Vijay Raghavendra has picked a nice little comedy-thriller to make his directorial debut. The original bilingual, which was made in Malayalam and Tamil (Neram), had a great run at the box office. And many of the cast and crew members went on to become big names in Malayalam and Tamil cinema.
The Kannada remake sticks faithfully to the original—if you haven’t watched Neram, Kismat might seem like a breath of fresh air but if you have, it will be like watching the same film with a change of faces and language. The movie isn’t completely disappointing, but it may have been better if it experimented a little more.
All the actors try their best to imitate the original cast members (Sangeetha Bhat’s performance is, however, disappointing; it lacks the effortless joy conveyed by Nazriya Nasim in Neram).
Kismat was in the making for almost five years, which means it was announced immediately after the original movie hit theatres. Didn’t the makers get enough time to alter the quirks of the characters? The moneylender (Nandagopal as Baddi Bhadhra) copies Vatti Raja’s (Bobby Simha from the original) mannerisms from the first scene to the last. The thick gold chains he wears, the cuss words he throws around at the people he gives money to, and even the thin moustache he sports are all inspired by Raja.
Here’s another example: the facial expressions of Vijay (Raghavendra) when he’s caught looking at another woman by his girlfriend Anupama (Bhat), in the song Preethiyallondhane Tharagathi, are the same as that of Nivin Pauly in the same scene from Neram. Raghavendra could have filmed that scene in many different ways, but didn’t. Was it the fear of trekking up an unknown hill that stopped him?
Sudeep, a dozen years ago, had also zeroed in on a remake to kick-start his directorial career (his Kannada film My Autograph was a remake of Cheran’s Tamil film Autograph). Will Vijay follow in the footsteps of Sudeep and direct mostly remakes? Only time will tell. When it comes to Kismat, though, time is the main player, for everything depends on it.
The soul of Kismat’s story lies in the mysteries of the butterfly effect. The lives of Vijay, Baddi Bhadhra, Anupama, Tower (Chikkanna as a thief), and Girish Shivanna (as an auto driver) are inter-connected, and the link is money.
Alphonse Puthren had stuffed Neram with some great twists and turns, and Raghavendra does his best to follow them.
Saikumar, who appears in the climax, is great fun to watch. The scene where he tries to sing in the hospital to put his injured brother to sleep is a hoot. His screen presence is difficult to match; and he dominates the screen even when he’s standing in a corner and not uttering a word.
Kismat may not be original but it doesn’t lose track of its vision. The dark comedy at its heart (with scenes like Vijay’s brother-in-law eating to his heart’s content and telling Vijay to pay the bill) is done well. And that makes it watchable.