Rating: 3/4 (Manasaare is an intelligent and entertaining existentialist experiment from the minds of Yograj Bhat and Pawan Kumar.)
From the imaginative duo of writer Pawan Kumar and director Yograj Bhat comes the 2009 movie Manasaare (ಮನಸಾರೆ). In the movie, Manohar (Diganth) is an orphan who sees society as full of puppets living their life according to others’ expectations. People start calling him harebrained when he starts to speak his mind. Ironically for him, he is mistaken for a mentally unsound murderer and taken to a mental health institution named Kaamanabillu (Rainbow). His pleas that he is not insane are ignored and he makes several failed attempts to escape. He meets Devika (Aindrita Ray), a female patient and it is love at first sight. Devika is at the hospital due to repressed hatred of men caused by childhood atrocities by her father. Manohar tries to win her heart and escape from the institution with her.
Manasaare has such cool surreal and heretical moments that it is a wonder how it got funded and made into a commercial movie. Manasaare and Pancharangi clearly fall into the same basket, with Manasaare going much deeper into the introspection of who we are and how we live. Not surprisingly, the protagonist Manohar finds his worldview at home in a mental institution, rather than out in the real world where people find truth discomfiting. His roommates Raju Talikote and Dollar provide the perfect Yin for Manohar’s Yang. Talikote is mentally sound, but finds comfort living amongst people whose insanity have cures instead of living in a society whose insanity has no cure. Diganth and Raju Talikote have acted excellently. Pawan Kumar who plays the comically deranged Dollar is also the writer of the movie. (His experience of writing and creating Manasaare can be read here.) Aindrita Ray is a doll and her role requires very little talking. Mano Murthy has created some lilting tunes which benefit from some of the best lyrics writing by Jayant Kaikini. My favorites are the songs Ello Maleyaagideyindu (It has rained somewhere today) and Naa Naguva Modalene.
In the climax, Manohar returns back to society and is pushed to insanity when people mock him and label him insane. His mental dilemma is resolved in a well shot intelligent ending, one of the coolest I have seen in a long time. Manasaare sports an original story, but does have strong shades of Upendra’s A and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Thankfully, it is never takes itself too seriously, resulting in an entertaining romantic comedy. This is an intelligent experiment by Yograj Bhat and Pawan Kumar that should be watched.