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Karma is for a niche audience

November 29, 2010 10:05 IST

Radhika Rajamani reviews the Telugu movie, Karma. Post YOUR reviews here!

The tagline of Karma is Do You Believe which is a good starting point to discuss the film which is supposed to be a supernatural thriller shot in the United States. With a title like karma, which stands for a lofty philosophic concept, it sure is certainly a new concept being explored in Telugu cinema. But the analogy ends there. Somehow the title seems a misnomer for what is depicted in terms of the storyline.

Starting off as a tale between Padma (Jade Tailor) and Dev (Sesh Adivi), a 'love story' which explores the 'confrontation' between science and Hindu mythology/religion/spirituality with a parallel track of massacres which remain unexplained till the film eventually moves to the climax where it takes the transcendental leap providing the answers to the plethora of questions arising in the viewers minds. It's not a recreational film, though.

Padma loses her father as a child when he is killed just outside the temple in the US as he questions the temple priest for embezzling temple funds for drug peddling. Her mother shifts to a quiet Shamrock. Padma grows up to begin her course in medicine and loses her mother too. She is alone and lonely. In this scenario walk in Sumati and Dev. Sumati purports to be her mother's friend though Padma has never heard of her. Dev is 'godly'and can foresee things and people in trouble. He is quite an enigma. On the other hand, Padma is an atheist and questions Dev on how he is able to foretell and Dev attributes it to his bhakti. Slowly the non believer Padma is attracted to Dev.

The first half of the film is pretty slow paced with the 'love story' unfolding. There's a parallel track of killings in Shamrock which are reported on television. But there is no link between these two tracks.

There's a third character Raj (Sher Ali), a classmate of Padma who's in love with her, but there's something more to him.

It's only post interval that the loose ends are slowly tied up together and a slightly clearer picture emerges. Even the in the climax though the questions were mostly answered what lingered in the mind was the appropriateness of the title Karma.

Karma is a tale told in a modern way, weaving in Hindu mythology. This perhaps stemmed from the fact that the director-cum-actor Sesh Adivi had a miraculous escape on a US freeway which set him thinking. That was the germ of Karma. And he used the genre of the thriller to delineate his story.

Trying to weave mythology with something contemporary is no mean task. Sesh attempted it in Karma. He could have ensured that the pacing could have been a bit racier in the first half with the plugging of the loopholes. Everything was bunched up in the second half making it pretty loaded. Thankfully it was not too didactic.

The film is beautifully shot on Red One Camera by William Laxton in picturesque locations unseen so far. The special effects especially towards the end are worthy of mentioning. The music by three different people -- Pete Wonder, Leland Thunes and Justin Durban -- has certainly a different sound. Some of the songs have a distinct Indian flavour.

As far as acting goes, Sesh Adivi does a good job. With an 'angelic' face he is an apt choice to play enigmatic Dev. His scripting skills also deserve mention. He may have chosen an unconventional path and a novel theme but he has tried to infuse something new in Telugu cinema. Jade Tailor should be complimented for acting in a Telugu film. She did her best to fit into a film dealing with Indian mythology. However, the choice of an Indian actor would have been better. Sher Ali is convincing as Raj while Ria as young Padma is cute.

With its fresh theme and concept, Karma is no doubt a film which does not fit into the regular film format one is used to. Karma is for a niche audience who understands Hindu mythology and is looking for something out of ordinary.

Rediff Rating:

Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad