All of Karnataka waited patiently for Yograj Bhat’s new film with great expectations. The critics were ready to shower heaps of praise; the box-office hungry distributors were ready for another opportunity to get the cash registers ringing madly; the theatres were designing weather proof posters that could survive a year; the audience was ready for another round of applause. The man who delivered Kannada filmdom’s greatest hit, Mungaaru Male, and who has been often labelled as the messiah and saviour of Kannada cinema and Kannada pride, Yograj Bhat, has let everyone down. Gaalipata, to put it simply, is a major disappointment.
It becomes inevitable to make comparisons of this flick with Bhat’s earlier hit, Mungaaru Male (MM). Sometimes things just magically come together in a movie, to create a sense of completeness. In MM, music, dialogue, performance and camera magically fused to create a great movie. In Gaalipata, this simply does not happen. Bhat’s repetition of ideas leads to a deep sense of disappointment. While there are no doubts about Bhat’s talent to write interesting material, there are now serious doubts about his ability to explore new and unchartered territories. In fact, one wishes the hills of Karnataka simply vanish to prevent Bhat from going there again ! The imagery of the hills and rain make Gaalipata look like a MM part II.
In Gaalipata, Director Bhat lets loose all his obsessions once again. An animal character in the form of a wild boar, loosely translated to be an avatar of the hindu god Vishnu; the misty hills; rain and waterfalls. While he holds his characters with brilliant and funny dialogue and his ability to deal with themes of friendships and relationships is immense, he lets his talent wither away with filling the film with many clichés and stereotypes.
Now, coming to the most important part of the movie – actor Ganesh. He simply stands tall and mesmerizes the viewer with his performance. His effortless ease before the camera, his disarming smile, his charm and his powerhouse acting stun the viewer. Like many superstars, he has the ability to rise way above the script and hold a falling film together with his sheer talent. They say actors are not born but are made. Ganesh disproves that theory. He is truly born with an uncanny ability of having mastered the craft of film acting. Every little wink, every little smile and every little gesture is done to perfection. His sense of timing, so crucial to the craft, is impeccable. It is a real pity that he is not seen in a larger National film. Hope he does someday. He truly deserves National exposure.
There is not much to discuss about the other actors. Diganth and Rajesh Krishnan need to take acting lessons before their next outing. Veteran Anant Nag doesfull justice to his part. Of the girls, Neetu and Bhavana are miscast. However, Daisy Bopanna is charming and beautiful and easily the best of the heroines in the film.
On the technical side, even as Bhat’s movie falters, cinematographer Ratnavelu ensures the film is a visual delight all the way especially when the story moves to the hills. Wonderful misty frames, well choreographed camera movements and soft lighting ensure that apart from Ganesh, Ratnavelu holds his head high in Gaalipata. However, music director Harikrishna is a big let down. There are none of those eternally hummable tunes Bhat presented in his earlier film. Except for one gem - Minchaagi Neenu Baralu sung beautifully by Sonu Nigam, the other songs simply fall flat.
Director Bhat needs to rest and think afresh. As lovers of Kannada cinema, we cannot let this powerhouse of a talent be wasted way on clichéd, misty-romantic tales. He has the ability to write good movies and endearing characters. He shows he can capture small moments with ease. His sense of humour is wonderful. C’mon Mr Bhat, we waited for your movie with baited breath. You let us down. But we still have faith in you and your talent. We will wait again. Don’t let us down next time.