New Delhi, 23 May 2019 9:00 IST
This children’s film is what you would call a slow burner, with the director not getting to the crux of the tale until well into the second half.
K Shivarudraiah is an award-winning Kannada filmmaker and avid photographer. In his latest film, Ramana Savari, the cinematography is its strongest point. At 101 minutes, this children’s film is what you would call a slow burner. It isn’t until well into the second half that the director gets to the crux of the story.
It is a well-intentioned film with poor execution. A large portion of the film is laced with unnecessary buildup — including two song-and-dance sequences that act merely as fillers — for a climax that is ultimately simplistic, conventional and like any other movie of its kind.
The film is based on the story Ramana Savari Santhege Hodaddu, written by K Sadashiva. It’s a simple plot. The story of a child, Rama, who is affected by his parents' separation.
Rama was separated from his father when he was just three years old. He and his best friend Appu spend most of the first half frolicking around the landscape — the film is set in Teerthahalli, Shivamogga and Sagara — and bonding over mouth organs, bioscopes and pelicans. It’s charming to see two enthusiastic children have all the fun they can, though the main character is undone by some overacting.
The film shows the simplicity of life back in the day. A life devoid of technology. There are mountains and greenery, not malls and mobile phones. Despite it looking like a low-budget film — where the colours fail to pop out — it is hard not to fall in love with the trees, birds, rivers and more. By using nature as a backdrop for this film, Shivarudraiah has made sure the viewers are well embedded in this world.
The film has all the ingredients it needs to be successful. Separated parents, a stubborn and overbearing sister-in-law, a child and his best friend, and parents who are happy to have their daughter and grandson living with them at home. It also speaks to many important issues plaguing our society. Like the importance of a balanced family for the betterment of a child’s upbringing.
On paper, this would make for a compelling film. The viewer, though, is taken for a ride, not necessarily one they want to be on. In the entire first half of the movie, there is one scene — not too long either — that sheds light on the actual issue at the core of the film. If you had not read the plot of the film beforehand, it wouldn’t be wrong if you thought this movie was going down a completely different path.
It is in the second half, where Rama interacts with his father at the rural fair, when the plot picks up. From then on, it’s a quickened pace, until the end of the film. The end is nothing out of the ordinary for the seasoned viewer. It is sort of abrupt. One would have liked a more nuanced ending, but what we get is something that is merely black and white.
The sister-in-law is the most underdeveloped character of the lot. With that, the film loses an arc that it could have really explored had it tried to think out of the box. She gets one major scene in the movie, and in that, too, she is mostly just dismissed as an extra. The other characters talk about her, but the director never fully explains to the audience what she has done.
Notwithstanding its heavy theme, Ramana Savari is a decently good watch, for a lazy day at home. It’s not a movie that makes you think, but a film that makes you feel for its main lead.
Related topicsHabitat Film Festival
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