Ever-changing Bengaluru is backdrop for new film

In the latest feature film 'Bengaloored', city-based independent filmmaker Swaroop Kanchi uses the transforming face of Bengaluru to tell the personal story of an author.

If you go with expectations to see a movie about Bengaluru, you are going to be thoroughly disappointed. Even as the feature film titled ‘Bengaloored’ may seem misleading to the regular movie-goer, director Swaroop Kanchi says the city is merely a backdrop in this story about a man and the changes in his life. (Read Citizen Matters’ interview with Swaroop Kanchi here)

‘Bengaloored’ is about an author, Babruvahana or Babbu, who returns to the city from France after ten long years. With a lot of changes in his personal life, the film is about Babbu’s struggles and his journey to self-rediscovery. Babbu, an author, is also looking to write the ending of his novel. When he returns to his hometown Bengaluru, he finds it a changed place. Not only has the city changed, but also his friends, family and the love of his life.

scene from Begaloored

A scene from ‘Bengaloored’. Pic courtesy: www.bengaloored.com

But the movie fails miserably in its attempt to show the travails of this young man. The protagonist Babbu (played by Harish Raj) doesn’t really hold your attention with his acting which is not quite up-to-the-mark. The lengthy scenes between him and his love interest Radha (played by Meghana) leave you restless and bored. Radha’s character, however, seems better-sketched.

Kanchi himself plays a role in the film, that of Siddharth, Babbu’s friend from school, who later becomes a monk. Kanchi’s acting is a bit unusual as he constantly looks at the ground while talking, drawing circles with his feet.

None of the performances are engaging, especially the characters of Ramana (played by Srinivasa Raju) and Babbu’s father.

There’s probably just one scene in the movie that is worth a laugh and that is when Babbu finds a pack of beedis in Radha’s bag. When he asks her why she has them, she says she is forced to buy them for her mother secretly. More sprinklings of such scenes would have definitely made for better viewing.

The filmmaker has however tried to bring in the changes that Bengaluru itself is going through and connect it to that of Babbu’s personal journey. A case in point is that of road widening wherein a BBMP official comes to Babbu’s house (he lives in his ancestral house) and tells him to give up his property as the road is going to be widened to make way for a six-lane corridor. The official very poignantly tells Babbu, “You can never stand still in Bangalore. You must always keep moving”.

As much as the film isn’t about the city, the film doesn’t engage you in Babbu’s own journey either, partially because of the robot-like dialogue delivery and the dismal performance by Babbu himself.

The saving grace of ‘Bengaloored’ is the music. Vasu Dixit (of the music band Swarathma) debuts as music director with this film and also features in the first track ‘Ellhogali Shivane’. The song sums up the changes in Bengaluru, where filter coffee has become capuccino and the local kaka shop has become the neighbourhood mall.

Director: Swaroop Kanchi
Cast: Harish Raj, Meghana, Srinivas Raju
Music: Vasu Dixit
Producers: Swaroop Kanchi, Pradheep Raju
Now playing at Vision Cinemas – 4 pm & 7 pm
For details visit http://bengaloored.com/ and http://swaroopkanchi.com/

Unfortunately, you barely get to enjoy the music in the film as it has been used rather sparsely.

The film’s attempt can be well-appreciated but a larger part of it leaves you restless and squirming in your seat. It doesn’t really strike a chord on any level.

The film may have actually worked if it were only about the transforming city. Also better dialogues, a tighter script and (maybe) a different lead actor would have saved this film.


Meet the man behind ‘Bengaloored’

Twenty-six year old Swaroop Kanchi, is a Bangalore-based filmmaker. Born and brought up in Bengaluru, primarily in the areas of Malleshwaram and Sadashivnagar, Kanchi has been making films since the age of 16. A student of design, he has had no formal training in filmmaking and calls himself a ‘self-taught filmmaker’. An avid tennis player, Kanchi never dreamt of becoming filmmaker. “I enjoyed creativity. When I got into filmmaking, it was magic”, he says.

