on till the end. But what disrupts the story every now and then are the innumerable songs-essentially one for each girl he dupes and then one for his own introduction. The acting of most of the actors seemed quite natural with the female section actually exhibiting some good acting skills. All females are pretty glam throughout, what with the necessarily higher than knee dress size limit and the really well picturized song sequences. The director has really portrayed his expertise in this field by indulging in the glamorous while not crossing the line to the erotic.
But perhaps the high point of the movie is in the dialogues with Upendra clearly stealing the show with his impeccable Dakshin Kannada accent during the entire trial as he cleverly rebuffs each of the 5 women. But personally, the highlight of the entire movie was clearly the blatant mockery of Telugu Cinema making! I wouldn’t mind paying 125 bucks again just to watch that sequence of action- Telugu style-complete with white shirts and dhotis, bombs arbitrarily going off in the background and the intense rivalry between two jewellery-claden Gult millionaires! Anyone will die laughing when watching the mockery-with the ending of the scene providing the icing on the cake! I wont spoil it for you-but go watch it yourself.(Oh BTW, there is a direct flick of the Kill Bill soundtrack when Upendra gets into a fight in the jail-it is the siren like piece of music)
Upendra’s character has definitely lived up to his true acting skills and on the whole I loved the movie-even if it meant I had to sit through a never ending list of songs including CHITRANNA! Perhaps the only let down of the movie lay in the dialogue synchronization or the lack of it. Sometimes it would get real irritating with the lips saying something and something else being heard. But it was obvious from the beginning that Kannada cinema making still has a long way to go before it reaches maturity in terms of direction and screenplay. Cliched dialogues, predictable outcomes of sequences will have to go for newer styles of film making. Upendra was definitely one person who lived up to the change that Kannada Film Industry needed in all his directorial ventures.
Needless to say, the movies UPENDRA and A, directed and starred by Upendra himself, are very easily the best kannada movie I have ever seen! The different themes and styles of dialogue delivery have in fact given them cult status! Perhaps, the still in UPENDRA which proclaims that the Editing, Screenplay, Music, Lyrics, Dialogue, Choreography, Production and Direction were all credited to Upendra is definitely testimonial to his immense and diverse talent. If you do not know kannada, then I strongly recommend you learn this language just to be able to watch and understand the movie. (Oh BTW, translations or subtitles don’t work here!) Even his other movies- Operation Antha, Shhh!, OM are all well made movies and can be watch any number of times! But it has been quite some time since he has gone on a directorial venture. And so when I watched him on a Kannada TV channel answering the question that has been on every Upendra fan’s mind-that is when is he going to direct a movie next?- he gave a reply that is worthy of a true professional. I cant quote exactly but this is what he effectively said:
“I am not going to hurry in any way. I am not going to venture into anything until I know exactly what I am doing completely. I need to know each and every aspect of a movie completely before I can start directing. When I give something to the people, I want it to be really good. This takes time and I don’t know when it is going to happen myself. Hopefully it will be sooner than later…”
If it was a wasted director like Karan Johar or Yash Chopra, the reply would have been something like -“It is already underway…and then I am starting one more. Then there is one more. So you will have 3 by this year itself. I am sure one of them will definitly be a hit!”
But Upendra definitely knows better. He will never venture into a directorial role just to dole out another movie. (I have to say this reminds me of Tarantino!) I would rather wait for years together to watch a film like Upendra or A instead of getting to watch wasted movies like Rab ne bana Di whatever or any of the other similar movies with SRK playing out the chewed cud character.
So, as a strong Upendra follower, I will wait patiently till Upendra comes out with another movie as good as UPENDRA!!