Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu

GBSM poster

The past few years have seen a number of promising new directors appear in the Kannada film industry and Hemanth Rao is another to add to the list. His début film Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu has the benefit of an excellent cast, but the well-written story is beautifully developed and the blend of emotional drama, suspense and humour is perfect. At first glance it may appear rather dark as Anant Nag plays an Alzheimer’s patient who goes missing, with Rakshit Shetty as his increasingly desperate son, but there is plenty of joy in the film too and the emotional highs and lows are cleverly balanced. This is one of the best films I’ve seen this year so far, and as icing on the cake, it even has grammatically correct English subtitles!

What makes Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu such a good film is that Hemanth Rao tells a simple story exceptionally well. It’s just a bonus that the characterisations are superbly done and the dialogue is moving and funny while still sounding realistic and plausible. Venkob Rao (Anant Nag) is a widower who has developed Alzheimer’s and although he can remember his long ago past, his short-term memory is gone. Venkob’s son Shiva (Rakshit Shetty) has moved to Mumbai to work and placed his father in a nursing home since Venkob can no longer live by himself. The pressures of work and the distance that separates them mean Shiva rarely sees his father but when he comes back to Bangalore to seal a business deal he takes Venkob shopping for new clothes. The frustrations of dealing with an elderly and confused man while trying to buy him clothes and simultaneously talk business on the phone is eloquently portrayed here in just a few short scenes and Siva’s impatience is just as authentically portrayed. It’s nicely done and while Shiva comes across as an angry and harried man, Anant Nag gives Venkob dignity and occasionally lets a hint of mischievousness peek through that gives an insight into his personality before the Alzheimer’s disease took over.

After reaching breaking point, Shiva bad-temperedly drops Venkob off outside the nursing home and speeds away for a business dinner, but in the time it takes for the security guard to reach the front gate Venkob vanishes. Shiva immediately takes his frustrations out on his father’s doctor at the home, Dr Sahana (Sruthi Hariharan) threatening to ruin her career and sue the home although he was the one who didn’t take proper care of his father.  Dr Sahana is no pushover and hits back with Shiva’s abandonment of Venkob and his lack of engagement despite her calls and emails about his father’s progress. The dialogue is perfect, the reactions genuine and both Rakshit Shetty and Sruthi Hariharan are completely believable in their roles as they start the search for Shiva’s missing father.

Elsewhere a government official has been murdered and Ranga (Vasishta N. Simha) and his assistant Manja (Ravikiran Rajendran) have been given the job of disposing of the body. However their path crosses with Venkob when a brief stop along the way allows to slip into the back of their truck. Unfortunately the truck crashes and when a good Samaritan Kumar (Achyuth Kumar) stops to help, Ranga and Manja steal his car and haul both Kumar and Venkob along as hostages. With Kumar and his family locked up in their house with Venkob and the two villains, tension starts to rise as Ranga’s boss tells him to kill everyone and move on. Meanwhile Shiva is still searching for his father with the help of Dr Sahana and through her eyes Shiva starts to see his father in a new light. The physical search becomes a way to reconnect with his past and possibly his father too if he can ever manage to find him.

Anand Nag is absolutely brilliant as a 66 year old man with Alzheimer’s, but the rest of the cast are just as good. Vasishta Simha is superb as a career criminal who is fine with disposing of bodies but struggles with the idea of cold-blooded murder. Since his potential victims include Kumar’s wife and young son as well as the effectively harmless Venkob, his reluctance is perhaps rather understandable. Ranga is not a killer and his emotional turmoil is perfectly shown, particularly when Venkob starts to confuse Ranga with his son Shiva and tries to give him advice. His memory may be gone, but Venkob can recognise a soul in distress and his attempts to console the man who is trying to kill him are heart wrenching. Despite this, Hemanth Rao keeps everything from getting too emotionally bogged down by including small moments of perfectly nuanced humour that fit surprisingly well into the story. It would be easy to use Venkob’s condition to generate some cheap laughs, but instead we are laughing with Venkob rather than at him, and it makes all the difference to the mood of the film. As well as the sudden lapses back into confusion by Venkob, the excellent performance by Achyuth Kumar makes this part of the film memorable for all the right reasons and the mix of tension, drama and humour created is spell-binding.

