(+) Plot, screenplay, editing, background score, Shraddha Srinath
(-) Script, direction, lack of well-evolved characters, weak sub-plots
The new age of Kannada Cinema is here. Well, that’s what people have been discussing for the last 2-3 years. Films like Simple Aagi Ondh Love Story, 6-5 = 2, Lucia, Ulidavaru Kandanthe have given hope to those who had lost faith in Kannada moviemakers who kept churning dumb and cheap rip-offs of movies from other languages. Directors like Pawan Kumar and Rakshit Shetty are among the faces who represent this change. Unlike the past where names of actors involved in a movie influenced the size of its audience, the names of these directors are now sufficient to draw people to both single-screens and multiplexes. U-Turn, Pawan Kumar’s third directorial release, can be cited as one of the best examples of such movies. In fact, I had to skip the first weekend and the catch the movie on the next weekend of the movie’s successful run. For a Kannada movie, two weeks run is silver jubilee!
Spoiler Alert! The post, beyond this point, contains commentary on key plot elements that can spoil your movie watching experience! Proceed at own risk!
The story of U-turn revolves around a female journalism-intern, played by Shraddha Srinath, investigating the illegal U-turns taken by vehicles on the famous Double-Road flyover in Bangalore. With the help of a homeless old-man who lives on the flyover, she sets out to trace the violators and interview them in order to know the reasons behind their actions. Tragedy strikes when she becomes the prime suspect in an unnatural death case of a person whose house she had visited only to find an unasnwered door.
As the story unfolds itself in the form of police and journalistic investigations, a pattern evolves connecting the many similar deaths of people who were named in our journalist’s handbook as traffic violators. Our lady is trapped in the quick-sand and an enthusiastic Sub-Inspecto, played by Roger Narayan, is way too keen to help her get out of it. Her love interest, played by Dileep Rao, is also keen to help her but she trusts the SI more than her new boyfriend!
As the body count increases, the supernatural presence in the reels increase too. By the time you reach the climax, an average moviegoer would be 100% sure that the deaths are being caused by supernatural beings and not the mere mortals. The only thing that even the intelligent moviegoers may fail to guess is the reason behind THE supernatural being’s killing spree. So it’s a dead mother killing all those who moved that median on the flyover causing her death and of her daughter. And who’s the actual culprit? Not that it’s a big piece of mystery, but I’ll leave this one bit to be seen on the big screen.
U-Turn does a brilliant job as a thriller for most parts. The slick editing and the screenplay ensure that your brain comes out all messed-up. The cinematography and the background score are top-notch. The performances are brilliant especially that of Shraddha and Dileep.
The movie, however, isn’t flawless. Once you’re done with digesting all that you were fed, you start wondering what was on the menu! It poses as an intelligent thriller only to rely on a ghost to solve the jigsaw puzzle. I feel that the scriptwriter wrote the whole mystery when smoking pot and when he woke up the next day and read the script he just couldn’t solve the mystery. Eventually he fit in the ghost to solve it all.
The direction is not perfect either. In fact, Pawan Kumar had done a better job in drawing good performances from his actors in Lucia. Lucia also had well developed and well thought-out characters. U-Turn lacks that. Some characters are just unbelievable! I can’t believe that there’s a police station in India where not even a single cop is rude! I can’t digest a Sub-Inspector speaking English fluently with a pseudo-American accent. The ghost’s hubby overdoes his role. And the worst part of the movie is Dileep Rao’s character. I don’t even know why it was there! Dileep was credited as a lead actor in the movie, yet his role plays a very insignificant role in the main plot! He isn’t helping her! He isn’t seen for almost 45 minutes in the first hour! I’ve seen Dileep in the small screen. He is a brilliant actor. Pawan just wasted Dileep’s talent by not allowing his character to develop well in the story.
Despite all those flaws, U-Turn still leaves you with a good feeling. Although you’ll eventually laugh at the movie, the movie can bring a smile on your face few years down the lane. Because it’s a well packaged product. It’s for the modern cinegoer. It’ slick, intelligent and modern. It also assures me that good Kannada cinema is possible. Watch it!