Paramathma (ಪರಮಾತ್ಮ)

Pawan Kumar, the writer behind many of Yograj Bhat‘s hits, has quit the commercial movie industry to croudsource and make movies that he believes in. A prime example of what might have driven him to do this is Paramathma (ಪರಮಾತ್ಮ). Directed by Bhat for a masala audience, this movie is an abomination. Bhat has been force fed a big budget and a big name star and what he has created is a huge disappointment for anyone who loved his earlier movies.

The movie revolves around the antics of Param (Puneeth Rajkumar). This character fails his exams on purpose, but climbs Mt. Everest, learns martial arts in China and many other directionless achievements before saving a girl and falling in love with her. He pursues her back to her ancestral home in Malnad (where else?) and wins her heart.

The one word that best describes Paramathma is mental. The director and actors must surely have a few screws loose up there to have played a role in this insane piece of work. In Bhat’s movies, the smartass hero walks around spouting philosophical and sarcastic truisms. But, Puneet does not have the charm of Ganesh/Diganth and all of his lines here are equally inane. The viewer is tortured with Guinness Book of Records-like achievements of Param, which have no use in the plot. There is a CGI rendered squirrel in the movie, please don’t ask why, because no one knows. And finally, the girl’s Malnad home can only be called an asylum. All together, this is a disastrous venture into the commercial space by Yograj Bhat. The only saving grace in the entire movie is the song Paravashanadenu, beautifully written by Kaikini.

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Hudugaru (ಹುಡುಗರು)

ಹುಡುಗರು (Hudugaru) is a Kannada masala movie starring Puneeth Rajkumar, released earlier in 2011. Directed by K. Madesh, it is a remake of the Tamil movie Naadodigal. Puneeth, Srinagara Kitty and Yogesh play three close friends leaving carefree but disillusioned lives in the town of Shravanabelagola. Just when their luck seems to turn for the better, Puneeth’s friend shows up at his doorstep asking for his help to elope with his girlfriend. The task is not easy since the lovers are the progeny of a rich industrialist and that of a powerful politician. Putting their lives at risk, the trio kidnap the girlfriend and help the couple to get married in secrecy. In the process, Puneeth loses his grandmother, Kitty his leg and Yogesh his hearing. They are enraged when they learn that their efforts were wasted since the couple decide to separate over marital differences.

Though it seems like a violent movie, there is little of that in Hudugaru. The movie is an unnecessarily long 2.5 hours, though it is thankfully bearable. It is helped by good comedy by all the characters, especially Yogesh. Radhika Pandit and a whole host of actors are introduced, but are completely wasted in their roles. The movie could have been a lot shorter by cutting out these characters and a lot of the petty banter. Shot all over small-town Karnataka, the production quality is nice.  The songs are passable, the one that I like is Neeralli Sanna Ale, whose lilting lyrics are penned (unsurprisingly) by Jayant Kaikini. Hudugaru is an entertaining movie that can be watched once.

Prithvi (ಪೃಥ್ವಿ)

Prithvi (ಪೃಥ್ವಿ), a 2010 Kannada movie, brings together my current favorite on-screen pair: Puneeth Rajkumar and Parvathi Menon. I loved their chemistry in Milana and was eager for more. The illegal mining happening in Bellary district of Karnataka is the topic of this movie. That also explains the title, Prithvi is a Sanskrit word meaning earth.

Prithvi (Puneeth) is a new IAS officer who is posted to Bellary district soon after his marriage to Parvathi. Dust, dryness and disease pervades Bellary. On a visit to the district hospital that is choking with asthma patients, Prithvi discovers that the air and water in the region is completely polluted due to mining. Following that lead, he discovers that the mining companies are operating in the district paying no heed to regulations of any kind. When he tries to control the mining, he discovers how the mining barons control all the politicians right up to the state ministry. With sensationalistic TV channels turned onto him and his wife expecting a baby, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place.

Directed by Jacob Varghese, Prithvi could not have been any more pertinent! The Reddy brothers mining mafia that is raping Bellary and pulling the strings of the BJP government in Karnataka right now is depicted well. As you can expect, one IAS officer cannot end corruption of this scale and thankfully the movie does not offer such a solution. The script is well written, the movie is fast paced and there is not a single boring moment. Puneeth and Parvathi have acted well, Puneeth is really starting to show his chops in non-action roles. The music by Manikanth Kadri is pleasing, the songs Haagella Nee Nodabeda, Hejjegondu and Ninagende Viseshaa are still on my playlist. All in all, Prithvi is an excellent movie that should not be missed.

Milana (ಮಿಲನ)

Rating: 3/4 (An endearing romantic drama.)

Milana (ಮಿಲನ) is a 2007 romantic drama starring Puneeth Rajkumar and Parvathi Menon in her debut role. Akash (Puneeth) marries Anjali (Parvathi) as per his parents’ wishes, but is shocked when she asks for a divorce immediately after. She had married Akash out of parental pressure, but is only interested in finding and living with her now-missing lover Hemanth. Akash takes the situation in his stride, working towards the divorce, which they find out takes a few months to obtain through the Indian legal system. In the meanwhile they have to live together, which is not easy since they are always fighting each other. They mellow down with time and become good friends as Akash helps Anjali find her lover Hemanth and Anjali too discovers that Akash was in love with another gal before his marriage. The climactic moment arrives when their divorce papers are finally ready and they need to sign off on their legal separation.

Milana is a breath of fresh air in Kannada movies! The principle duo and the supporting cast have all acted well. Puneeth and Parvathi make a beautiful onscreen couple and I might catch more of their movies. The story is interesting, though the comedy baggage and the couple of fights could have easily been buried. The music by Mano Murthy and the heartwarming lyrics by Jayant Kaikini go along great together. I loved the tracks Male Ninthu Hoda Mele and Ninindale. Directed by Prakash, Milana is an endearing romantic drama in Kannada.

Akash (ಆಕಾಶ್)

Rating: 2/4 (Akash is a ho-hum poor-guy-meets-rich-gal movie that can be avoided.)

Puneeth Rajkumar is the most successful actor in the Kannada movie industry right now. Akash (ಆಕಾಶ್) is one of his early movies, released in 2005. I got interested to watch it after I came away pretty impressed by his recent movie Milana with Parvathi Menon.

Akash, as it turns out, is the typical poor-guy and rich-gal love story. Every actor in India seems to have a few of these dull movies in their filmography! Akash, the protagonist is a good Samaritan and Ramya, the rich-gal has a pair of villainous brothers. Throw in some situation comedy, a few songs and a fight every half hour and you have the movie. Puneeth’s acting is amateurish and his voice is grating. The music is pretty insipid, save for the one song which I like: Neene Neene. Directed by Mahesh Babu, Akash is a movie that can be avoided.