You are currently viewing 5 reasons to watch Kannada film Kantara at cinemas

5 reasons to watch Kannada film Kantara at cinemas

Kantara:- Produced by Hombale Films, the production house best known for the KGF franchise, Kantara, starring Rishabh Shetty, Kishore and Achyuth Kumar, is a supernatural action thriller.  Written and directed by Rishabh Shetty, the movie pits the greed of man against nature in coastal Karnataka.

Kantara could have ended up as another addition to the long list of action thrillers from the South, but what sets it apart is the weaving of mythology into the storyline and exploring the fault lines within society arising out of caste hierarchies.

 Rishabh Shetty in Kantara.

An intriguing backstory 

The story began in 1847 when the king of a village in coastal Karnataka donated a huge parcel of land to villagers in exchange of an idol of the local deity, Panjuri, for lasting happiness and peace. During the exchange, however, he was warned by the spirits of the forest that if the king ever asked for this land back, the gods would not forgive him. 

Cut to 1970, a descendant of the king wants to take the land back. During an annual ritual of Bhoot Kola(a local worship), the descendant meets a local dancer possessed by the deity and asks him for the land. Angered by his insolence, the deity who entered the dancer’s body disappears into the forest. After a few days, the descendant dies mysteriously.

Past meets present in the plot 

It’s 1990 and another descendant of the king, the local landlord Devendra Suttur (played by Achyuth Kumar), has his eyes on that land. As the keeper of the village, Shiva (played by Rishabh Shetty), the winner of the buffalo-running game Kambala, has the task of saving the land. For it was his father who had disappeared in the forest as a deity. His mother is worried that Shiva will meet his father’s fate. 

A new forest officer, Muralidhar (played by Kishore), enters the scene who wants to curb felling of trees in the region. This makes him unpopular among the villagers. Shiva’s girlfriend, Leela (played by Saptami Gowda), is a forest guard and is part of Muralidhar’s team. 

Blend of dance and action

Kantara scores with its action sequences, starting with an exhilarating Kambala race. Rishabh shines in the slow-mo bull race sequence. Blending classical dance forms with blood-spilling action, stunt choreographer Vikram More also helps build the climax, keeping one on the edge of the seat. Arvind Kashyap’s cinematography effectively captures it all.  

A lot of screen time is devoted to the performance of the Bhoot Kola, an annual ritual worship of the deity. The background score by Ajaneesh Loknath heightens the myths and legends of the land.

Caste politics

The film explores the deep-rooted caste hegemony in southern Karnataka. The upper caste landlord Devendra appropriates the land of unsuspecting tribals, depriving them of their rights. He does not allow locals to set foot in his home. When Shiva breaches that rule, Devendra purifies his residence. Kantara also tries to make the point that tribal traditions need to thrive and prosper.

 The performances

Rishabh Shetty as Shiva puts in a memorable performance as the man who would go to any lengths to protect his village. He is a maverick, who would rather spend his time lazing around with friends, indulging in gluttony. But if someone dares raise a finger at his folks, there is no stopping his ruthless rage. 

Kishore as Muralidhar, on the other end of the spectrum, is an upright government officer, committed to his duty. Kishore plays this part with poise. Achyuth Kumar as the casteist and greedy landlord is cunning and manipulative. 

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