Unlike Bollywood, Hollywood encompasses the entirety of the United States. To be more specific, any feature film produced by the houses registered under Cinema of United States falls under the ambit of Hollywood. The story of Indian Cinema is far more diverse. Of approx. 2000 films every year, Bollywood makes about 1000 which is just about half of the entire language gamut of Kollywood and other Regional cinema. Owing to the stark difference in the socio-cultural demographics of the target audiences, Bollywood and Kollywood have always had a divergence in their respective style of cinema. While Bollywood puts its money on a romantic hero, Kollywood made its hero into a crime-fighting demigod who would occasionally find time to woo the lady of his dreams.
If you asked me for an analogy explaining a difference between the two I would call Kollywood, the anime of Indian Cinema – slightly exaggerated and caricaturish characters, over-the-top action choreography, and more often than not a riveting storyline that would cater to your base emotions for revenge and justice. After Rajnikanth bridged the gap between the twain, the rest of India became closet Kollywood fans. We would root for Bollywood in the theatres but would be glued to the Hindi-dubbed versions of Vikram Vedha on our TV screens, marveling at the many twists and turns in the plot. Baahubali, however, was the game-changer that turned everyone’s heads towards South-Indian cinema, closet-watchers and the skeptics alike. The audience that didn’t think of paying theatre money to a South-Indian production earlier, now clamoured to get a seat to see serious business unfold in front of their eyes.
And that brings us to KGF. Directed by Prashanth Neel and written by Vijay Kiragandur, KGF is a period drama set in the 80s that gets its name from the Kolar Gold Fields where the story has its roots in. The story begins during the 50s when the first nugget of gold is found in a Kolar mine, sparking an explosive gold-rush that made echoes across India and even across the Arabian Sea. A local clansman grabs the opportunity and establishes a strong-hold in the area, essentially sealing the whole region down so that he can monopolize the rich supply of gold. Right about the time the first nugget of gold was found, a baby was born in the mines. Brought up in abject poverty by a single mother, the child grew up to be a hardened boy who understood very early that only the powerful ruled the game while the meek suffered. After his mother’s death, the boy escapes to Bombay and grows up under the tutelage of the local mafia. Years go by and Rocky, as he now calls himself, become a feared name across Mumbai. As destiny would have it, his mafia boss tasks him with the impossible – to eliminate the man who controlled the Kolar Gold Fields if he wanted to own the whole of Mumbai. Rocky sets out on a journey where his dark past would stare him in the face.
KGF’s story is nothing that Bollywood or Indian Cinema in toto, hasn’t seen before. The typical “poor hero becoming a powerful criminal” is a concept that has been beaten down to death since the days of Bachchan’s Vijay Deenanath Chauhan. What really shines here is the stunning cinematography that is unlike you have ever seen before. The slow-motion sequences and a graphic novella like background narrative makes it feel almost like a Zack Snyder film. The film doesn’t mince words right from the outset and jumps into the storyline with a blistering pace. Except for the token lady-love that broke the tone of the film for a few distracting minutes, the story largely held its own through Bollywood new-comer Yash’s smoldering eyes and a natural swagger that can only come from the South. Although the character of Rocky is very one-dimensional, Yash carries it well. Anmol Vijay who plays the boy Rocky also delivers some of the most memorable performances in the film through some powerful lines that set the stage for Yash.
The film has some of the best action sequences I have seen in a long time. The editing is precise and doesn’t linger on one shot for long which bodes really well for the kind of jarring blows Yash lands on his opponents. The screenplay takes into account the pace and weaves some very interesting sequences together. One of my favourite non-action sequences is the “gun-assembly sequence” that happens in the DYSS headquarters where Rocky is asked to kill Garuda, the man who owns KGF. Don’t want to spoil this one for you. You’ll know it when you see it. Needless to say, the KGF team most certainly had some of the most talented set of technicians who have ever come together, in order to create this stunning spectacle. This one definitely deserves to be seen on the big screen. Chapter 1 of the two-part series has set high expectations and I am excited to see what the makers bring to the table in the next.