Urbanization becomes the catchphrase of almost all state governments from last five years. Roads are the way of development and so are Highways, SEZ, bridge, fly over and innumerable toll booths are cornerstones of government’s shining signs of development aided by private construction lobbies. Here, this quite under noticed mainstream but socially concerning Kannada film critiques and deconstructs that very nature of development with land acquisition theme at central to its plot. It explores the lives of small villagers inhabited in the fertile lap of Mother Nature and how the new construction of highway brought displacement and struggle of survival to their lives. The film points the roles played by Government, politicians and corporate bodies in taking advantages of illiterate and helpless downtrodden people.
Narrated in flashback and present, the film in its central projects the life of its protagonist, Puttaka, a widow with a small child, who’s otherwise happy and content with whatever small farming earn her living in the village, just like other villagers. But fate has contrived insistently to disturb her life. The new private constructed highway snatches her land. Losing her livelihood, she starts struggling to protect her land. Guided by another wise and concerning villager, who has his influence in local government bodies, she ran from pillar to post, burning her money to prevent the inevitable. The film points speculations about the true nature of development.
Though the film is not barred from emotional melodrama and used multiple ingredients common to routine mainstream film, what makes it different is it finely manages to raise many pertinent questions and speculations about Government’s ‘development propaganda’. Though the area of villagers is regarded as green belt with fully fertile land but the powerful nexus of Government-Private partnership rounded it off to push their plan ahead. The ugly land acquisition nexus between state government and corporate tycoon is absolutely debatable issue. The film finely cqaptures the contrast in many of its frames- the struggling Puttaka walking on the road witnesses, the young yuppie couple happy in their AC car praising the state of art smooth highway as shining progress of their state. Urbanization and development at who’s cost and what for are the points to the film explored in many of it frames. The camera captures the eye candy natural landscape of Karnataka, unlike other mainstream cinema the purpose of it here is not attracting song-dance drama of lovesick hero-heroine but to project it as significant motif of Mother Nature slowly transformed into urban concrete unstoppable giant. The film mocks the role of media too. From the beginning of the film one can see the constant debate aired on private news channel about the role of development, questioning the protest to the chief minister and construction corporate CEO. And yet, we see its real face towards the end when we come to know that all they need is just extra bytes to record the emotional drama without any concern or seriousness to the issue.
The film stars Kannada cinema’s two mature actors. natural and finely poised Shruti as simple and rustic Puttaka ia aided by Prakash Raj with his trademark blending combination of humor and drama. He also produced the film, directed by B. Suresha. It won the National Award for Best Regional Film for the year-2011-12.