India vs England movie review: Nagathihalli Chandrashekar traces history in his inimitable style
Nagathihalli Chandrakshekar remains faithful to his kind of filmmaking and this film will appeal to viewers who have been following his work
It has been three decades since director Nagathihalli Chandrashekar started his directorial journey, but the filmmaker has not forgotten his roots. Irrespective of the genres he has handled, the veteran has always made sure that his films carry the essence of Indian pride, patriotism, and love for the Kannada language and cross-cultural differences, which is blended perfectly with the story. After Nanna Preethiya Hudugi, Paris Pranaya, and the evergreen America America, the latest to fall in this bracket is India vs England.
For those watching a Nagathihalli film for the first time, the title might be an attraction, given it seems to be connected to a cricket match. But the film is more than just a game. The story discusses our history and takes our mind to the British Raj. But all of it comes with a ‘diamond’ twist that makes this Nagathihalli film a romantic thriller.
Nagathihalli’s daughter, Kanasu, has penned the story. She has retained her father’s passion for travelling and blogging in the film, and this is showcased through Kanishka (Vasishta Simha), an NRI whose parents (Sumalatha and Prakash Belawadi) are staunch Kannadigas living in the UK.
Kaniska’s profession as a vlogger connects him to Bagiratha (Anant Nag), a gemologist living in the interiors of Malnad. The latter asks his granddaughter, Medini (Manvitha Kamath), to help Kanishka explore India. Though both are initially constantly at loggerheads and can’t stand each other, the travel brings them closer together, and romance blossoms. Medini expresses her wish to marry Kanishka, and both fly back to England to get the consent of the latter’s parents to get married.
However, just when the D-Day arrives, Medini leaves for India, without even leaving a note. A worried Kanishka comes to India, only to find out the real cause. Here, he is shocked to learn that her grandfather considers him a smuggler. The reason is a ‘precious diamond’, which was stolen from a British museum, and lands at Bhatkal in Karnataka. Will Vasishta try to prove his innocence, and find out who is the real culprit?
How this diamond traces the history between India and British is told through the voice of Puneeth Rajkumar, which indeed reveals a few facts about our past. A lot of homework goes into Nagathihalli’s films, and, through this film, the avid reader brings attention to the lost treasures such as artifacts, antiques, and precious stones of Indian origin, the ownership of which is now claimed by the British.
All of it makes for an interesting watch for the entire family. But for the cross-culture connect and the diamond in the picture, India vs England is a formulaic story of a hero overpowering the villains, and how he struggles to win his girl’s love. It has the director’s signature style of filmmaking, which he has followed right from his first film. Without going overboard, Nagathihalli, who has written the screenplay, highlights the simple dialogues, which also becomes a key point. The first half establishes the cultures of the two countries, while the second comes with more than a couple of twists and turns.
Coming to Vasishta Simha — well, give him a character and he knows how to justify it. The actor, who portrays someone with traditional values but a modern outlook, has tried to bring in variations with his look, body language, and emotions. He is loved for his baritone voice, and he has worked to get a British accent here. Overall, it might take a couple of more films for the audience to settle for his newfound avatar.
Manvitha Kamath has more to do than just songs, dance, and romance, and her character brings in the twist. The diamond is actually a key character in the film, and Anant Nag’s presence is an eye-opener. Sumalatha, as the leader of the Kannada Sangha Community, and Prakash Belavadi as a doctor both get prominence. Some fun is sprinkled through Sadhu Kokila, who works for a don played by Shivamani, and one can see negative traits in his character.
Music director Arjun Janya has given a couple of good melodies. The film spans several places across India and England, and one can see a lot of variations in cinematography as the film has three DOPs — Will Price, Satya Hegde, and AV Krishnakumar.
Even with changing times, Nagathihalli Chandrakshekar, the Mestru of Sandalwood, has been consistent in his style and remains faithful to his kind of filmmaking. This will, of course, appeal to viewers who have been following the director’s work, and who like his kind of cinema.