With ‘Lifeu istene’, Kannada film industry has joined the new breed of Indian films that are fresh, realistic and entertaining. After the bad press evoked by l’affaire Darshan across the country for Sandalwood in general, this is indeed good news for the industry. 
Lifeu istene poster
The directorial debut by Pawan Kumar is running to packed houses and it is not the urbane audience in Bangalore alone but those in smaller cities and towns that are also applauding the film. Its title translates roughly to “this is all that life is about”, approximating to the emphatic French “c’est la vie”. 
The premise is simple: the hero, hottie Diganth Shetty, keeps falling in love with a succession of girls. He feels each infatuation deeply as he is a decent chap at heart and not a womaniser. The story charts his growing up years and his weaning from the obsession with romance. Life is surprising and so is this film. I will not reveal all on the off chance that some of you, dear readers, might get to see it. 
Pawan has done justice to every character and has taken trouble to add nuances to each of them. The hero’s parents are lovable and ditsy, with the Mother encouraging the son to woo his love on Valentine’s Day. Pawan told me that they were the kind of parents he would have liked to have had. 

A still from the movie
It is mercifully free of hard-to-believe fisticuffs; even the mandatory dream sequence songs shot in picturesque Ladakh are done tastefully. 

I must confess that we only went to watch the film as we know one of the female leads, Samyukta. This young collegian essays a character that is pretty close to her real life. Her family is rooted in theatre and films; her grandmother Bhargavi Belawadi and mother Sudha act in TV serials, her uncle Prakash Belawadi is a director, actor (read my WordPress blog for my review of his recent play) and journalist, another uncle, Pradeep is an expert in lights. Her late grandfather Nani was legendary for his skills in make-up. 

Samyukta Belawadi
Her father MG Satya is the go-to man for shoots – be it films or tv commercials. He is the author of the Swades script. Samyukta carries the weight of this impressive pedigree lightly and has acquitted herself with ease in this first film. 
The film though belongs to the director; he has brought in unusual elements such as a quartet of musicians and dancers who appear at crucial times. The music is remarkable too, offering an amazing contrast with modern lyrics sung in the style of folksongs. 
Pawan was a theatre actor himself in Bangalore and Mumbai before switching over to filmmaking. After learning the ropes making corporate films, he started working with filmmaker Yograj Bhat. Pawan wrote the scripts for three films after which Yograj offered to produce a film that Pawan could script and direct. 

Director, Pawan Kumar
“I wrote and rejected four scripts; I know from experience that only a story that appeals to the youth can be successful. I got married last year and one day, my friends and I were reminiscing over the crushes that we had when were younger. Over time, those infatuations hardly seemed as devastating as they felt when they went wrong. This script grew from that conversation”. 

He admits to apprehensions before the release about the movie going over people’s heads. Weeks after, this happy man said to me, “I don’t think that film makers need to dumb it down for the Kannada film audience anymore”.

Now if he only sub-titles it and sends it across the country, he might be equally pleasantly surprised with the reaction. He feels that Kannada filmdom might oppose the move to have English sub-titles; I wonder why. In fact in a cosmopolitan city like Bangalore, it would spur people to understand and learn Kannada. To argue my point, I only need to point to Hindi films and songs that do far more to teach the language than lessons in school.

Sandhya Mendonca 
Sandhya Mendonca writes a weekly column for Herald Goa. View the story on Herald on the link below