Film: KGF, Chapter 1(dubbed in Hindi); Cast: Yash, Srinidhi Shetty; Director: Prashanth Neel; Rating: *(1 star)
“If you bad, I am your dad.” I swear I heard the messianic hero mouth this line in this messy violent exploitative film about class exploitation.
It was in a club scene right after Mouni Roy finished shaking her stuff into the camera when another fight (there are so many of them I lost count after the 9th one) broke out and the film’s heroine, rich and haughty and waiting to be tamed by the peasant-class hero, dares Rocky (Kannada superstar Yash) to touch her.
Does he touch or not? We shall leave the touchy issue aside to tackle the more imminent problematic and contentious issue: why pretend to make film about the decades-old exploitation of labour in the Kolar gold mine fields when all this films purports to do is merely glorify the popular Kannada’s hero’s hero-giri?
Yash, who enters the overwrought and rotten plot a little after the show begins, occupies every frame with feudal ownership. The culprits are not so much the assorted villains (all avaricious landgrabbers who want all the gold in Kolar). The main villain is the abominable dubbing and editing.
In one sequence Yash tells the fuming heroine, “I was just thinking of you in the bathroom, and…”
The hindi dialogues are so cheesy I wondered if the film is actually a spoof on all the action-darma potboilers of the 1970s and 80s where the mother-loving outcast hero grows up hating the world and desirous of getting even with the capitalist swines.
Hell, the baddies in ‘KGF’ are so swinish in their demeanour you wonder how so much evil could aggregate in one place all at the same time. They don’t leer at women, though. They just want money and why not? Even Rocky our super-hero’s mother urges her son to become super-rich (as though it were an option on a form) to be respected .
Going by the world that this film inhabits, the respect is not worth earning. Anarchic and obnoxious the screenplay celebrates juvenile violence when Rocky as a child is seen killing a policeman in broad daylight. You wonder if the censor board was looking the other way.
Not that the editing, which seems to have done with a butcher’s knife, gives any room for thought let alone rumination. The director thinks pushing every scene into a froth of frenzy and pulling out before the characters make sense, is a sign of evolved storytelling. The narrative is so enamoured of its hecticity it gladly disposes with every modicum of continuity and logic.
By the time we approach the second-half “KGF” resembles a rollercoaster on a drunken swing. Post the badly-needed midpoint breather (suggestion: get out of the mess while you still can) has our hero joins the slave population in the mine fields while hideous looking minions of the capitalists wield the whip as their evil laughter resonates in dolby with the relish of a raucous video game invented for troubled teenagers who need to vent surplus energy .
Realizing how jumbled and jerky the storytelling looks, the director introduces Anant Nag as the narrator who leads us through the chaotic plot trying to cement the lose ends.It is like negotiating explosives in a minefield wearing spiked shoes.
In its unhealthy weakness for bullying and bloodshed “KGF” has a serious Ram Gopal Varma hangover. Almost every character wears a thick beard and an unwashed look. Whether they are on the right or wrong side is immaterial. Our hero Yash straightens out the curves in the moral arc. When it comes to blind idolization it doesn’t matter which side you are on.