Kantara OTT Review - A Mythological Masala that works all right but ought to have been more impactful
Kantara follows the quintessential Indian masala template to a T. It checks almost all the boxes. An angry young man as the hero, a heroine whose physical attributes are leered by the camera through the POV of the hero, an oppressor villain, comic sidekicks, mother sentiment and twists. All these are packed in a typical good vs evil battle. The USP of the film is of course the mythical or mythological flavour that is made with a lot of fervour. But Rishab Shetty packs in these predictable elements rather well and what really works is that despite predictability, all these elements are packaged through characters that are very much part of the core movie.
The initial few minutes of the film really pulls you in. You may or may not relate to the kind of subject on screen, but Rishab Shetty successfully makes you buy into the world of Kantara. There is a certain loudness but there is also a certain subtleness. The subtleness is what elevates the loudness and makes it click whenever the film goes into that zone. There is a palpable tension for most of the time. You always have the feel that something is going to erupt at any point of time. The acting all around is pretty solid. The film sort of starts to feel a bit long towards the second half. The predictable expose of the villain and what immediately follows is a downer. Say for instance in Rangasthalam. You were really rooting for the hero to go after the bad guy. Here, that emotion is a bit muted and most of our reaction to the climax showdown has to do with the performance and the presentation. (I saw the film on OTT which has the tweaked version of Varaha Roopam). The betrayal of the villain doesn't really hit you as hard as it ought to have. We don't spend much time with a crucial character whose murder drives the film towards the climax. Worst still, the villain is sort of reduced to a caricature fooling around with a gun during the climax. What is the point of showcasing the villain as shrewd and cunning all the while, when he is going to be reduced to this in the final leg of the film. Hence the payoff itself did not really work well for me.
Visually the film is terrific. It is rich, colourful but also never completely over the top. The sense of eeriness is also well captured.
This is another film that normalizes the creepy behaviour of the hero. He keeps violating the heroine physically without consent. Even if we assume that they have a history before the events of this film and she is sort of fine with his behaviour, how is it fine that he casually peeps without her knowledge when she is bathing.
On OTT, Kantara was a satisfying masala watch. A theatre watch possibly could have been more gratifying. Had the villain remained powerful and shrewd towards the climax, the film could have been way more impactful.