Simha Rasi (Tamil)
Simha rasi, with Sharath Kumar, Khushboo, Kanaka, Manorama and Vineeth is an interesting film. It is visually pleasing, with both Khushboo and Sharath Kumar looking good and seeming to be the characters they play. Khushboo’s acting is limited to nodding her head either with her lips turned down to show sadness, disapproval and anger, or turned up in happiness. But Khushboo’s smile is like a character in own right, it does a lot of acting! Sharath Kumar is not required to do much acting, but is perfect in the role of the dumb, brawny (and heart is brown too, remember!) patriarch given to grand responses.
Added to all this is his aura of the ‘Superman (Remember Karunanidhi publicly called him that) so many of the scenes lauding these grand qualities take on added significance, as does the rikshaw pulling scene (a la MGR’s Rikshakaran). Manorama’s done this role so often, she just has to be there and we know the rest. The rest of the cast is routine stiff. A film like Simha rasi is actually more complex than we may admit. The story may be nothing original the upright patriarch with the chaste, silent wife, the wayward son and the voluble matriarch is brought down by the efforts of the villain. The son leaves the fold, but finally returns to take the place of his father, who dies. Woven into this story are smaller stories, but all celebrating honour and goodness., What is of interest is that they depict a different order of living, a totally different scale of emotions and responses. The life of such rural communities as shown in films like Simha rasi and Thevar magan, have a grandness, an intricate weaving of contextual and hereditary responses which are in total contrast to the often flat, single-dimensional responses of modern urban life. It is this which gives the stereotypes (in Simha rasi) — the chaste wife, the patriarch etc, an undeviable nuancing.
Take the concept of duty, for instance, when Sharath Kumar chooses duty (to the woman who helped and guided him) over love, it is difficult to disapprove, whereas, in a film like Fire, when Shabana chooses to forget duty, we approve and agree with her that “duty is an overrated concept”. But in a film like Simha rasi, duty, or obedience, or charity are not overrated, perhaps because of the quality of connectedness — relationships within the family are reflected in the relationships between families, and in the community at large. Feminists may sneer at the head-nodding wife, but she’s happy being that, and one can’t deny that her husband looks to her for approval at every turn. Perhaps it is a mistake to measure such films only with the yardsticks of our own harried lives. The plight of the younger generation, whose sensibility is displaced when it comes in contact with the homogenising effects of urban education, is something else that is interesting in Simha rasi and its likes, Simha rasi deserves a response because its themes, its emotions, its sounds and colours are grander than those we are accustomed to.
Karnataka Police (kannada)
PUTTANA (morning show)
What should have been a tribute to the Karnataka Police force turns out to be neither a tribute nor does it create any impact on the audience. Film-makers do not seem to be tired of trying out the same old formula.
In the beginning, one does get the impression that a Hindi film is being screened. A dreaded terrorist targets a Union minister from Karnataka for his next attack. The terrorist succeeds in bumping off the minister. Enter Hemanth (Devaraj) and Prashanth (Bhanuchander), two police officers, who are put on special duty to thwart the designs of this dreaded terrorist (Avinash). He wreaks havoc. These police officers meanwhile post two of their trusted lieutenants to the enemy camp (read terrorist camp). So what’s new? While one gets killed the other cracks the secret of the camp. There are others in the police department to help him out. Devaraj fails to impress, as does Bhanuchander. The talented Devaraj should refuse such inane and routine roles. It is Avinash alone who does some justice to his small role. On the whole, the film is a poor rehash!
Yamatokadalli Veerappan (Kannada)
This film would definitely put critics in a spot, and leave them wondering whether to laugh or cry over the quality of such Kannada films churned out by Gandhinagar. After the success of Hallo Yama, our film-makers seem to have reached Yamaloka, going by the quality of films they are churning out. They seem to be cashing in on the favourite craze called Veerappan to add to the Yamaloka’s developments. The God of death, Yama (Dhirendra Gopal), is as usual conducting his trials for death victims and candidates with the help of Chitragupta (Viji), his trusted aide. When Yama comes to know that Veerappan (Satyaprakash) is primarily responsible for a spate of deaths, especially of policemen, he expresses his helplessness to find adequate space to accommodate all the dead. Chitragupta comes up with an idea of bringing Veerappan to Yamaloka.
