ROYAL FILMS’ lengthy offering, “Drona” is a typical formula film with no pretensions to any refinement. From its lyrics to its stunts and its cliched story and characterisation, “Drona” unequivocally proclaims its commercial thrust. It is as much a Jaggesh film, with its expected populist dialogues and one-liners, which is what makes the film palatable, despite its rambling.
Whichever the Jaggesh film one talks of (as hero), it is more his irrepressible sense of comedy, well-timed dialogue delivery and his funny mannerisms that have invariably carried the film through, than any uncommon story or treatment. And “Drona” is no different. Despite Sham’s average editing and director H. Vasu’s meandering, “Drona” is watchable precisely for this reason — Jaggesh’s presence.
Expectedly, Drona is the hero’s name, and he is lionised by the people of Swatantrapalya, a slum which nurtured him as an young orphan. It is amid this poverty that Drona finds bountiful affection, and is educated by the slum-dwellers. Basking in the warmth of their love, Drona somehow wants to repay this debt; jobless, he starts living by his wits — he cons the rich to help his slum people, till one day he is appointed sub-inspector of police. With authority in his hands, he takes on a powerful liquor baron and eliminates an entire gang of anti-socials with a missionary zeal.
In between all this, romance blooms with the heroine, Monica Bedi (of Mumbai). Songs and dances follow suit. What stands out is that the film is peppered with humour — all brought on by Jaggesh.
One striking departure in “Drona” is the lack of double entrendres in the dialogues, unlike in many of Jaggesh’s earlier films. Nor is there any vulgarity visually, although “Drona” is flashy in costuming and lacks in overall sophistication.
Jaggesh is at home with his heroics. Monica Bedi, in her first Kannada film, fits the bill. Reshma as Radha, the slum girl who sacrifices her love for Drona, has little to do, “Drona” being Jaggesh’s film all the way.
J. M. Prahalad’s dialogue, with its homilies, appear jaded, the viewer having heard it in film after film. Hamsalekha’s songs are breezy, the prosaic lyrics having their own popular appeal. Raghuram takes credit for the dance picturisation. K. D. Venkatesh’s fights are commonplace. J. G. Krishna has wielded the camera.
IN THE flux that Kannada cinema is in today, with a few meaningful ventures juxtaposed against crass commercials and remakes, director Rajendra Babu’s multi-starrer, “Habba” comes as a landmark film for more than one reason. It is for the first time in more than two decades that some of the top stars of the Kannada film industry such as Vishnuvardhan, Ambarish, Devaraj and Shashi Kumar, besides Jayaprada, have come together in a film, offering in the process, a delightfully light-hearted yet endearing movie, which has top-notch, toe- tapping music by Hamsalekha and a gaily-knit story by Baaravi, topped off by superior cinematography by P. K. S. Das.
‘Habba” or festival as it means, certainly offers that to its viewers — a sense of gaiety and a festive air pervades the film, a rich vibrancy of colours enhancing its visual appeal.
What is remarkable about “Habba” is its lack of high-strung drama despite a family-oriented subject and still making for impactful communication.
It has its moments of pain, tears, suspense and subterfuge, with the predominant thrust on humour, but it is all blended so smoothly that the end product is wholesome entertainment.
“Habba” centres around a family of closelyknit “Pancha Pandavas”, led by Vishnu (Vishnuvardhan), the soft-spoken and amiable eldest brother. Ambi (Ambarish), Devaraj (Devaraj), Shashi (Shashi Kumar) and Ramu (Ram Kumar) make for the other four siblings, each with his distinctive characteristics and idiosyncrasies, which are laugh-worthy in themselves.
The three elder brothers with their spouses — Jayaprada, Urvashi and Kasturi — with two kids each, make up the family scene, while the two younger brothers are bachelors waiting to enter matrimony. They are one large, happy, joint family where skirmishes are unknown and where love smoothens out everything. Into this fun-filled, ideal atmosphere blows a storm which threatens to ravage the family physically and emotionally — Ramu, the youngest brother falls in love with Seetha at Shashi’s wedding. But their love cannot fructify in marriage for a fearsome reason.
How Ramu’s family rallies around him and tries to make the impossible happen is what most of the film revolves around.
Difficult as it is to rope in several stars for a film, director Rajendra Babu has also succeeded in giving all of them equal importance, capitalising on the strengths of the individual artistes.
Hence, there is little room for complaint against the five strongmen.
Yet it is Vishnuvardhan who ranks above others for his subtle display of emotions. Ambarish, Devaraj and Shashi Kumar have given a creditable account of themselves, and so does young Ram Kumar. Jayaprada is expected to be a smiling mannequin, and she is a very pretty one at that. Uravashi and Kasturi are more than adequate.
Leelavathi contributes her mite to the mirth, so do her four brawny grandsons, Nag Babu, Ray, Ghazal Khan and Ray Babu. Vijayalakshmi, as their sister and Ramu’s ladylove, is competent. Charulata as Shashi’s wife, makes only a brief appearance.
Rajendra Babu’s screenplay moves smoothly, aided by Shashi Kumar’s neat editing. Horse Babu’s fights add to the humour. Raghuram’s dance direction goes well with the family theme. Gandasi Nagaraj’s costuming is not only colourful but also apt. B. A. Madhu’s dialogues are crisp.
Hamsalekha’s background score is in tune with the mood of the film. The songs, whose picturisation is a riot of colours, are peppy. Overall, “Habba” is a sleek production worth watching.