Kantara Review: Rishab Shetty creates a hypnotic world with his cinematic retelling of folklore


Film: Kantara

Cast: Rishab Shetty, Achyuth Kumar, Kishore, Sapthami Gowda

Director: Rishab Shetty

Rating: 4 Moons

Folklore has always been an incredibly fascinating subject to explore. Blend it with some cinematic visuals, you have the perfect recipe to make it straight to a viewer's heart, mind and soul. That's exactly the impact Kantara has on the audience. One-man army Rishab Shetty, in his multilingual offering, takes a dip into the tradition of Bhoota Kola, a folk dance performed primarily in coastal Karnataka. To break it down, it is a spirit worship ritual as people believe the spirit protects the village from adversities and also makes the land prosperous. 

Kantara takes us to the 18th century when a king, deprived of love, peace and joy, gives a piece of forest land to the villagers in exchange for an idol of a local deity who is said to bring prosperity. While the king led a happy life thereafter, years later, his descendant arrives at the annual Bhoota Kola event demanding the land back. However, he meets a tragic and unexpected death. Cut to 20 years later, we are introduced to Shiva (Rishab Shetty), a hot-headed villager who is all brain and brawn. Known for his notorious deeds, Shiva gets into his real element when he has to tackle forest officer Murali (Kishore) who wants to end the superstitious rituals to save the forest from the villagers.

Rishab, the actor, writer and director, takes us into a hypnotic world of folklore just by establishing the right atmosphere from the first frame. The invisible layer of mysticism surrounds the film throughout leaving very little scope for any sort of distraction to affect the movie-watching experience. Despite being predictable to an extent, it doesn't falter in keeping you hooked to the screens. 

Whenever folklore is represented on the big screen, it becomes an experience in itself. Kantara does it brilliantly. The visuals are enthralling and transport us straight to coastal Karnataka. The conflict between the villagers and the forest officer, though a done and dusted concept, gets a new life with the treatment it has received. The screenplay certainly doesn't let you down. All that the film demands from you is undivided attention. Even the slightest of distractions could hamper the overall filmic experience. 

Rishab manages to successfully strike the right balance between politics and superstitions. The jump scares are placed perfectly, catching you off guard; at least the first one. Talking about the screenplay and choreography of every major scene, we cannot forget how beautifully the climax has been done. The sequence, possibly one of the best in Indian cinema, leaves us craving for more. It is intense, breathtaking and masterfully choreographed. The 2 hours odd wait for the finale act is worth it.  

As the whole and soul of Kantara, Rishab ticks all the boxes of a blockbuster. Carrying the film on his shoulder, he delivers one of the finest movies made in the country this year. Kantara comes in an unexpected surprise when the world is raving about the likes of RRR, KGF and Pushpa. This film can give these gigantic hits a run for their money. The other actors of the film-  Achyuth Kumar, Kishore and Sapthami Gowda team up with Rishab to make Kantara an immersive experience with their thundering performances. 

The cinematography by Arvind S. Kashyap plays a vital role in Kantara. Capturing the most beautiful scenes through the lens, Arvind adds value to the period film. One of the key assets of Kantara has to be Ajaneesh Loknath's music.  

If you happen to be a fan of cinema or not, Kantara is one such venture that commands your attention. While the trend speaks a lot of its brilliance, you cannot completely understand the frenzy around it until you experience it yourself on the big screen. Watch it for the perfect retelling of folklore like never before. 

PeepingMoon gives Kantara 4 Moons