Sapta Sagaradaache Ello - Side A
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Kannada film Sapta Sagaradaache Ello – Side A(SSE – Side A) in a theatre near me. But before my review, I have got to thank Anmol for Tried And Refused Productions for putting this film on my radar. The reason being that the film wasn’t in my weekend watchlist as I wasn’t aware of its theatrical release date(although the film was keenly awaited). This generally doesn’t happen as I am quite aware of the theatrical releases pouring in over the weekend. But I am glad that a minor lapse at my end was averted!
This year has generally been a dim year for the Kannada Film Industry after an emmaculate 2022. One huge setback earlier in the year was Kabzaa which had tried to recreate the vibe of KGF. That should be a lesson learnt that if you try and make ‘similar’ films for a quick cash grab then the audience would reject it downright(applicable to all film industries). Yet, lately there is a minor fightback from the Kannada Film Industry in the last quarter with films like Daredevil Musthafa, Aachar & Co and Toby(to be watched by me). And quite honestly, this is where the expertise of the industry lies, in creating rooted stories which do tug the strings of your heart.
I am a huge fan of Rishab Shetty, Raj B Shetty and Rakshit Shetty, and their contribution to the Kannada Film Industry. There is a certain sense of assurance that their films provide in terms of the quality and you can almost go into the film blind without worrying on whether the film is good or not. And that was the beauty of discovering SSE – Side A without knowing quite on what to expect(I was encouraged but eventually did not watch its trailer). My faith in Rakshit Shetty coming off a splendid outing in the form of 777 Charlie was put to test yet again with SSE – Side A and I just knew somewhere deep within that he will score yet again. Only my second Kannada film that I have watched in a theatre since Kantara, does SSE – Side A manage to impress, lets find out.
Story & Screenplay
This is the section wherein I usually give a little premise about the film but I shall be keeping the plot of Sapta Sagaradaache Ello – Side A aka SSE – Side A under wraps. All you need to know that it is a love story and it is perhaps the most heartbreaking film that I have watched this year. The story has all the emotions in check wherein you find yourself unassumingly rooting for the couple while connecting with their journeys and the situations that they find themselves in. In other words, it is the most heartfelt love story that I have witnessed all year! The screenplay standing at about 140 odd minutes does make for a supremely compelling and painfully aching watch that will make for heart sear with pain. And just to put it out there, this film is divided into two parts – Side A which is out now, and Side B which is scheduled to release on 20th October!
The drama opens on a poetic note with a thread of blue hues being used to weave a piece of cloth which was almost representative of the relationship that the two protagonists share with each other. In an opening scene, the character traits of the two protagonists are beautifully laid out. Manu is a carefree guy who is willing to take risks in life, Priya keeps him in check with her practical approach to life wherein she can differentiate between right and wrong. The perceptions play a significant part in the drama wherein in the very next scene you get to know of the humble backgrounds of both the protagonists with one thing common – their love and respect for each other.
The writers do well in building a fascinating world which is contrasting in equal measures. On one side you witness the couple house-hunting with an intention of calling a tiny corner of the world their home. This includes a scenic world by the bay which is in stark contrast to the dimly lit portions of the city which is their reality. Yet, a life altering incident is introduced out of nowhere that sends their world in a tizzy with their relationship and bond put to test like never before. Here, I am resisting the temptation to reveal a crucial plot point which would classify as a major spoiler!
The proceedings are interesting and engrossing wherein the writers allow you room to invest in the journeys of the two leads. A voice inside my head was repeatedly saying to Manu, ‘No Don’t Do That, Please’ which meant that I was thoroughly invested in the drama. The writers create some situations which are excruciating while staying eerily close to reality with the portrayal of the place where the protagonist Manu, finds himself in. It was an extremely dark portrayal of reality that would make you stop and gasp for breath. This while his only hope was the love of his life with a hint of nostalgia in the form of a tape recorder and his cassettes.
The significance of the sea is beautifully represented throughout the film. And it also can be equated with the perceptions of the ‘sea’ of people that Manu finds around him. The events are aching wherein you long for the couple to unite while being well-versed with their reality that did paint a different picture. But the writers still create heartwarming moments that represented the bond between the two, so beautifully that your empathy is always with the couple. A heartbreaking turn of events in the dying minutes of the film coupled with a 30 second teaser of Side B(with the introduction of yellow hues) just hit home, making me all the more interested on how things would shape up, given the character dynamics that stand currently. This, while the screenplay highlights an important message that one moment of madness can spoil your life and relationships, just as one patch in the cloth by the use of thread can spoil the entire attire. Overall, the screenplay is so beautifully woven and it accounted for one of the most heartfelt dramas this year.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are beautifully heartfelt and gently tug the strings of your heart. There is a poetic outlook to the proceedings that is further accentuated by the lines. The music is melodious and simply wonderful, being representative of the different moods of the protagonists. The contrasting notes in the soundtrack were representative of the contrasting lives of the two protagonists that blend on the common grounds of love. The BGM enhances the impact of several scenes throughout its narrative. The cinematography wonderfully captures the essence of the drama through some wonderful frames. A huge shoutout to the art department was aptly using different shades through the narrative, be it the pale shades of the place where the protagonist resides in, or the elements of colour that represent hope in his life. The editing is outstanding while keeping the proceedings crisp and sharp. Director Hemanth Rao(his notable work in the Hindi circuit being screenplay writing in Andhadhun) does a magnificent job in constructing a heartbreaking love story with some wonderful character dynamics. He is also able to extract the right kind of emotions throughout its narrative that had me invested in the character, wonderfully so. The direction is simply outstanding here and a masterclass on how to construct a love story while keeping its emotions in check.
The performances are brilliant by the ensemble cast. Avinash as Shankar has his moments to shine in an endearing ‘grey’ character. The veteran Achyuth Kumar will make your blood boil through his subtle antics which meant a wonderful job done by him. Ramesh Indira is earnest and sincere as is Pavitra Lokesh. But the show undoubtedly belongs to the two protagonists – Rukmini Vasanth and Rakshit Shetty who are phenomenal as Priya and Manu respectively. The former has such expressive eyes that give a glimpse of her soul carrying mountains of pain within her with an element of uncertainty. The latter has a slow and simmering level of frustration building up inside him while being a purist at heart with respect to his love. They share such crackling chemistry with each other that the heartbreaking final act had me staring at the screen while the end credits began to roll. It was difficult to recover from the end!
Sapta Sagaradaache Ello – Side A is one of the most heartfelt romantic dramas that I have witnessed all year in perhaps the Best Kannada Film Of 2023! And I cannot wait for 20th October to arrive, bringing Side B with it. Available in a theatre near you and Highly Highly Highly Recommended!