‘Kaatera’ movie review: Darshan powers Tharun Sudhir’s old-school commercial entertainer – The Hindu

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Updated – December 29, 2023 07:28 pm IST
Published – December 29, 2023 04:56 pm IST
Darshan in ‘Kaatera’. | Photo Credit: Anand Audio/YouTube
Kaatera is Darshan’s second film with Tharun Kishore Sudhir, and it’s quite apparent that the star enjoys working with the filmmaker. In Tharun’s films, Darshan’s performance feels like a smooth ride on a highway that often experiences the thrill of speed, with no hurdles to hamper its journey. And Kaatera is better than their maiden collaboration, Roberrt, for the former gives you more reasons to enjoy the high of commercial cinema.
The story is set in a time when feudal landlords ill-treated the farmers. The government’s land reforms act, under the leadership of Chief Minister Devaraj Urs, offers a ray of hope for the oppressed people, but the greedy Zamindars have a different plan. Kaatera (Darshan), a courageous and honest blacksmith, decides to fight the caste discrimination and save his people from the brutal landlords. 
Kaatera has moments backed by solid writing to call it a decent social drama. Tharun blends the plot’s serious concerns with a good dose of ‘masala’ entertainment. Like in Roberrt, he uses the Baasha-template. He introduces the hero as a soft-hearted, humble guy. Beneath that persona, we know there exists a fighter who can cut loose from his meek behaviour when the situation demands.
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Tharun makes us wait for the ‘hero’ to arrive. And when he does, the director unleashes his fan service in full flow. Tharun plays to the strengths of Darshan, and with cinematographer Sudhakar S Raj, he heightens the impact of a star vehicle by giving us one stylish frame after another, celebrating the actor’s strong screen presence. Kaatera does complete justice to Darshan’s towering personality, body language, menacing eyes, and powerful dialogue delivery. The seasoned V Harikrishna’s rousing background score is the icing on the cake.
Kaatera has just three action sequences, but Tharun’s inventive ideas for the fights keep us on the edge of our seats. With time, the director will only get better with his execution. The screenplay gives enough room for the ‘actor’ in Darshan to perform. Be it when Kaatera expresses his helplessness or inspires the farmers to revolt against injustice, Darshan is thoroughly convincing.
Aradhana Ram and Darshan in ‘Kaatera’. | Photo Credit: Anand Audio/YouTube
Tharun and co-writer Jadesh don’t lose track as they balance the commercial elements with plot points that back the farmer’s cause and condemn caste discrimination. Maasthi Upparahalli further enhances the writing with dialogues that neither make the characters appear too melodramatic nor give them a larger-than-life effect. The dialogues sound realistic, with enough meat to garner whistles.
Debutant Aradhana Ram (daughter of actor Malashree) excels in a role with substance. Kaatera might leave you a tad exhausted with a runtime of three hours; perhaps the film could have done away with one of the two duets. The other drawback is the film’s climax, which feels convenient.
Perhaps these are perils of an old-school commercial entertainer. But Kannada needs such simple, well-executed ‘masala’ potboilers to offer balance to the industry. Darshan’s Kranti, which was released at the start of the year, failed because it struggled to blend message with entertainment. Kaatera doesn’t repeat the mistake. The army of fans of the star, waiting in frustration and anticipation, can finally rejoice in relief.
Kannada cinema / Indian cinema / reviews
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