White Guy Watches Bollywood

A random white guy engages with contemporary Indian cinema... one movie at a time

Hemanth M. Rao

Kannada Movie Review: Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Side A) feels like the beginning of something big for the classical romantic drama

Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth star in Hemanth M. Rao's "Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Side A)," here reviewed by White Guy Watches Bollywood.

With the tragic romance seemingly deemed out-of-vogue by Hollywood and Bollywood alike, Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Side A) stands a powerful announcement that the Kannada film industry may be here to fill the void. There’s a certain classical timelessness to the movie’s approach to romantic storytelling that registers as a feeling, right from the start. We’re introduced to the focal couple in the midst of a squabble that only goes on to underscore the way they perfectly complement each other. But there’s also a deep foreboding: as Manu (Rakshit Shetty) speeds down the road in his employer’s expensive Mercedes while Priya (Rukmini Vasanth) begs him to slow down – think of how many years of salary he would owe if he totaled the vehicle! – we know in our bones that this trip is headed towards an ominous destination. There’s a lump in our throat well before we even know why.

But the movie also departs from tradition where it counts. In the early going, we’re spared the long-winded and conventional romantic backstory in favor of smaller, tenderer moments that bring us into the relationship. There’s no meet-cute, no quirky foreplay – just human glimpses of a young couple navigating an authentic (albeit still cinematically heightened) lower-middle-class reality. It’s hard not to get invested in the two of them early on (even as he makes some classically bad decisions). Manu works as a driver for a wealthy family, while Priya is in her final year of school but fantasizes about becoming a famous singer. Shopping for an apartment, they one day decide to pose as a much more well-to-do couple and tour a lavish penthouse, lingering on the balcony together and dreaming of a prosperous future. She yearns to one day have the means to buy a home by the sea, where she grew up, but she’s also perfectly content with the more modest life that they’re building.

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