My Favorite Kannada Film Yet “Aptha Mithra”

I had nearly lost faith in Kannada movies, but luckily we saw “Aptha Mithra” this past weekend and faith was restored.  “Aptha Mithra” was very entertaining and we both enjoyed the movie very much.  Also, Kannada movies are starting to make some sense-words are more familiar, as are some of the actors and actresses. 

 

Plot: I’d call “Aptha Mithra” a suspense film.  It isn’t gory and there is not any blood or guts.  The film does have a ghost, though.  In a city in Southern Karnataka there is a large, beautiful bungalow that had been abandoned for years.  A young couple comes to rent it out, even though others try to dissuade them.  One day the curious young wife goes up to the haunted room and opens the door.  The ghost is released.  The ghost is the mistress of a king.  She was a dancing girl.  Her lover lived in a small house on the property and when the king found out she had a lover, he killed her by lighting her on fire.  Her angry ghost was locked into a room of the bungalow.  How will the ghost leave? 

 

One of the interesting subplots in the movie was how the ancient and modern work together.  For example, the character of the holy man seems to me to represent the ancient.  Vijay’s character seems to represent modernity.  Only by working together can they force the ghost leave. 

 

Another unique fact is that the story first appeared in a Malayam movie (the main language spoken in Kerala in South India), and afterwards was made into a Tamil movie (main language of the state of Tamil Nadu also in South India) and even in 2007 was made into a Hindi (Bollywood) movie, Bhool Bhulaiyaa.  I’d like to see the other versions some day to see what remained the same and what got changed to fit the different cultures. 

 

The film seemed to be like a “who’s who” of the Kannada film industry starring popular actors like Dwarakish, Ramesh, Soundarya, and Prema, .  My favorite character in the film was Vijay, the psychiatrist played by Vishnuvardhan.  I thought his cool guy, always in control character was a little funny.  This actor reminds me of Chuck Norris of Walker Texas Ranger fame.  I guess it is that they are both so over the top?  Both have reddish hair?  Both look to be the same age and both have over the top fight scenes?  His character was definitely larger than life…..how many psychiatrists can you think of that could fight 5 or more guys at the same time and win? 

 

This film was a huge hit when it came out in 2004.  It ran in movie theaters for over a year and broke all sorts of records.  The movie also won lots of awards- Best Film, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director, and Best Music Director.

I will be watching more Kannada movies after this.  Unfortunately, we are nearing the end of Netflix’s Kannada selections.  Soon we will have to find another way to get our Kannada movies.

Nammura Mandara Hoove; My Second Kannada Movie

We finished another Kannada movie this past weekend, “Nammura Mandara Hoove”.  Satya says the title roughly translates to “Flower in my Native Place”.  He picked out the movie because he wanted me to see what North Karnataka looks like.  Apparently, it was filmed within 20 miles of his mother’s village. 

What is it about:

A young man (Shivaraj Kumar) from the movie/music business travels to North Karnataka to visit a friend and to find local talent.  While there, he falls in love with the same young woman (Prema) his friend (Ramesh) has loved silently for years.  The young woman falls in love with the first young man.  Who has a happy ending?  Who ends up alone?

Songs:

I thought the songs were very beautiful.  In some ways, the songs sound almost Chinese to me.  The songs and dances are very different from those in Bollywood movies-more subdued and with fewer instruments. 

 Reactions:

I thought the story was fairly realistic in some ways like how the love triangle was resolved.  In other ways, I thought that some things were overwrought-why would the tribal girl agree to pretend to have an affair with the movie/music producer?  I would think that in real life if word leaked out that she was having a relationship out of marriage her life would be extremely difficult and her chances of marriage would be ruined. 

 

Again, I am wondering why the physical standards for male Kannada actors are so low.  For Shivaraj I guess it makes sense as his father is the legendary Dr. Raj Kumar.  Ramesh seems to be a fairly successful actor in his own right too.  Ramesh and Shivaraj Kumar definitely are not “hot”, “cute”, or even attractive.  They were both overweight and Shivaraj needed a haircut.  Am I the only one thinking this? 

 

Another thing I’ve noticed with both Bollywood and Kannada films is how “touchy” they are.  Do people in India just touch more in general than Americans?  I don’t mean sexual touching, but friendly, affectionate touching and playful slapping/hitting.  From the movies, this appears to be true.

 

I thought it was interesting how the movie showed a variety of different people.  There was the local North Karnataka man wearing an earring in each ear, part of a gourd on his head for a hat, shirt, and longi.  The young tribal woman wore a dress more like a Polynesian dress: above the ankles, over one shoulder, belt at waist.  She had tattoos on her forehead and chin.  Her hair was bunched in a ponytail on one side of her head.  Unfortunately, the local was in the movie mostly for comedic relief and the tribal girl nearly got used by Shivaraj’s character.

 Overall:

I’d recommend the movie for its scenery and music. I liked how Prema got to yell at them at the end and how she got them to behave like adults finally.  On the other hand, I thought that the movie was slow and the guys immature.  The captions were also a bit off in some places.  5/10