My knowledge of Kannada movies was strictly limited to the single source of entertainment channel in the mid-nineties. I used to wait for the Saturday evening show (later moved to Sunday evening) eagerly, hoping I could see Annavaru Dr. Rajkumar, "rebel star" Ambareesh, "Kottigobba" Vishnuvardhan, or the Nag brothers in action. Movies were plain and simple, and it always ended in a feel good factor. I was never into watching Kannada movies in cinema halls. But as the years went by, as different channels came into existence, I could not keep up with the pace of Kannada movies; not that it was way ahead, but sadly, it had fallen way behind the standards set by its regional peers. So, I moved away from the solitary source to keep track of other things, but I still made it a point to watch the movies played on DD9, the regional equivalent of DD1, as and when I caught the Kannada movie watching mindset.
Though I am not a big fan of Upendra, he brought some entertainment value to the industry. His movies were supposedly different from the conventional mainstream Kannada cinema. Now, now, that doesn't mean that Upendra was involved in art movies; he was an out and out commercial movie maker. He found an audience cutting across all age barriers that made my friends actually talk about watching his films in the hall. That was a big thing. For some reason, watching Kannada movies in the theater was an embarrassment to many; many did not want to admit that they watched one in the theater. That was not surprising considering the fact that the number of movies that could be watched with family declined considerably with time. Unfortunately, you really had to think more than twice before you spent money on a Kannada movie. Let alone watching in the halls, some of my friends did not appreciate my watching the DD9 movies too, ridiculing me to switch to other channels. The advent of Sudeep, Ramesh Arvind and a few others spiced up the industry. There was a much needed revival of the filmdom to bring back the audience. We had to look beyond the golden era of the seventies and eighties and walk out of the shadow of some of Kannada industry's greatest stalwarts to recreate the magic of the yesteryears.
The Nag brothers - Shankar Nag and Anant Nag were a revelation on the celluloid. I have had immense pleasure watching the complete series of SP Sangliana, a cop, played to perfection by the immensely talented Shankar Nag. His potential is very much evident as he took up the directorial venture of Malgudi Days, and got rave reviews for his efforts. It was a path breaking venture, and the simple episodes were way ahead of its time, as Malgudi was captured in the simple town of Agumbe to perfection. His untimely death was a big loss to the film industry, for he could have easily gone places with his acting and direction. Anant Nag had tremendous acting abilities, just like his brother, and was one, who could leave you mesmerized with his on-screen persona. His movies - Beladingala Bale, Aruna Raaga, Gowri Ganesha and Ganeshana Madhuve are movies that can be talked for a lifetime.
After meandering along, and actually now coming to the point, the Mungaru Male bug hit us big time. Everyone was talking about the movie. Friends, who I could not dream of them watching Kannada movies, told me that it was good. Released last year, the movie was running to packed houses in sophisticated cinema halls. That was something unheard of in Kannada filmdom in recent years. Everyone whom I met, and of course, those who knew Kannada, suggested me to watch the movie. I had listened to the songs, and to say the least, they are exceptional. They left me spellbound, as my player played all the songs on a repeat basis, and more importantly, often. I desperately wanted to see this movie, either online or by procuring a DVD. Kannada DVDs are not really popular in the US, and so I had to settle for an online print. The online print was not of great quality, and so I wanted to wait, till I had the best print. Luckily, here in Boston, thanks to a sizable Kannada population, but nowhere comparable to the Telugu population, the movie was screened sometime in October. Since my fellow Kannada mate was not in Boston at that time, I gave the movie a pass and hoped to view the screening later. Luckily for me, there was a screening of the movie last week, and we (read Chetan and I) couldn't be less excited. The last time I had seen a Kannada movie in the theater felt prehistoric. The theater in Boston resembled a mini Bangalore with everyone conversing in Kannada. It was a nice way to enter the theater with a feeling Wow, so many people speaking in Kannada!
The movie was just too good. The way the screenplay and other nuances of the movie were handled was totally commendable. We had great expectations from the movie, as the word of mouth factor played a big role in its popularity, and honestly, we were not at all disappointed. The movie was certainly not out of the world, as it was handling the good old cliched subject of Indian cinema, but the way the storyline was treated really impressed us. We were struck by the picturesque locations used for filming the movie. The locales were breathtaking. The ending of the movie was what actually impressed us the most. It was absolutely realistic, with no jarry melodrama. It was plain and simple, and it really hit the mark with us. We walked away with a very good feeling - What an ending and what a movie!!!
Just like anything else, I love to bother people after a movie. I quizzed Chetan, "OK, what would you do if you feel you have met the girl of your life just a week before your marriage? Would you stall the marriage and marry the newly met girl?" I knew it was a tough question for him, but obviously, family takes precedence in life, and his answer was obviously not surprising. He asked me "What would you do?" It was not all that difficult for me "Where is that elusive first girl in my life?" Both of us laughed our way back.
As I went home and called up my Kannada speaking friends, it was not surprising that most of them had seen it, since they were the ones who recommended the movie in the first place, one of them asked me "So, what sort of a girl do you want?" I remarked "Being conservative, would obviously expect a conservative girl in my life." "Guys are never conservative; it is the girls who decide how conservative guys can be!" A thought provoking statement indeed, and I did not tax my brain as to find out whether I have to agree to that or not. At the end of the day, I was still basking in the glory of having watched a good Kannada movie in the cinema hall after ages.