Kantara is a Kannada language Indian film written and directed by Rishab Shetty. He also plays the lead in the film. The movie was originally released in Kannada, but after receiving favourable reviews, it was dubbed in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam for a wider release.
The movie is set in the deep forest region of western Karnataka, where tribes have a close relationship with nature. Though the story takes place in 1990, the trail dates back to 1847. A king once traded with the tribe’s god for the peace and prosperity of his land. In exchange, the king agreed to hand over the entire forest land to the tribes. As time goes on, people become more educated, and the government establishes numerous forest laws to protect the forest and the animals that live there. When the tribes lose their ancestral land in the modern world, their faith is called into question. Does the tribe’s god return to protect his people or the legends are all lies and there is no god or guardian. Kantara tries to go deeper into these ideas.
With the deep forest, the tribes, their diet, and their festivals, Kantara’s world building appears to be quite authentic. Real-world shooting adds to the movie’s atmosphere. The costumes and art department did an outstanding job, and with the assistance of the DOP, they were able to successfully depict the ominous and tense environment of Kantara.
The movie has a good beginning, but it veers off course in the middle in pursuit of commercial components. Although Rishab Shetty does a great job in his role, the supporting cast appears to be more capable. The movie manages to find its footing in the third act despite some awkward humour, a flimsy love story, and several manufactured buildups. Despite using traditional instruments, they give the folk music an extremely cinematic quality. The music is the strongest part in the climax; it does half the work for the film, while Rishab Shetty‘s hypnotic and powerful performance in the climax does the rest.
As a director, Rishab Shetty excels as well. Despite the limited resources, the effort and research are admirable. In several parts, the film appears to be very personal. The nature vs man subject is thoroughly investigated. The way they stage that action sequence within the black smith shop, which is dreamlike and seductive, is really wonderful.
Kantara is a labour of love. Even though it’s far from perfect, the movie keeps you interested and pleasantly surprises you at the finale. Some of the visuals are breathtaking. The scream from the folk dancer is furious, and the sound from those Nadaswaram (traditional wind instrument) is captivating. All the affection and acclaim Kantara has received from Indian audiences is well-deserved. This will serve as a case study for others on how Rishab Shetty and his crew managed to pull off this impressive cinematic accomplishment using very little funding. When the Pan India joke is at its height, people tend to believe that by casting several well-known actors from different industries, their film will become a Pan India sensation. Kantara, a film about tribal people from rural districts of Karnataka with no well-known faces in the lead, is a fitting response to that nonsense. A quality film has always transcended linguistic and cultural borders and Kantara is the recent example.