Friday, July 19, 2024

Review: Shiva Vedha- A well-rounded social drama

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Cast: Dr. Shiva Rajkumar, Bharath Sagar, Ganavi Laxman, Aditi Sagar, Veena Ponnappa, Umashree, et al.

Produced by: Geetha Shivarajkumar & Zee Studios

Writer and Director: A. Harsha

Cinematography: Swamy J. Gowda

Music: Arjun Janya

Editor: Deepu S. Kumar

Amartya Smaran

Dr. Shiva Rajkumar’s 125th film titled “Vedha” was originally released in Kannada on December 23, 2022. The success of the film in Sandalwood propelled the makers to release the Telugu dubbed version titled, “Shiva Vedha”.

The film which hit the screens on February 9, embraces the philosophy of “Don’t fear, don’t forgive.” The idea of punishing the perpetrators at any cost runs through Vedha’s (Shiva Rajkumar) blood. Vedha, Pushpa (Ganavi Laxman) and Kanaka (Aditi Sagar) are a happy family. After an unforeseen incident, Vedha and Kanaka, the father-daughter duo embark on a killing spree to take vengeance.

Most of the pre-internet era kids have grown up listening to stories narrated by their grandparents. Director A. Harsha surprisingly makes use of this technique to tell the story.

In present day Mysore(2021), a woman in her early 20s gets molested in a bus. She runs home and narrates the incident to her grandmother. After a while, when the young woman comes out of her room with a book in her hand, the grandmother asks her to read something that’d make a difference in her life. She points at her book shelf and the camera glides across a set of books and turns the viewer’s attention to this one book named, “The Hunt Begins.” The aged woman reads the chapter and that’s how the narration starts.

The incidents in the book document Shiva Vedha’s life. The timeline of the film jumps to Chandra Giri(1985). Here’s where we get to see our hero’s massive introduction. The entire sequence is stylised to suit the taste of the mass audience. The slow motion frames, the background score, and the action choreography look brilliant.

The stylistic choice of the filmmaker to incorporate dozens of slow motion shots to elevate the characters often hinders the pace of the film, but it all looks great. Individually, all the fight sequences and elevation shots of both Vedha and Kanaka, are sure to make an impact but on the whole, it seldom tests our patience. The songs leave little to no impact but the background score keeps you engaged for the most part.

Oddly enough, the filmmaker unravels the story through a bunch of haphazardly placed scenes. In the first half of the movie, the random placement of the scenes coupled with songs leave you hanging; the timeline jumps from the 80’s to the 60’s and then back to the 80’s. All said, A. Harsha managed to lace it all together with great skill. The shots capture the rural landscape of the 1980s really well. Rural India is home to more than 800 million people and the cinematography is so spot on that it reflects the grim realities of the people.

Ganavi Laxman as Pushpa steals the show with her impeccable acting. Pushpa is a strong individualistic woman. Vedha, a man who’s considered to be this sage-like figure in the town who doesn’t give a hoot about anyone, has to calm down and stay grounded in front of this powerful lady. Ganavi Laxman saves the film on multiple occasions. This is not to say that Dr. Shiva Rajkumar was bad. He plays the part with sheer intensity. Aditi Sagar as Shiva Rajkumar’s daughter in the film shows great athleticism in all the action sequences. She’s quick and looks like a desi superhero who’s on a mission to kick the rear ends of bad guys.

Shiva Vedha deals with a wide range of themes. Most importantly, it delves into the most serious issue in our country at the moment; “Victim Shaming”. The haphazardness falls in place in the last 20 minutes. The director gives us closure by putting all the pieces together. It’s not the kind of closure that often leaves us in a state of despair, but the one that eases pain. A star like Dr. Shiva Rajkumar choosing a picture like this which touches upon such a crucial issue that persists across India is absolutely inspiring. Unlike most masala films, Shiva Vedha treats its women with utmost respect and tells a story that’s worth everyone’s time. Certainly, it is not a regular entertainer but a wonderful social drama.

Rating: 3.25/5

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