When regional films from India are dubbed in Hindi, it runs the risk of being lost in translation. Rousing dialogues that stir and strike you in the gut in the original loses its teeth when spoken in another language.
Kannada blockbuster KGF: Chapter 1, starring Yash as the all-conquering hero Rocky, a mercenary-turned-miners saviour, succumbs to that pitfall.
Dialogues by the hero such as “If you think you are bad, then I am your dad” or “Rocky is like fire and his enemies are his petrol. The more enemies he burns, the stronger his embers” sound downright cheesy when you see it in its Hindi version. However, if you can overlook those cringe-worthy moments, then you are likely to enjoy KGF: Chapter 1, touted as Kannnada’s costliest film with a budget of Rs80crores.
The sweeping gangster drama directed by Prashanth Neel— set in the 1980s against the grim backdrop of mining and exploitation of its workers — opens on a predictable note. A young boy from the streets emerges as a dreaded criminal, Rocky. He’s the kind of all-conquering hero that can demolish and obliterate his opponents with his brute strength. He’s broodingly dark and takes pride in his silence.
One kick from this strapping lad and half a dozen ruffians go flying in all directions. The word on the street is that he rose to the top by obliterating a string of dons and gangsters that controlled Mumbai’s gold smuggling ring. His quest to be at the top of his dirty game lands him in the Kolar Gold Fields in Karnataka where he stumbles upon thousands of slaves who are forced to work in inhumane working conditions. The saviour in him is born and his conscience is kicked and prodded alive.
Actor Yash has an arresting screen presence and his abundant facial fuzz seem to have a personality of their own. The flying hair and his well-sculpted torso are given a lot of screen time in this coal-drenched tale of redemption and retribution, while his foreboding stature is communicated by his cronies who are in awe of him in this film.
While the first half is predictable and engulfs you with a been-there-seen-that feeling, it’s the second half that holds your attention. Be warned, that this is one film where actors who are subtle don’t exist. The villains snarl and speak in bombastic language about revenge and blood shed, while the oppressed are painfully melodramatic. The scenes that show Yash courting Srinidhy Shetty, a gangster’s bratty daughter, and their blossoming romance was a disturbing display of male toxicity. Fortunately, those scenes are sparse. What works for this film is that it ends on a cliff hanger.
However, it takes time to come into its own. The first chapter about the birth of Rocky, his rebellion and redemption isn’t a swift saga. With a running time of over 160 minutes, KGF is a film that takes time to strike a spark in the viewer’s heart - especially if you are watching the dubbed version.
Film: KGF: Chapter 1 (Hindi)
Language: Hindi version
Director: Prashanth Neel
Cast: Yash, Srinidhy Shetty and Anant Nag
Stars: 2.5 out of 5