Happy Birthday, Rangi Taranga!

A Prosaic Ode to Rangi Taranga. Soak in the magic of the colourful wave that is now Kannada cinema.

Rangi Taranga heralded the advent of a vibrant wave in Kannada cinema. A year later, it is still ‘running’ to packed audiences in some theaters in Bengaluru. Word among the local population goes, ‘Rangi Taranga nodidira? Sakkath cinema ri!’ Roughly translated, ‘Have you watched Rangi Taranga? Awesome movie!’ If answered in the affirmative, a discussion ensues, punctuated by fervent nods of approval, and expressions that say more than words. If time permits, the conversation continues over ‘Vada- Sambar’ at the ‘Darshini’ just around the corner. After a few glorious mouthfuls of crisp ‘vada’ that has begun to lose its identity while languidly soaking in the tangy ‘sambar’, washed down by gulps of aromatic ‘by two’ coffee, the movie aficionados exchange numbers and promise to meet at a convenient ‘circle’ or park soon.

However, as is the case in any city, lack of time or inclination might prove an impediment in the life of a ‘busy’ person and then, the derision that spills over, poisoning the air, is palpable. ‘Yaak ri nodilla? Yaavaaglu, kelsaneynaa?’ Again, translated it means, ‘Why haven’t you watched it? All the time, is it only about work?’ More diatribe follows. To summarize the denunciation, it involves asking the culprit as to why he/she is a snob, avoiding all things of the local flavour, and how dare a self-respecting Kannadiga not watch such a wonderful movie, and thinly veiled jibes at lack of loyalty and finally a leading question, ‘Did you watch Baahubali? Sarrainodu? The Conjuring 2?’

Woe betide the perpetrator if the answer is in the affirmative. The ensuing harangue is about how it is people’s fault that they are not patrons of good local cinema but always try follow up on what is produced by the rest of the country and the world.

The meeting almost certainly ends with the local traffic policeman being called in to ensure that traffic moves, for, believe me, a few pedestrians will join in the discussion, and a few passersby on their two-wheelers will park themselves nearby to denounce the wrongdoer and launch into raptures of how the movie is a must watch, not once but many times. The people insulated in their air-conditioned cars will throw wistful glances at the crowd, wishing they could alight and participate, if only parking were not such a problem. Colourful snatches of invective will percolate through the crowd and fall into each delighted ear. Who doesn’t want a little drama in their life?

This article isn’t a review of Rangi Taranga. Anybody can get that online. After all, the movie has been running in theatres since June, 2015. It is now June, 2016. So, Happy Birthday, Rangi Taranga! One year old and still going strong. The shows are packed to the maximum limit and the public is getting its money’s worth. This article is about celebrating a milestone in Kannada Cinema- Namma Kannada Cinema that has come of age.

Rangi Taranga creates this canvas that every Kannadiga can take pride in. The locales, for instance. The lens of the camera breathe new life into each frame, bringing visuals to life, almost like the real thing. Most of the movie has been shot in the state itself, weaving local art and culture with a story that has unexpected twists and turns. It has strong characters and a great plot. The music is refreshingly melodious and powerful.  Throw in enigma, missing characters, a wonderful lead couple and a beautiful and persistent lady journalist into the fray and sparks are bound to fly.  The thespian Sai Kumar, who has such wonderful and powerful screen presence and an inimitable baritone adds such colour to Rangi Taranga that one is left weak-kneed and breathless at his unrivalled performance. A great dose of Yakshagana, mystery, suspense and mind games later, the movie comes to its end, leaving the audience in a state of bliss, having been intellectually stimulated for the past two hours or so. The movie is clean. Cleaner than the ads you have for soaps and detergents. Don’t dare grumble about the editing not being crisp enough. It’s ‘paisa vasool’ anyway!

Rangi Taranga depicts all things Kannada in such glorious light and detail that it becomes an unconventional metaphor for namma minching swag, seasoned with delectable local flavour, that can be highlighted with pride. The average Kannadiga is familiar with at least five different languages and watches movies of these languages without the need for subtitles. Rangi Taranga holds its own with great aplomb, among the other movies in different languages. It forges cultural identity and redefines Kannada Cinema.

Following Rangi Taranga, a spate of great cinema has now hit the screens! To name a few, set your sights on Thithi, U-turn and Godhi Banna Sadharana Mykattu, with the charismatic veteran actor Anant Nag. One only wishes that local multiplexes have more screens showing these movies.

So what are you waiting for? The official CD to be released? The movie to be beamed on satellite television? No Way! Perish the thought! Nothing compares to the big screen. Get your lazy self up and make a dash to the theatre. Take your family along. Soak in the magic of the vernacular.

You won’t regret it.

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