Although some of the scenarios are rather far-fetched (it’s hard to believe for example that Sahana has time to go jauntering off searching for a patient and abandoning her case load at the home), nothing about the film feels too contrived and the story moves smoothly between the search for Venkob and  the cooped up criminals. Rakshit Shetty puts in another commendable performance after Simple Agi Ondh Love Story, with an accurate portrayal of a man searching for his father and finding himself along the way. Sruthi Hariharan is just as good here as she was in Lucia and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance here as the down to earth and practical Dr Sahana.

The music was a little too loud at times in the cinema, but the songs from Charan Raj are all lovely and at the right volume suit the mood of the film perfectly. The cinematography too by Nanda Kishore is good with some great visualisations of the mental distance between Venkob and Shiva. This is one of those rare gems where everything just comes together, with story, cast, characterisations and all the technical aspects flawless and perfectly executed. It works because Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu is quirky and different but at heart is a tale that will resonate with audiences. The story jumps between father and son and between present and past. There is the contrast between one man’s search for his father and a relationship that appears to be lost, and another’s search for his conscience and a way out of a bad situation. This is film-making at its best and I can’t wait to see what Hemanth Rao comes up with next. Highly recommended – you don’t want to miss this one!

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6 thoughts on “Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu

  1. I have read most of your reviews but saying something for the first time!. This movie is straight arrow to heart. Don’t know how the subtitles are as I speak Kannada. Just wanted to ask about that particular sequence where Ananth nag narrates his love story. “Nimma Pushpa” (meaning “your Pushpa”). That’s a Oscar worth performance!!. He narrates his story and we can totally visualize it, though there is nothing they show on screen!!. Did you feel the same?

    Another sequence which is fully as well as turning point of the story is when Ananthnag asks for water from behind!!. Anyone would end up crashing their vehicle if they hear a voice asking for water, where dead body is placed!!. Simply brilliant direction!!

    Like

    • Hi Sharmila,
      Thanks for commenting and for reading the reviews 🙂
      I agree – that speech was amazing and done amazingly well – Anant Nag is just amazing in this. My favourite scenes were with Ranga when he was confusing him with Shiva and then trying to give him advice. It’s a brilliant film!
      Re editing – I think you should be able to edit your comment once it’s approved and published 🙂
      Cheers, Heather

      Like

  2. Hi Heather,

    After a long time, I saw this movie and it’s just such a great story. A story that can be told anywhere to anyone and they will get it each time. However, I had the view that the movie will not have any suspense but then the writer-director Hemanth Rao makes sure the movie is interesting too with the subplot of Ranga. Overall, a great movie loved it!
    Loved your review too! However, I don’t agree on the Background score, I thought the music was just perfect. Especially, the Background score when Anant Nag describes his love story.

    Cheers,
    Dinesh V

    Like

  3. Hi Heather,

    After a long time, I saw this movie and it’s just such a great story. A story that can be told anywhere to anyone and they will get it each time. However, I had the view that the movie will not have any suspense but then the writer-director Hemanth Rao makes sure the movie is interesting too with the subplot of Ranga. Overall, a great movie loved it!
    Loved your review too! However, I don’t agree on the Background score, I thought the music was just perfect. Especially, the Background score when Anant Nag describes his love story.

    Cheers,
    Dinesh V

    Like

    • Hi Dinesh,
      Glad to hear you finally saw it – it’s such a good film! I actually liked the background music – it was just too loud in the cinema. Maybe your cinema had better volume control 🙂
      Cheers, Heather

      Like

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