Not if it will fly high but how high it will fly

RAJEEV RAO writes from Bangalore: This was a week of great expectations for devotees of India’s two biggest religions, cricket and cinema. Perth was just what the pitch pujari ordered, with Anil Kumble & Co whacking the Aussies at the WACA. But will the boxoffice bhagwantha smile likewise on Yogaraj Bhat & Co at the turnstiles?

Gaali Pata suffers from one major drawback, which is the timing of its release. It comes after Mungaaru Male! But for this post-facto oddity, this well-scripted and well-presented film would have stood a chance of creating history once again. In retrospect, though, how reasonable is it to expect a monsoon every Friday?

Contrary to all the pre-release kite-flying, Gaali Pata is no remake of Dil Chahta Hai, though it has the same sharp, youthful, zesty feel of the Aamir Khan flick. Bhat packs off Ganesh into the verdant hill stations and gushing waterfalls to weave a narrative laced with punch and wit.

And what a jolly good trip it turns out to be. One that regular Kannada audiences reluctant to watch Kannada movies and Kannadigas yet-to-be initiated to Kannada cinema can venture into and come back having a good time.

Rajesh Krishnan’s brooding style, Diganth’s comic timing, Daisy Bopanna’s subdued elegance and Neetu’s fiery persona sit well with Ganesh playing the quintessential Bangalore boy. Anant Nag’s character unfortunately is not that well etched out.

Technically, the movie is worth going miles. Rathnavelu replaces Mungaaru Male lensman Krishna Kumar, and effortlessly does a spectacular job, whoever selected the locations making his job easier. Harikrishna delivers a winner with a couple of great tunes, but Mano Murthy’s absence is felt. Jayant Kaikini and Yogaraj Bhat are at their reliable best churning out lines like Minchaagi neenu baralu and Praana uliso khaayilege preethi yendennabahude.

But the clear star of the movie is undoubtedly the director himself. Continuing to surprise and succeed with his script writing and dialogues, Yogaraj Bhat keeps the audience in splits throughout the movie.

The real twist in the tale is the manner in which English media have reacted to the film as opposed to the Kannada media.

Vijaya Karnataka had a scathing page-one review. Thatskannada.com gives it an average review while Praja Vani and Kannada Prabha have given it a thumbs up without going over the top. On the other hand, rediff.com calls the movie “A class act”, The Times of India terms it a “masterpiece”, and Deccan Herald has as many words of praise.

The truth, as always, is somewhere in between the euphoria of the English media and the positive scepticism of the Kannada media. So, the question for Gaali Pata may not be “Will it will fly high?” but “Just how high will it fly”?

The cinema world is just as uncertain as the world of stock market. Blockbuster hits happen when the movie significantly and positively surprises the viewers, just like stocks providing investors with windfall profits when company performance exceeds investor expectations significantly.

Else, good performing stocks provide expected returns (which is not bad) and good movies become modest hits and maybe not blockbusters. So, Yogaraj Bhat has a challenge upfront for his next venture–to take “the road not taken”, to tread on uncharted territory and to significantly exceed expectations.

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