Director: Prashant Neel
Cast: Yash, Shrinidhi Shetty, Anant Nag, Malavika Avinash,
Composer: Ravi Basrur, Tanishk Bagchi
KGF Chapter 1 begins in media res. Or perhaps, there really is no beginning, just a lot of media res-es. And a lot of bright red – be it blood, or the lights at a recreation of an 80s bar. Or blood. And exploding bombs, blood, period decor, the shirts of background dancers who are supposedly workers at the Bombay port, blood, more period decor, and more blood.
Then there’s Yash. Who plays Rocky Bhai, who wants to live up to the promise he made to a dying mother. His mother says you may have been born in poverty, but you die rich. And so Rocky looks for ways to become rich: kill, maim, and punch his way up the underworld of Bombay.
And then there’s a lot of back and forth and shuffling of chronology, more exploding bombs and spluttering blood, and a harsh, dusty dry landscape with gun-toting evil men. These visuals look like they were borrowed from 12 Years a Slave and Paradesi, but after spending a few days with the Mad Max franchise. But the hero – who is also the liberator of man – comes from the Baahubali school. All biceps and shoulders, and effortless pulling of heavy objects.
KGF is written and directed by Prashant Neel, and produced by Vijay Kiragandur/Hombale Films. A Kannada/Hindi film, it was dubbed and released simultaneously in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam among other languages. The Tamil version was produced and released by Vishal Krishna. It stars Yash, Shrinidhi Shetty, Anant Nag, Malavika Avinash, and others, with a special appearance by Tamannaah.
There’s an attempt at non-linear storytelling in KGF. A narrator – Anant Nag as a writer whose book on KGF has been banned by the government – tells the birth and rise of Rocky Bhai to a cynical, but willing to be convinced news editor of a private television channel.
But this non-linearity comes at the expense of actually telling us what is going on and why we must care.
There’s way too much speechifying of Rocky’s ability to punch a hole through a human skeleton, skin and brain and organs intact. After the fourth such gushing fan-boy talk, it gets boring. Yes, we know. He’s strong. Now what?
There’s also a very half-hearted attempt at building a strong woman heroine character. Shrinidhi Shetty as Reena Desai. A spoilt brat daughter of a rich man, who in true Tamil/South Indian/Indian film tradition of rich girls, depends on her father’s henchmen to beat up any man who might try talking to her. Failing which she will try to buy him off. Failing which she will give him a “super human” challenge and offer her love if he succeeds. At which point you know – because Tamil cinema has coached you to a great level – she will cave and become his lover. This stage may or may not involve songs and dances at exotic location (one such exotic location in the past was Brindavan Gardens) but the spoilt rich girl is now truly her man’s lover and supporter and is going to betray her father to ensure the success of the lover.
We may have to wait for the second chapter of KGF to truly unravel the many plots, subplots, conspiracies and betrayals that have been set up in this first film. Not that they don’t make sense here – we know who is gunning for what, and why. Unless writer Prashant Neel pulls a surprise out of the hat for the next installment.
If he does, can I just ask that they cut down on the tell, and show more?
The KGF: Chapter 1 review is a Silverscreen original article. It was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Silverscreen.in and its writers do not have any commercial relationship with movies that are reviewed on the site.