Kannada film star Sudeep took fans by surprise when he announced his decision to take up direction early in his career, at a time when demand for him as a star was shooting up. He had been criticized for the move. Today, his critics are the ones who will be surprised by what he has created.
My Autograph stands out for its stunning visuals, backed by wonderful performances from its artistes. Nothing can be said of the music mainly because the film is a remake of Cheran's Tamil hit Autograph, which won the National Award and can be classified as a trendsetter in the Tamil film industry.
For many in the Kannada film industry, it was a well-known fact that Sudeep would take up direction sooner or later. He had a lot of fire in him even as an actor, as is proved by the fact that he won a State Award and three continuous Filmfare Awards in the Best Actor category. But Sudeep really proves a point in his first directorial venture by elevating the standards of the film with his inputs.
It is difficult and extremely risky to attempt a remake of a film like Autograph, which didn't boast any big stars. What was most likeable in the film was not only the freshness of its narration, but the structure. Sudeep has his own image as a star, and there was a feeling that maybe the film would not hold because the Telugu version with a top hero like Ravi Teja was a big flop.
But, the director managed. Sudeep has taken care to see that the film is fine-tuned with many native aspects. Even minor details like the Kannada accent spoken in a distant village in Teerthahalli has been taken care of. The costumes have been selected with care, in portions shot in villages and the backwaters of Kerala. The scenes shot in Bangalore are lively and authentic. A perfect ambience is created when it shifts from a village to the high-profile ad world.
A major plus point is the camera work. Sudeep uses lighting to his advantage, to convey the essential feelings of a particular sequence. Even the colour combinations selected match the mood of the sequence perfectly. The homework put into it all is evident.
There are a few minor points where the director could have taken some interest though. Some artistes, for instance, do not suit the strength of the characters. Music is the soul of the film and Sudeep has just taken the tunes composed by Bharadwaj for the original. But he should have innovated a little on this front too. Still, the music is of a high quality and Kalyan's lyrics are superb.
Barring these minor points, Sudeep comes out with flying colours as an actor and director. His performance is top class and he has been able to portray the right emotions. Meena (playing the role essayed by Sneha in the original), Srinivasa Murthy, Deepu as Sudeep's young lover, and Shivaraj as the boss are all perfect choices.
To evaluate Sudeep's contribution as an actor as well as director is difficult. Let it suffice to say that he has played both roles extremely well. My Autograph is a pleasant film a rarity after the mediocre fare released recently.