Yama tries his best to pull Veerappan to his loka (world), but finds it difficult, because of Veerappan’s rustic ways. Meanwhile, Veerappan spells out a number of conditions to the government regarding his surrender. As Yama pulls Veerappan into his world, Veerappan starts acting dirty with Yama by flirting with apsaras (Akhila being one among them). Yama is envious of Veerappan’s behaviour. What follows is a series of song and dance sequences with heavenly damsels. Disgusted with Veerappan’s behaviour, Yama seeks Veerappan’s re-entry into bhooloka (earth). Dhirendra Gopal is okay. Satyaprakash as Veerappan also does some justice to his role.
Mee Aayana Jagraththa (Telugu)
When witty wags turn ‘baddies’ on screen, it scales heights of hilarity. And Brahmanandam is quite good at that. After having entertained the moviegoers as Khan dada in Money and Kathi Ramdas in Pattukondichudam, he is back as Gabbar Singh’s grandson, Rubber Singh, in this whacky comedy. Donning fluorescent overcoats and spotting a cowboy hat, he plays a cranky mafia don who falls in love with the town’s floosie. Though the storyline is wafer thin, the situational comedy is put together patchily. The scatterbrain Gopikrishna (Rajendra Prasad) comes to town to attend an interview and is straightaway selected for the post of husband-cum-managing director. He marries Sundari (Roja), the daughter of the fatheaded factory owner, but when she spurns him, he begins to dream about Raksha (Raksha), a plump nymphet who drives men crazy with her bohemian ways and scanty outfits. One day, Sundari happens to come upon Gopi and Raksha together. Scared of losing his job, he introduces Raksha as his friend Bosu’s (Shivaji Raja) wife. But Bosu, who is married to Latasri, introduces Raksha as Gopi’s wife.
The rest of the film keeps you in splits. Adding to the confusion, is Raksha’s boyfriend, the Oxford University graduate, Rubber Singh. Playing a comic villain, Brahmanandam fails to carry his role through, for it has not been properly chiselled. Though M S Narayana is at his maddest best as a tippler, it is high time he breaks that stereotype. Roja’s acting is charinless and limp.
While Muthyala Ramdas makes his debut as director, senior artiste Vallabhaneni Janardhan has written the story and screenplay. The musical score by newcomer Vinayak is just average. Double-edged dialogues by Marudhuri Raja succeed in adding new synonyms to the dictionary of risque words.
In the razzle-dazzle showbiz, where so many upcoming actors strive hard to carve a niche for themselves, having a godfather who monitors their film graph is indeed an added blessing. But Srikanth belongs to that group of stars which has remained in the race for stardom by winning over the audience with endearing performances.
In Shubalekhalu, he plays a cine-actor who is caught between a die-hard female fan and his mentor cum producer’s daughter. The movie seems to be a pastiche of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and the Venkatesh starrer Premante Idhera.
The story goes thus, Manasa (Laila), a great fan of Sri (Srikanth), never misses any of his releases, even during exams. Actress Priya (Roshni) who loves Sri, wants to marry him. She is the, daughter of the film producer, Bapineedu, the man who has promoted Sri’s film career. But Sri, who is enamoured by the warm-hearted Manasa wants to marry her. Bapineedu can’t stand the plight of his heartbroken daughter, so he vows to take revenge.
When Manasa’s father, Harishchandra Prasad, a man who is prejudiced against film stars comes to meet Sri, Bapineedu traps him by babbling out a story. Harishchandra Prasad, who is more wining to accept a beggar as his son-in-law, than a person of loose morals, declines to give his daughter’s hand to Sri, mistaking him to be a Casanova. Instead, he makes Manasa get engaged to his childhood friend’s son, Balaram. Meanwhile Sri and his assistant come to the village in the guise of musicians and rent a house opposite to Harishchandra Prasad’s house. How Sri manages to win his girl over forms the rest of the story.
The cast includes Satyanarayana, Kota Srinivas Rao, Srihari, Brahmanandam, Sudhakar, Babu Mohan, AVS, Annapurna, Ramaprabha, Radha Bai, Chalapathi Rao. Ranganath and Nandamuri Harikrishna make guest appearances.
Though the pace is a bit slow, a tightly-edited screenplay by director Muppalaneni Siva keeps it lively. Sudhakar, as a music director craving for a break, AVS as a man full of doubts and Babu Mohan as a dithering idiot, provide many laughs. Songs picturised against the scenic locales of Kulu-Manali provide a visual treat. The Ramakrishna Horticultural Cine Studios, which has given the industry many hits, have dedicated this film to the NTR couple. On the whole a good family entertainer.