Essential Kantara Movie Rant

Dheeraj DeeKay
5 min readNov 3, 2022

‘One of the greatest movies you’ll ever see’. Yes, ever. ‘Masterpiece’. These and a dozen other fulsome praises from moviegoers have helped the Kannada movie Kanthara, now also dubbed in Hindi rake up money at the box office. To be honest, I can’t remember the last time when any movie with close to zero PR, and mostly word-of-mouth pull up crowds to theatres like this. And remember markets are down these days and most people are hesitant about spending money. It is no small feat to make up people’s minds to spend their money on movies during one of these days. DP Satish, a journalist from Karnataka who I follow for astute analysis of politics from south of the Vindhyas tweeted:

He of course was only talking about Sunday tickets since on other days tickets were mostly available, and fairly easily available. But even I wasn’t aware of this and so I quickly booked mine, on a weekday by taking an off from my workplace. Against all my expectations the theatre wasn’t full or anything as such. Only the last four or five rows were occupied. But this was a PVR in Maharashtra. I’m sure things were different in Bangalore. And anyway four-five rows of PVR in Maharashtra for a Kannada movie is no small feat either.

Umm wait, why am I telling you all this? I actually wanted to rant about something else altogether. You see when I came out of the theatre I was truly impressed. It’s been a long time since I last saw a Kannada movie. No, I didn’t see KGF. I fear I had seen a sweet romantic one before Covid. And Kanthara was indeed a good movie. But it also left me wanting more. I went expecting something else and was offered something else. Not bad but it’s still not what I went in for. More on that at the end. But first things first, no, it’s not a great movie, it is no masterpiece. It is just a good movie. When I had seen it, the Hindi dub was yet to release. I love language movies and genuinely want them to succeed. So I tweeted about Kanthara and also posted wherever I could urging people to go see it in theatres. Things started to spiral in a week’s time. There was mad praise everywhere. It was exciting to see a low-budget language movie making itself known in wider circles. But then came the comparison and bashing using Kanthara as a wide shoulder. People started to call it one of a kind movie, a masterpiece. There were memes taking a dig at other movies including the Hollywood biggies. I really lost it when it was compared with Godfather in one of these stupid memes which had four-digit likes. Holy hell! That is when I started to notice from whom was this fulsome praise coming. Most of these were Kannada speakers — for a long time now Kannada film industry which in past used to produce some great art cinema that used to win national awards and such has not produced anything that had made waves, many of these praise gangs were habitual Bollywood bashers and then few were those who believed in Hindu revivalism like gods, magic and all kinds of such things.

To repeat once again, Kanthara is a good movie and sadly (for those going overboard) that’s mostly it. For instance, it does not champion any social cause in a special way or in any radical manner — at the heart of it is the Adivasi land issue — but you don’t hear anyone talking about it in their praise — meaning the movie does not dwell on that aspect in any meaningful way so as to say it champions that issue. Instead, one of the things you come out thinking is, one should not mess with a god or god’s will, god’s way or word. Or like a man cannot defeat or win over god’s will. Like god is supreme and such things. These are the themes it dwells on. On the contrary, many recent Tamil and Malayalam movies have touched upon social issues and have produced many more excellent movies than Kantara. In fact, it is no way comparable to their scale and sensibility. And I haven’t seen Tamilians or Mallus beat their chest over their movies like people are doing for this one. Comparison with Bollywood is again misplaced — in pure numbers, Bollywood produces more movies than any other industry. Add to it their all-around marketing and mad reach of their stars which ensures most of us know about their movies even if we would not watch them or even follow the lead stars. This knowledge invariably means we would also know about movies that tank or flop at the box office. That’s not the case with other language industries. Like we can easily name five Bollywood movies that released recently but can we name five Kannada movies or Telugu or Tamil? We only know language movies that succeed there and then rise to the top and make it to our bubbles. Cream of creams.

The movie is mesmerising, wrote someone. The words used to describe Kanthara are just so random. It’s like everyone wants to top the last person’s adjective. Anupama Chopra while reviewing the Hindi version of Rocketry pointed out that the protagonist prays a lot, that he is shown before god more than necessary and such. Many would not even notice such a thing but this small observation became a debate on social media with other directors and filmmakers loading their guns at Chopra. But I have hardly seen any dissection of Kanthara from those praising it. The way Kantara treats its women characters is beyond abominable and yet none of those who praised it has even thought of mentioning this thing. I only saw two people on Instagram mention this in their stories and both of them are big Bollywood junkies. If this was a Bollywood movie then it would have gotten bashed to hell. Forget Brahmastra, remember Kabir Singh and how Hindi filmmakers were beaten to dust for that slap? And Kabir Singh was a remake of a Telugu movie which wasn’t originally bashed or criticized for the same scenes. You could easily say Bollywood by and large has moved from these problematic portrayals. By and large. Many language industries haven’t yet.

And finally, the whole charm of Kanthara is those scenes with ‘daiva’ or deity — that’s what people see on social media and in the trailer, and that’s why they want to see it on a big screen and eventually end up in theatres but the scenes with daiva hardly make up ten minutes of the entire 2-hour-30-minute movie. It almost felt like cheating but then again, it was a good movie still. Worth the watch.

End of rant. Please go watch it still. It is like I said a good movie.



Dheeraj DeeKay

I Listen. I Speak. I Write. I Do. And That’s Why I Am. Storyteller at large! Oh yeah, also a Programmer, Full Stack Developer when at desk.