What’s Wrong With Kantara?


Cinema is considered to be a mirror to the society. Cinema tends to also create socio- political impact on our society at multiple levels. Hindi Cinema off late is going through a sluggish phase of failing to charm the audience. In a phase where every big and medium budget films are failing to draw the attention of the audience then releases ‘Kantara’. There is a very old saying that when the times are odd one looks for a saviour, similarly ‘Kantara’ arrived as a saving grace for deteriorating plight of Hindi cinema. Though one factual observation should be made at the outset that ‘Kantara’ is an Indian Kannada language film directed, Written and acted by Rishab Shetty. The film is made in just 16 crore. It is being consider as a cinematic masterpiece. Kantara is about a forest situated in Karnataka and focuses on the people of this forest and a very prominent folklore associated with the region of Tulunadu in Karnataka.

The film depicts a struggle between human greed and forest with the tradationally rooted folklore at its backdrop. Director, writter and actor Rishab Shetty has very aptly portrayed the plot with a cinematic and visual spectale for audience to get captivated with the story from the opening scene to the climax. India has seen a long standing struggle against superstition and othrodxy that is being peddled through socio-cultural traditional practices that are ingrained in our society for several centuries. India has come a long way in this very struggle against othrodoxy and superstition from pre- Independence era to post Independence era with the impact of social reform movement and political awakening that laid a lot emphasis on scientfic temperament and rationality. However the film Kantara in a very unintentional manner is becoming a promoter of believing in superstition and orthodixcal practices. One has great respect for traditionally rooted socio- cultural and religions practices that has been passed down to our society generations after generation in a form legend folklore but to present it as a form of reality that reserect the believe in spirits and the paranormal activities coming through these folklore is to almost throughing our modern day society back into the dungent of orthodixcal and supersticious backwardness.

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Cinema is great means to empower and imancipate the society by raising some troubling socio- political and cultural issues of our times with its fair share of entertainment as well. Kantara in my close observation had the great scope of becoming one such film of our times that raises some heart jollting concerns of the tribals residing in the forest and representing they fight to secure the fading identity under rapid movement of state taking over land under the pretext of conservation, development. One cannot even undermine the ever langvishing threat of privatisation and industrialization on tribal land as well. Kantara came across all well till a point it kept representation of the practiced folklore as symbolic as a matter respect for diety worship but but the whole problem is that it gets passed down as a reality that is very much visible in the climax scene when Shiva’s character disappers in forest while performing bhootakola.

Kantara is a great entertaingfilm with some fabulous visual representation but one cannot negate or undermine the nature of its impact on our present day society especially at a time when our Indian society is already grappling with socio- political complexities that is further propelled by political and social organizations for they individual vested interest over collective interest of our nation as a whole. Our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru once said that the Indian state should be a promoter of scientific temperament, rationality and socio- religious harmony. This is also mentioned under the Directive principles of State Policy of our Indian Constitution.

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