Kalidasa Kannada Mestru Movie Review: A wake-up call for the entire country about the state of our education system
A timely film, which will come in handy for parents whose children are preparing for exams
"Amma, appa, I want to catch butterflies, fly kites, play with friends, climb trees, swim, get drenched in the rain. But you never allowed me to do all of this. Whether it’s school or home, it is always about studies. Am I living only to study? Can’t I do what I like? I am sorry, amma, appa. I will not come home."
These lines, written by a character named Rajat in his Chemistry exam paper, summarises the conflict between a child’s dreams and the reality of the education system in our country. Building on this core theme and taking a cue from a real-life incident, director Kaviraj highlights some burning issues — the closure of Kannada schools in favour of English-medium schools, the importance of one’s mother tongue, and people’s obsession with English.
The satirical film brings to the fore the dilemma that exists in a small family bringing up a child. Issues such as the parents’ struggle for admission, children torn between school classes and tuition, increasing pressure to be the topper in class, the conflict between a child’s dreams and parents’ aspirations, reality and beliefs, family obligations and society’s expectations, are all touched upon.
Cast: Jaggesh and Meghana Gaonkar
The story revolves around Kalidasa (Jaggesh), a teacher in a Kannada medium school. The number of students at the school keeps reducing by the day, as parents start enrolling their children in English medium schools instead. When Kalidasa tries to stop them, they ask him whether he will set an example by enrolling his son in a Kannada medium school. But Kalidasa’s wife, Suma (Meghana Gaonkar) wants her son to study in the best English medium school in the city. Kalidasa, who has no choice but to go with his wife’s wish, manages to find Rs 7 lakh for the school admission. While Suma is happy, Kalidasa lands at the police station.
While the first half entertains with its comical undertones, the second half takes a more serious tone. Major twists come when Kalidasa’s life goes haywire. These lead him to start a protest, demanding a change in the education system. He gets the public's support, and the ensuing drama mirrors the current education scenario in the country.
Director Kaviraj touches upon a few other relevant topics as well, but keeps the focus clear. The former lyricist's dialogues strike a chord and the one-liners leave the audience in splits. However, the episode that talks about media attention, which seems to have become almost a mandatory scene in nearly all films, looks cliched.
Jaggesh is apt as Kalidasa and the actor, known for his unique comedy act, has given an all-round performance. The character allows Jaggesh to be himself — a pro-Kannada person who is vocal about issues. Meghana Gaonkar gets a pivotal role and she does justice to it. The rest of the cast, including the senior actors, make the right impact.
Kalidasa Kannada Mestru ends with a thought — educate children, but do not punish them. It is a timely film, which will come in handy for parents whose children are preparing for their exams.