Kantara – Unapologetically made of Tulu spirit.

I really took my time with this one. Everything has been said about Kantara, the recent Rishab Shetty blockbuster. When there’s a film as successful as this one, I refrain from posting a review because everyone speaks of it and shares their experience of the movie online – it makes me feel like I shouldn’t post anything unless I have something really unique to say about it.

Not that I found something entirely new. But, everyone who watched will agree that Kantara is an experience worth documenting. For all the right reasons, the movie has caught international attention and has made the native population of Tulunadu incredibly proud. As a collective, we’ve really had enough of everyone vilifying our cultural practices and calling them names even though we can slap it on their faces that they do not understand what they’re talking about. Time and again, Tuluvas have had to deal with cretins calling our practices regressive, pointless and even outright abusive – from the comforts of some distance, without making any basic effort to understand the pulse of the land. On the bright end, however, accusations of the sort have made us Tuluvas more defensive about our culture and have encouraged us to wear our identities on our sleeves. Many can have their issues with that; not that it matters.

Kantara is a much awaited breath of fresh air – not just for Tuluvas but for the part of the country’s population that has gotten tired of the popular culture calling its cultural practices and heritage ‘regressive’ or outdated. For once, a film maker has gone all out and fully, comfortably embraced his religious and folk roots and made a movie that’s confidently grounded in culture. No shade, no wannabe rebellion, no inclination to adhere to ‘modern’ ideas. No lame attempts to ‘break free’ from the past. Just pure love and respect for the subject of the story that is a cultural & religious practice.

And that, I believe, has contributed heavily to the success of the film alongside the other elements. While the story, cinematography, editing and music do take the cake, the sheer confidence with which Rishab Shetty has stood by his roots with Kantara is the blow that knocked the ball out of the park.

A master film maker has done what he does best with Kantara – he has gone all out and made a flawless movie. He has included practically everything you can include in the checklist of a ‘great movie’ including a romantic angle, impeccable comic timing, raw and endearing dialogues, perfect casting, music that will replay in your head, a mastermind of a villain and aesthetics that are a sight for sore eyes. And he has done more. What makes Kanatara more than a movie and a legend is the respectful treatment of cultural aspects including the Daiva, Kambala, food, language, and location. We know Rishab Shetty loves where he comes from – because of how he treats where he comes from in his movie.

Yes, the technical aspects of the film are crafted to perfection. But Kantara is special and will remain a forever favourite for many of us because it has reflected our affinity to our culture unapologetically. Tuluvas do not question the authenticity of our roots. We do not encourage notions that point fingers at our ancestral heritage. The Daivas of the land are the supreme authority (as well as the Gods). All the stories associated with them, all celebrations and all rituals are our way of life. Kantara is a reflection of this ethos of the land. For once, a movie has caught and portrayed the pulse of Tulunadu in the most appropriate manner.  Tuluvas will defend it with dear life.

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