Sapta Sagaradaache Ello - Side B
It is a Monday and the Monday blues have really kicked in after India lost to Australia to lift the ODI Cricket World Cup, something that resulted in a heartbreak. And talking of heartbreak, one of the most gut-wrenching experiences for me on celluloid this year has been watching the Kannada film Sapta Sagaradaache Ello -Side A. The film was one of the most profound love sagas this year that had me shattered in a million pieces while leaving me heart broken. And ever since I managed to watch Side A in a theatre in September, I was keenly awaiting the release of Sapta Sagaradaache Ello – Side B wherein the makers had promised a release date of 20th October’23 initially. But owing to a plethora of releases, the release date was rightly shifted to 17th November’23 and finally I got my chance to finish watching Side B. I was curious to know on what transpires in the lives of Manu and Priya and if anything had to go by the little glimpse of Side B that was attached to Side A, then things looked quite grim. But I just wasn’t ready to witness to what eventually transpired in Side B. So then does Sapta Sagaradaache Ello – Side B manage to impress, let’s find out.
Story & Screenplay
Set 10 years after the events of Side A, Sapta Sagaradaache Ello -Side B follows the story of Manu, now out of jail who wishes to rekindle his relationship with his sweetheart Priya. Will he be successful in doing so? The story here wasn’t exactly what I was expecting with regard to the tone of the drama, although there was a huge hint provided by the makers with the shifting shades of hues from Side A. But the story here was so well positioned and written that it yet again broke me in a million pieces especially with the character of Manu. The screenplay standing at 155 minutes might seem overwhelming with its runtime, but it accounted for a poetic yet provocative narrative that slowly slices into your heart before piercing through. Here I must say that Side A had a better coherence to the drama with Side B being a notch lower. But taking nothing away from the writing that managed to break me all over again. And this section will contain minor spoilers.
Set in 2021, the detailing with respect to the Covid times just hit home beautifully so. I must admit that it took me a good 10 minutes to settle into the drama, particularly due to its tonal change, something that I wasn’t entirely prepared for. So the soothing shades of blue from Side A began to switch colours to an intense red which was pretty much representative of Manu and his mindset with respect to his love for Priya, who was also not happy in her marriage. Red as you know is a provocative colour and that essentially was the tone of the drama, something that reminded me of the second half of the Anurag Kashyap directed Dev D that played with a similar sentiment. Now coming back to the initial 10 minutes that took me a while to settle in, this seemed to be a deliberate attempt by the filmmaker to allow the viewers a glimpse into the psyche of the protagonist which was hollow in many ways, having being broken over the past 10 years while also losing out on the love of his life. So when you as a viewer don’t feel a thing, it is symbolic of Manu who was going through a similar emotion!
How often have we seen that we hold onto our past that much more longer while not accepting the fact that things aren’t the same anymore. And that is reflective of Manu who wants to hold onto his love for Priya with a simple ambition to know on whether she still sings, a virtue that she had left long back while Manu was in jail. And it breaks him into a million pieces when he gets to know that, almost faulting himself for the mess of destiny that is created with respect to Priya. The quest here isn’t in finding Priya but to eventually find a way to get her to be with him again. And while clinging on to that thought, he meets Surabhi, a sex worker who falls for him soon yet Manu is never completely able to fall for her.
As you would know, a wharf of perfume reminds you of someone, often equating the other person with the physical traits or the characteristics which would be similar to your ex-flame. That is the kind of relationship that Manu shares with Surabhi. In an incredibly constructed scene, you see Manu talking to a mirror being held by Surabhi which was symbolic of his real life ambitions versus his reel life with Surabhi. He reunites with Priya one-day only to realise that he has been imagining, this while keeping an eye on his beloved from a distance. As they say, one can lose sanity in love, something that Manu begins experiencing with his attempt to murder the husband of Priya who has been fighting a battle of his own. This before better sense prevails while also forming a bond with Priya’s son(named Puneeth, a nice little homage to Puneeth Rajkumar), something that he feels is his own child.
