Gandhada Gudi Movie Review: When nature brought Appu back
With Gandhada Gudi, we not only celebrate the nature, but smile along with Appu, who once again proves his immense screen presence
The much-awaited Gandhada Gudi is out, but it comes carrying a mixed bag of emotions and a lot of memories of the beloved Puneeth Rajkumar. The film takes us on a journey into the wild along with him. As it progresses, we not only celebrate the nature, but smile along with Appu, who once again proves his immense screen presence.
By every means, Gandhada Gudi feels like a chance to relive his memories and form an unexplainable and magical relationship with him. The docu-drama begins on an emotional note with Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar, (who makes her first appearance on the big screen), saying, “Obba sanna huduga, ondu rare hoovigoskara kaadella odadata cinema Bettada Hoovu.” (A small boy enters the forest in search of a rare flower in the film Bettada Hoovu) She recalls Appu’s journey as a child actor in the shadows of his legendary father Dr Rajkumar and his subsequent rise to fame.
Director: Amoghavarsha J. S.
Cast: Puneeth Rajkumar, and Amoghavarsha
Gandhada Gudi was a dream project for Appu. Two days before his demise, he had even posted about the film on social media and was curiously waiting to make a formal announcement about the project to the world. But fate had other plans.
Accompanied by filmmaker and wildlife photographer Amoghavarsha, the docudrama is nothing short of visual poetry set in the backdrop of the deep woods. Leaving the ‘Powerstar’ image aside, Appu is a natural on screen. Setting him alongside nature only adds a lot of flavour to this transcendental journey. The expedition begins at Nagarahole where Amoghavarsha started his photography journey 20 years ago.
At the World Tiger Reserve, the award-winning photographer fulfils an excited Appu’s dream of getting close to elephants, tigers, deer, and langurs. It is hard to forget Dr Rajkumar family’s bond with the forest, and Appu recalls all of it in his father’s hometown, Gajanuru. “If you meet someone from Chamarajanagar, they still address Annavru as Devaru,” he says. The 1973 film, Gandhada Gudi starring Rajkumar was one of India’s first films on forest conservation. Later came Gandhada Gudi Part 2, starring Shivarajkumar. And now, a completely new iteration, with Appu.
From Nagarahole, the film moves to Annavra’s town Gajanur, BR Hills, the Deccan region, Tungabhadra river, Malenaadu, and Patagudi among many other locations rich in flora and fauna. Through the journey, Puneeth and Amoghavarsha inform us about the existence of various species, the beauty of the Western Ghats, the vast coastline, and the hills. They even talk about the Kali river, the elephant enclosures, (Sakrebailu, Shivamogga)and scuba diving at Netrani island. Apart from the travel, Appu also imparts a message on conservation and discusses various issues connected to nature. He makes a point about the usage of plastic and its harmful effect on wildlife.
While Puneeth explores the wild, Amoghavarsha gets to know the person that Appu is. The two come up with interesting conversations about life in forests. Both of them are good conversationalists. At one point, Appu shares that he speaks what others want to remember. He recounts his memory as a child actor in Bhakta Prahalada, and why he was afraid of snakes. “There is a scene in the film, where I have a snake around my neck. The snake’s breath is still fresh in my ears,” he says.
The best part of the film is Appu being himself carrying his much-adored simplicity. He eats with shepherds in their huts and eagerly listens to their stories.
With picturesque locales, all captured in natural light, Gandhada Gudi is an applaudable effort from cinematographer Pratheek Shetty. He manages to capture the best moments of Appu in the forest along with spectacular visuals. Ajaneesh Loknath’s background music gives the much-needed cinematic
elevation to the fulfilling journey in the wild.
The lasting image of a smiling Appu on screen might be the big takeaway from the film, but team Gandhada Gudi ensures that we also take back the core message of this ambitious project and reminds us of the richness of our own nature.