Cast: Yash, Srinidhi Shetty, Achyuth Kumar, Malavika Avinash
Director: Prashanth Neel
Hindi films may have borrowed liberally from Hollywood and other Indian movies, mostly, from the South, but in the last decade or so, many Bollywood filmmakers have inspired some directors from southern states too. Writer-director Prashant Neel’s KGF, a Kannada film dubbed in four languages, is an action thriller set in the Kolar Gold Fields, and is the first instalment in the two-part series that stars Yash and Srinidhi Shetty in the lead roles. Like me, if you are also wondering why for its Hindi version, producer Farhan Akhtar decided to bankroll the project, there may not be an answer, save, perhaps, its lead Yash, who has good screen presence, and could look for some meaty roles in Hindi too. Other than this obvious possibility, I didn’t find any good enough reason for Akhtar to finance and release the film in theatres.
A period drama begins with a narration that dates back to the 1700-year-old history of the oppressed waging wars against their oppressors, and then quickly moves to the 60s and the 80s, as the first chapter centres around the protagonist who leads a battle against the oppressors. Mounted on an impressive scale, the story is narrated by a journalist (Anant Nag), who sings praises of the valour and greatness of Rocky (Yash) from childhood to adulthood. Rocky’s innocence as a child is suddenly and violently upended by an invasion that just his helpless single mother saw coming as he begins to grow in Mysore. Living in penury, she drills in a dream to get rich in life as she lay in her deathbed. Soon, a nomadic wanderer also tells him that he ought to be powerful too. And, thus, begins another challenging period of existence for the little boy: from being a cobbler on the streets of Mumbai to befriending the urchins to finally taking on the might of a policeman, he does everything that would help him to get dubbe
d as a dreadful survivor in the city of dreams. His transformation may be organic, in that he knocks out all the top gangsters; but what he doesn’t forget is his dream to get rich. And powerful.
When the underworld boss makes an offer to Rocky to go in for more control and supremacy, Rocky cannot ignore it. He leaves for Bengaluru and lands himself in the midst of the mafia at a gold mine, both literally and figuratively. Obviously, he gets all the more charged to possess what he hankers after the most: riches and more power. His lust even becomes more profound as he decides to get to the bottom of other conspiratorial teams and own them all himself. However, Rocky’s goals are clearly meant for his own selfish gains and he doesn’t pretend to have any grand notions of liberating other oppressed men and women.
And that’s where the film loses steam. Becoming more of a revenge and heroic tale of a one-man army against many, KGF has no plots to unveil to sustain interest in the second half, and turns quite flimsy. Rocky’s determination to emerge as a rich person, which becomes his sole mission, is fine, but with so many villains it also should have been more than just a personal objective to set things right. There are scenes that are repetitive and overstretched.
Despite Yash’s skills and impressive personality, KGF disappoints, and does not live up to its expectations. What could have been a racy thriller, is a long overextended narrative with a slow moving pace, and becomes predictable right from the time he is sent to the mines.
The second part of the film is expected to hit the screens soon, and let’s hope it offers us more content for us to chew on.
The action sequences, and all the powerplay introduced in the first half of the film, don’t add up to any grand finale.
A strong character in the lead should have had an equally potent and compelling storyline, but for all those fed on Bollywood masala thrillers, or the great masterful films like Bahubali made in Tamil, Telegu, Kannada and Malayalam, the lack of a plausible and gut-wrenching finale makes KGF rather dull!
The writer is a film critic and has been reviewing films for over 15 years. He also writes on music, art and culture, and other human interest stories.