Swaroop Kanchi

Swaroop Kanchi, 26, is a Bangalore-based filmmaker. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

He has previously made films including ‘The End’, ‘Deja Vu’, ‘Something Taboo’, ‘Hong Kong Dreaming’ and so on. He has worked both in India and as well as abroad making international films.

In his free time, Kanchi enjoys hanging out with friends, writing and designing websites. “I like to keep the creative juices flowing”, he says.

About Bangalore, the ever-changing city, Kanchi says he loves coming back after periods of travel and get shocked by the changes the city has undergone. “But it’s home”, he is quick to add. An only child, he lives in Sadashivnagar with his parents.

Citizen Matters spoke to Kanchi about his latest film ‘Bengaloored’ and why he chose to make the movie. Here are excerpts from the interview.

What is ‘Bengaloored’ about?

It is about an author Babruvahana. A lot is changing in his personal life. It’s about his struggles and journey of self-discovery.

Why the title ‘Bengaloored’?

With the name change from Bangalore to Bengaluru, other things also changed. When I went out and came back, I was told that it was now Bengaluru. It was suddenly changed. In a way I felt Bengaloored. As a citizen I felt it was done without my consent. But things change and you have to accept that.

Why did you decide to make this film?

I made a film called ‘Hong Kong Dreaming’, a very city-centric film. When I was doing the film, I was thinking of Bangalore. Here the transformation hasn’t happened yet. But in Hong Kong it already has. It was running in my head. I travelled often and came back (to Bangalore), something had changed. It was like the demise of an old city. Like India Coffee House had closed. I didn’t even know it had shifted. I wanted to bring these ideas together and put in my own thoughts and make a film.

The city is just a background. The movie is about one author. The audience expect to see Bangalore. But I’m getting responses that they are seeing themselves, which is good. At the end of the day, the city is non-living. It’s the people that make the city.

What is your perception of the changes taking place in Bengaluru?

Even in the movie we talk about this. I don’t want to be judgemental. Change is inevitable. It happens. You accept it or hold on to the past. You do feel bad when trees are felled. If you can do something about it, you will. If you have commitment, you can bring change.

Swaroop Kanchi

Kanchi says that each time he returned to the city, he was shocked by the changes that were taking place. Pic courtesy: www.swaroopkanchi.com

Did you learn something new about the city while filming?

I am a North Bangalore guy. I was born and brought up in Malleshwaram and Sadashivnagar. I haven’t trvalled to south Bangalore much. But for the film I spent more time in south – Brahmin’s cafe, Vidyarthi Bhavan, I interacted with the people in these areas. I started looking at the details.

Why did you choose to make the film in English?

I am comfortable in English. I write in English. I’m independent. I’m not from the industry. Also, a lot more people can watch the film. I’m taking it to the US and other countries.

What kind of an audience is this film for?

When I make a film, I don’t think of an audience. I want to tell a good story. All kinds of audience – college kids, senior citizens – it’s not connecting only with a certain age group.

How have you marketed the movie?

Online media seems to have been the best. Social networking and so on. It reaches a certain audience. This was not there three or four years back. I also used television, radio and newspapers. But no matter how much you do it’s not enough. Word-of-mouth is the best.

What are the responses you are getting from the audience?

I didn’t expect much. Overall, it’s been superb reaction. I have good reviews in the press also. It’s unexpected.

The movie has been released in other cities like Mumbai. How easy was it with a title like ‘Bengaloored’?

The distributors were wary. We had preview shows for them. It’s about people and emotions. It’s not limited to a demography.

‘Bengaloored’ was released in the city on July 2nd 2010. Kanchi eventually plans to release the movie through DVD and on television.

Is there a future for city-centric films?

Definitely, I do think there is a future. In one film, you can only talk about a certain number of things. You can’t cover a gamut of thing. There are also issue-based films.

What are your plans next?

Right now I want to do nothing. But I have a few scripts. But I have no idea what will happen next. Let’s see.

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