Sunday, April 29, 2012

Kiccha: Starring Kiccha Sudeep.

[Image from a compilation of Kiccha Sudeep songs Kannadastore.com because I couldn't find a poster of Kiccha anywhere.]

I was first introduced to the wonderful Kiccha Sudeep in a charming Kannada film (that I recommend you seek out) called Mussanje Maathu. His lanky charm combined with his heartfelt performance as a radio DJ who needs direction in life was enough to make me add a few more of his films into my DVD shopping cart. And one of the batches of DVDs I ordered some time ago contained a copy of Kiccha Sudeep’s namesake film - Kiccha (2003).


According to wikipedia anyways, Kiccha was a SUPER HIT and I completely understand the appeal. Kiccha is a roller coaster ride of social commentary, dishoom, family melodrama, and political intrigue. I teared up within about 15 minutes of watching, cheered on Sudeep in his fights, chair-danced during the songs, and was shouting in disbelief at the end. All in all, while not mindblowing, it’s a nice solid masala film!

Although this was made almost a decade ago, watching in America in 2012, the story feels quite contemporary. Kiccha is the story of Kiccha (Sudeep), a normal boy who graduates from college only to find that... he can’t get a job. Dejected from failed job search after failed job search, he kicks around town with his pals and living off handouts from his mother (Sujatha). The first half of the film combines Kiccha’s slick courtship of young lady (Shwetha) with a series of vignettes centering on other people in tough circumstances who can’t find work. The second half of the film has Kiccha deciding to enter politics in order to do something about the problems he sees. There is also a comedy track, which actually provides a handful of real belly laughs. (A gag with a motorcycle and bottle actually made me laugh out loud.)

The film flows fairly well overall, though there is a bit of a post-interval slump where Kiccha really just gets mired in political maneuvering and the film falls into the trap of too much exposition and not enough action. However, things eventually come back together with a one-two punch of dishoom and item song. And once Kiccha has his mojo back, the rest of the film unfolds smoothly all the way to the final climax.

This may seem like fairly standard masala - and to a large extent it is - but the real standout part of Kiccha was the character of Kiccha himself. He’s a man with a complex sense of justice and relative morality. Early in the film we see how actions he would otherwise find reprehensible can be forgiven in context, the old “stealing is bad” vs “stealing a loaf of bread for a starving family is forgivable” conundrum. I really appreciated seeing these morality tales play out on screen and they were some of the most powerful parts of the film. And, yes, that complicated sense of justice and morality does come into play later on during the second half of the film.

Kiccha also has a big talent for misdirection and persuasion which also reveals itself early in the film during his courtship of his heroine. Kiccha seduces her while making her think it’s her idea... so it’s no surprise when he does the same thing to politicians later on.

What’s interesting about this to me is that the scriptwriter took the time to set up Kiccha with these traits pre-interval to let them loose in politics post-interval. Letting Kiccha look like a jackass on occasion because it was consistent to the character just shows a careful attention to detail that one doesn’t normally associate with masala and I really appreciated it. But then don’t we always appreciate the characters with personality flaws more than the shining heroes?

The heroine in this film was mostly just there for the songs but there was a female lead - Sujatha as Kiccha’s mother. She was another fascinating character. A strong-willed math teacher who loves her son but will put up with no nonsense from him. She doesn’t understand the angst of the younger generation and she has a much harder line on morality than Kiccha does. Perhaps Kiccha’s mother has the type of mathematical mind that can only see things in black or white...

All in all, Kiccha is definitely worth a watch if you’re in the mood for masala with a bit of a social message to it. Especially since that social message means it won't be getting remade into a Hindi potboiler anytime soon...

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