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A masterpiece from Girish Kasaravalli

By R G Vijayasarathy
September 08, 2008 13:31 IST
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Three decades ago when Girish Kasaravalli's debut Kannada film Ghatashradhdha was released in Bangalore, the film was able to get a very good opening. It was very well appreciated by a large number of movie goers as the product of a young and talented director who had worked as an assistant to Girish Karnad and B V Karanth after passing out from the Film and Television Institute.

Today, after three decades and after winning four National Awards and several international awards, Girish Kasaravalli, to his dismay, finds that his new film Gulabi Talkies is released only in multiplexes which have limited screens.

It is regrettable that a film which was adjudged the best Indian film at the 10th Osian's Cinefan festival and won a Best Actress Award for it's leading lady Umashree, will not be seen by all due to limited screens. A very sad state of affairs indeed.

 Gulabi Talkies is based on a short story written by well-known feminist writer Vaidehi.

Once again Girish Kasaravalli has exhibited his exceptional talent in narrating the story in a very realistic way by focusing on the minutest details. While depicting the many dangers of consumerism and economic reforms, he takes the film to a different plane altogether by using perfect imagery techniques.

The film shot in the coastal town of Kundapura and Kasaravalli, touches upon the social and political ramifications of many issues that concern us.

Gulabi is a midwife who leads a lonely life as her husband Moosa has deserted her. He stays with his second wife in the neighbouring village. Gulabi's zest for happiness and good life is looked down upon by the villagers but she is unperturbed. But she is indispensable to the villagers because of her abilities.

Gulabi has a passion for watching films, which she does by taking a boat to a neighbouring town every day. Her passion for films is so great that she refuses to do her job when watching a film. One day she is bodily lifted by the theatre owner when his daughter develops complications.

When Gulabi brings a colour television set with a cable connection to her house, not only the villagers but even her deserted husband Moosa start visiting her house to watch films.

It is here that Kasaravalli shows the hypocrisy that exists in our society in a very subtle way. Take this scene as an example. In one scene, an elderly woman is shown combing her daughter's hair. When the daughter accidentally touches Gulabi, an enraged mother slaps her.

Girish Kasaravallii has taken a leaf out of Vaidehi's small story and has worked deftly on the script. The dialogues are of the Kundapura accent while the language spoken by Muslims is also very real. In fact, the dialogues are the best part of the film which truly reflect the despair, aspirations and happiness of the people of the village.

Kasaravalli also deserves praise for the way he has developed the character of Gulabi. Perfect casting and excellent performances are the other highlights of the film.

Umashri is the heart and soul of the film with her face showing a myriad of expressions. You cannot think of any other Kannada actress who can perform such a difficult role so convincingly. Singer and actress MD Pallavi also shines with a graceful performance. The director has used many local artists in the film who have also delivered very good performances.

Camera work by Ramachandra and background score by Issac Thomas Kottukapalli are top class.

By all yardsticks, Gulab Talkies is an outstanding film that cannot be missed.

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R G Vijayasarathy