Kantara review: A fairy tale that is nothing short of brilliant

Easily one of the finest cinematic experiences in recent times from Sandalwood, writer, director, and actor Rishab Shetty delivers his best till date, both on and off the screen.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published:Oct 10, 2022

A still from the movie Kantara
Kantara leaves a mark on audience!

Kantara (Kannada)

  • Cast: Rishab Shetty, Achyuth Kumar, Kishore Kumar, Sapthami Gowda, Pramod Shetty, Shine Shetty
  • Director: Rishab Shetty
  • Producer: Vijay Kiragandur
  • Music: B Ajaneesh Loknath
  • Running time: 2 hours 48 minutes

The Kannada movie Kantara kicks off with a king from the 18th century who has all the comforts of life but for peace and happiness. He sets out on a journey seeking fulfilment and soon stumbles upon a deity located inside a forest worshipped by the tribals.

Initially unwilling to accompany him, the supreme power makes a pact with the king — fulfilment if he donates some part of his land to the tribals who worship the God. But if he backtracks on his words, the God would take his peace back forever.

With the greed and selfishness of humans combined with cultural and traditional beliefs, Kantara is a brilliant piece of work stitched together perfectly in terms of making and on-screen performances.

Apart from the highlights of Dakshina Kannada culture — traditions such as daivaradhane, bhoota kola, and kambala (buffalo race) — it is the narration that captures the attention of the viewer right till the end.

The peace pact is unsettled when the king’s future generation eyes the vast land donated to the tribals.

This is when the deity returns with a vengeance. Shiva (Rishab Shetty), who witnesses his father in whom the deity had incarnated and took him away forever, grows on to become a vagabond. Thereafter, it is Shiva’s show all the way.

Achyuth Kumar plays a descendant of the king who is now a landlord. Another character, that of a forest officer, played by Kishore captures the man-nature conflict well.

The dual character of the landlord and how he meticulously plans to retain the land lost to the tribals sets the tempo of the tale.

The works of the art and cinematography departments complement each other to make it a visual treat. The best part of it all is the simplicity of characters that gives it a natural feel, which is unfortunately a big missing factor in recent commercial ventures.

It neither falls under the commercial nor the parallel films category and strikes a fine balance, with a good and clean storytelling experience.

Yes, there are a few drawbacks, but they hardly make a difference and do not spoil the overall effort.

In between, there are bits of romance, fights, and humour but the tale largely revolves around human greed and conflict with nature, along with a fine representation of culture and traditions.

One-man show

Apart from writing an effective script and then realising it perfectly on the screen, Rishab , who portrays Shiva, is undoubtedly the shining star of Kantara.

Rishab Shetty in Kantara

Rishab Shetty in Kantara (Facebook/Kantara)

He has excelled in his acting, showing remarkable versatility. What makes it memorable is that he has achieved it without the label of a star actor.

Be it the kambala or the daivaradhane sequences, Rishab leaves a lasting impression. Unlike KGF, made under the same banner — Hombale Films — Kantara came with no expectations but ends up as one of the best cinematic experiences in recent times in Kannada.

We can even say that it is easily one of the best Kannada films of all time.

The conflict

Not limited to mere romance or action, the movie focuses on the burgeoning conflict between humans and nature. The plot of a forest officer who is up in arms against tribals over encroaching forest land reflects the current real-life scenario.

While nature is one important aspect of the film, it also portrays the unique culture and traditions followed by the tribals and captures the rich history of the Tulunadu region.

Any good dish is a combination of proper ingredients and the perfect making process. For Kantara, the script, narration, and technical excellence are the ingredients. It combines this with power-packed performances for a well-made entertainer.

The film ends on a high note with a breathtaking sequence showing the fight for survival. Though the end is predictable, it nevertheless leaves a mark of its own.