Shivanna, Maadesha & the legacy of Dr Raj Kumar

A variety of factors—inexperience, incompetence, disinterest, conflict of interest, the fear of ostracism, sometimes plain fear itself—have made it nearly impossible for movie critics to say what they would really like to say about films in most Indian languages.

Result: a review has become a kind of feel-good “text ad” which leaves movie makers happy, safe and smiling all the way to the next underworld don wanting to finance a film.

The Shivaraj Kumar starrer Maadesha is a case in point. The censors found the “gangster film with a difference” so mind-numbingly mad that they didn’t bothering giving it a certificate. Yet, the film gets hailed hailed as an enjoyable film here, here, and here.

Not one reviewer mustered the gumption to ask the key question: if the son of the great Dr Raj Kumar acts in a film like this, associates himself with film makers like these, where does that leave the legacy of the great Dr Raj Kumar, and where does that leave Kannada cinema itself?

Thankfully, S. Shiva Kumar in today’s Hindu fill the breach:

“I fled after the last shot in Maadesha, which was mauled by the censors. I was shaking with disbelief because if this was allowed then imagine the scenes which were cut….

“It’s sad. Shivraj Kumar should realise that he’s a star today only because a fraction of his father’s fans felt beholden to him. Raj Kumar left a legacy of morally rich films. The characters he played were virtuous because he felt indebted to his fans [whom] he referred to as ‘God’. That’s also the reason he endeared himself to family audiences.

“Stars do have a social obligation at least as far as their frenzied fans are concerned.

“Ironically, a sequel [to Maadesha] is being planned and a film called Hodi Maga starring Shivanna has been launched.”

Read the full article: Spewing red

Also read: Dr Raj Kumar 1930-2006