Kannadiga Movie Review: Ravichandran’s film showcases the love of our mother tongue- Cinema express

Seeing lesser-known facts of history being translated on screen always makes for an interesting watch. And the latest addition to this list is the Zee5 period drama, Kannadiga. The film, which begins with the phrase ‘Siriganadam Gelge’, is a tribute to the generations of writers, who dedicated their lives to preserving the Kannada script, its richness, and culture. The director aims to trace the journey of such writers, and imbibe that knowledge to the present generation.

Cast: Ravichandran, Pavana Gowda, Jeevika, Balaji Manohar, Jagadish Mythri, Achyuth Kumar, Gurudatt

Director: Giriraj BM

The initial few episodes take place in the 16th century, and we are introduced to the world of Samanthabhadra, who sheds sweat and blood for the Kannada land. On the instructions of Queen Chenna Bhairadevi of the Saluva Dynasty, (also known as Pepper Queen by the Portuguese), Samanthabhadra dedicates the rest of his life to serving Kannada.

Next, we are shown the third generation of this family, and here the focus is on Gunabhadra, the eighth descendant. He is trying to claim the ancestral property given by the Queen to Samanthbhadra to build a university and a temple to preserve Kannada and its culture. He learns that the land was bought by German Ferdinand Kittel, who has a fondness for the Kannada language seeks help from Gunabhadra. The duo comes together and works on the research and documentation. The rest of the story tells us the kind of obstacles Gunabhadra faces in his personal life and the sacrifices he goes through in materialising his dream and fulfilling his mission. The film also highlights caste pride and politics, which makes it relevant even today. Coming from the award-winning director Giriraj, it is obvious that a ton of research has gone into the subject, and he has tried to bring out deep facts in cinematic terms. However, the film does come with its flaws. One, it is too melodramatic, and two, it has a long running time. The main attraction of Kannadiga is Ravichandran’s performance, and both as Gunabhadra and Samanthabhadra, we are sure to forget the regular flamboyance associated with the Crazy Star. Wonder, why none of the filmmakers got this impression about Ravichandran till Giriraj did. Kannadiga has Ravichandran shouldering a lot of responsibilities, and it will not be a surprise if Ravichandran fetches some awards for his performance.
The film, featuring limited actors has good participation coming from them. From Paavana Gowda as Gunabhadra’s wife, Jayashree as the daughter, and Jamie Alter’s Ferdinand Kittel, and Jagadish, all actors justify their roles. They are also ably supported by Achyuth Kumar, Brahmanda Guruji, and Balaji Manohar, who play pivotal characters. Rockline Venkatesh makes a strong presence in his short,
yet important role. The title track Siriganadam Elge sung by Shivarajkumar will remain close to people’s hearts.

If Kannada language is thriving even today, it is all because of the sacrifices made by the scriptwriters in the past, who have managed to preserve the Kannada work, and culture for generations now. And Kannadiga is an important documentation that showcases the love of our mother tongue.

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