KGF had people raving about it early on, making it one of the most anticipated films of the year so much so that it had even SRK looking over his shoulders. SRK’s only release of the year was up against a film that featured a star from regional cinema down south and the fact that it had him sweating was a sign that KGF was indeed worth the wait. So it was hardly surprising that KGF had it’s release delayed by a week here in the UAE. Despite it’s ambitions KGF was in fact the underdog here and there’s always that human impulse to root for the underdog. Here, it was also a case of art imitating life given the fact that the movie chronicled the life of a boy who grew up in the streets of Mumbai and went on to rise as the most dreaded gangster of the 80’s, the period which the movie unfolds in. I was unaware of the existence of Yash until the trailers of KGF popped up all over the social media speaking almost all major languages that we watch our films in. This is only the first chapter of the two part film franchise and KGF has only set the stage now, a pretty decent job at that too, I must say.
KGF is short for Kolar Gold Fields, the age old gold mines next to Bangalore and is set in the 80s though it starts off in the 1950s which shows the birth of the mines coinciding with the birth of its leading man. The film would safely fall into the historical fantasy genre though there’s more of fantasy than history here. You do get to see references to prominent historical figures and events that shaped the nation, namely Indira Gandhi though they have used a different name, and the global conflicts of the era. KGF is compared to the mythical El Dorado early on by the narrator, a journalist played by veteran stalwart Anant Nag. KGF belongs to the stable of the graphic novels that were made into films in the west like 300 and Sin City, only here there was no novel for the director to go by. The narration by Anant Nag is how the story unfolds and is one factor which brings 300 to mind apart from the visual style. KGF is sheer imagination and vision of a director, at work. The frames are rich in terms of texture and imagery. The early exchanges between characters are literally comic book stuff. The graphic novel style is maintained throughout and is deliberate. Some initial sequences felt like a Telugu movie directed by Zack Snyder. Some frames with Yash in it reminded me of Samurai Jack, the cult animated series. The scenes in Mumbai with the younger Rocky, the main protagonist felt like a tribute to the umpteen Amitabh Bachchan starres from the 70’s where he played a gangster. In fact, now that I think about it, the mother- son character dynamics of KGF draws comparisions with that of Deewar indeed. The pace at which the film moves fits the scale of the tale being told though you can’t help wonder at the sheer amount of scenes that must have been chopped at the editing table. The writing does take a back seat when the focus is on the visuals but you hardly notice because the whole movie is an experiement in fludity of motion and coherence of sequences, cinematically. Once the movie switches gears in the second half, there’s no stopping it and you can watch only in awe.
Every myth and tales of salvation from all cultures across the globe has a recurring theme, that of the promised saviour, the messiah who is destined to fight for the oppressed. We find this narrative in our written history, our religious texts, our comics and our movies. Baahubali and The Matrix Trilogy used this motif and KGF is no different. Writer – Director Prashant Neel has used his brilliant vision that puts him right up there the best in the business, globally to overcome the cliches that are associated with the theme. Aiding Yash in this process is a plethora of supporting actors and if you do not stay focused you would literally end up losing the plot. The writing gets better too towards the end and the makers have tried to innovate even with the most cliched of situations. There are constant references to cinematic heroes and their time old antics by a bunch of kids who basically acts as prompts for the viewers, a cIever ploy again, by the director. There’s a self- awareness in it’s most outrageous moments.It’s these tiny tweaks the makes KGF worth your money and time. Remember this is not Marvel or DC, this is the Indian superhero and that would be any star you cheer for in your part of the country, in your language. Yash is the star who has dared to make you do that across the barriers of language and KGF is the film helping him do that. Now, I am indeed wondering if the tale of the gold fields and the oppression depitcted are allegories to the social and economic histories of the region but that remians to be seen in Chapter 2.