Srikanth Srinivasa says Bhageerathi is an unusual film that has a folk touch with riveting performances by its lead actors.
Directed by Kannada writer Prof Baragur Ramachandrappa, Bhageerath stars Bhavana, Kishore, Tara, and Srinath among others. It is based on a popular Kannada folk ballad, Kerege Haara that turns the spotlight on the sacrifice of a woman for the sake of her village.
Bhageerathi (Bhavana) dreams of a lake, an artificially created water body to slake the thirst of her village. She comes in contact with Maadevaraya (Kishore) who likes her idea of a tank for the community.
Maadevaraya convinces his father to construct a tank for the village. The two fall in love but caste differences come in their way as Maadevaraya is the son of Mallanna Gowda (Srinath). Both families agree to conduct the marriage at the site of the tank.
Unfortunately, the lake does not fill with water as expected. The priest advises Mallanna Gowda to sacrifice one of his daughters-in-law. The axe falls on Mallanna Gowda's younger daughter-in-law, Bhageerathi.
Gowda is in a dilemma as he cannot ask Bhageerathi to sacrifice her life for the sake of the community. She overhears the conversation and is equally flummoxed about what to do as her husband is away. The irony is that she is the one who fought for the tank, and now she is called upon to sacrifice herself to get the water.
Prof Baragur Ramachandrappa has managed to keep audiences engaged with the narration though the film is heavily dialogue-oriented and less visual.
The film has no villain and it tries to convey the message that people become victims of value systems due to tradition and beliefs.
Bhavana as Bhageerathi shines and makes up for the lack of visuals in the movie. Tara as the elder daughter-in-law of Gowda is equally at ease and excels in her role and so does veteran actor Srinath.
Kishore, who is known for playing negative roles, has nothing much to do. V Manohar's music matches the situations. Harish Sandekoppa's camera work is superb. Ravishankar and Vatsala as the king and queen are eyesores.
The film is worth watching because it is an unusual film, unlike what the Kannada film industry usually churns out.