The characters of Surabhi and the husband(of Priya) are only used as catalysts in the screenplay while the quest lies with Manu wishing to meet Priya for that one time while coaxing her back in singing. This purity in a love story is rare but the film slightly loses focus when it wishes to focus on the revenge angle between Manu and his inmate from Jail, Somu. That did blur the quest of Manu for me while making the drama a littke coherent. This was different from the revenge angle with his ex-employer which was organic and it didn’t start with the very sentiment. The screenplay is a little uneven in the second hour but the sense of incompleteness in the relationship between Manu and Priya is always there, and the writers tap into that beautifully in the events leading to the final act.
The final act did follow some predictable beats with respect to its conclusion including an incredible one-take action sequences with a static wide frame showcasing all the action that does transpire. Yet the conclusion was just so heartbreaking that it shattered me in a million pieces all over again. The idea of ending the drama at the sea was symbolic of the title of the film and it did shatter me all over again while completely leaving me to ponder on about Manu and Priya long after the film had ended. This was so refreshing from the standard Rom-Coms that have been made while just about tweaking an element here and there. This is an epic love saga of epic proportions that does leave you hollow and bleeding by the end of it. The screenplay is just so well written here and a worthy followup to Side A.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues tap into the right kind of emotions ranging from the softer ones that you witness either a part of a dream sequence or from a flashback, to the rugged aggressive undertones which is essentially the mood of the drama. Speaking of which, the music is just beautiful, highlighting the different pensive moods of Manu wonderfully well. To compliment it is its BGM, a soothing symphony that gently tugs the strings of your heart, just enough to make it bleed while balancing it with almost rock music that is more provocative in nature, much like was the case with Dev D featuring an amazing Amit Trivedi.
The cinematography is poetic in so many ways that captures a clear distinction between the life that Manu aspires for, versus what he gets in reality. The frames are wonderfully positioned with the lighting that wears a grim filter right throughout the narrative. The only times you see a soothing filter with a lighter shade is during a flashback or a dream sequence. The editing isn’t as crisp as in Side A with a little unevenness in the drama. But this is a minor technical flaw in an otherwise brilliant film. Director Hemanth Rao does an exquisite job in tapping into some of the provocative emotions of love. There is a sense of incompleteness and hope to the drama that play out through the film and these were so well balanced by the director. Also, he is seamlessly able to create moments which are poetic in many ways while highlighting the psyche of the protagonist. Overall, the direction is simply terrific in a brilliant job done to conclude this epic love saga.
The performances are incredibly good by a stellar ensemble cast. Gopalkrishna Deshpande and JP Tuminad are earnest and have their moments to shine. Ramesh Indra as Somu is intimidating and menacing in a wonderful job done. Chaithra J Achar as Surabhi is phenomenal to watch particularly because you do feel empathetic towards her character with respect to the treatment that she receives. But it also showcases the purity of love that she has for Manu. These were complex emotions being tapped into and Chaithra does a brilliant job in the most effortless manner. Rukmini Vasanth all of 3 films old(before Side B) is absolutely wonderful to watch as Priya in a brilliantly restrained act. Her vulnerabilities are on full display even as you get to know that she has been fighting a battle with herself, even as she comes to terms with the incompleteness of her relationship with Manu(symbolic of the fact that she doesn’t sing anymore). It was a beautiful portrayal of heartbreak without getting too carried away with it.
If I were to say that Rakshit Shetty is one of the finest actors that we have in our country at the moment, it won’t be wrong. Just like Rishab Shetty who had ruled 2022 with Kantara amd Raj Shetty in 2021 with GGVV, it is Rakshit who scores distinction marks with the character of Manu. Manu here is firm having imbibed pain for the last 10 years. And that very pain is reflected on his face right throughout the film. It became so gut-wrenching to watch Manu suffer day in and day out while wishing for that one thing in life that it made me break my heart every single time. His demeanor and body language was reflective of the hollowness within him in what was an acting masterclass of the highest order. Some of the inconsistencies of the writing in Side B were masked by a towering Rakshit Shetty in probably one of my favourite performances of the year!
Sapta Sagaradaache Ello – Side B is a provocative and heartbreaking conclusion to an epic love saga that comprises of epic proportions. After watching this saga, I have lost a part of me and I ain’t getting it back, while my heart is shattered to a million pieces all over again. Do not miss this! Available in a theatre near you and Highly Recommended!