Kurukshetra movie cast: Darshan, Ambareesh, Arjun
Kurukshetra movie director: Naganna
Kurukshetra movie rating: 3 stars
As a 90s kid, I grew up watching the best big-screen adaptations of Mahabharata. Over the years, many have mimicked but never equalled the achievements of acting legends Dr Rajkumar, NT Rama Rao and Sivaji Ganesan in the mythological genre.
The filmmakers in the 70s were unburdened by the technological advancements of the film industry. They just focused on whipping up extraordinary scripts drawing on the richest mythological text that the world has ever produced. The filmmakers at the time doubled down on the drama and relied on its actors to deliver timeless classics.
Even while watching the latest Mahabharata-themed film Kurukshetra, you can’t help but compare it with earlier classics. Is Darshan’s performance as Duryodhana as powerful as NTR’s in Daana Veera Soora Karna? Can Sonu Sood match Rajkumar’s screen presence, elegance and acting as Arjuna in Babruvahana? Will Arjun be able to live up to the tall order set by Sivaji Ganesan as Karna (Karnan)? If you have seen these films, then, like me, it takes a lot more than a 3D format to satisfy your hunger pangs for an epic mythological drama.
Director Naganna’s Kurukshetra is based on legendary poet Ranna’s Gadhayuddha. The film opens with a grand song shot on a scale that would match the grandiose image of Duryodhana. And without wasting any time, the film gets to the first of many conflicts that eventually lead to the legendary war of Kurukshetra.
The first half of Kurukshetra suffers from uneven pacing. However, the second half holds well, thanks to a series of action set pieces. The warriors bring down the skies, hollow out the surface, rain down hellfire and shake the universe amid the raging Kurukshetra war. Some sequences are a throwback to old movies where a snake arrow was countered with an eagle arrow. A fire-spitting arrow was tackled by the arrow that sprinkles water.
The entry of Nikhil Kumaraswamy as brave but reckless Abhimanyu brought the much-needed cheer to the audience in the cinemas. It is mainly because of the viral social media campaign ‘Nikhil yellidyappa’ and the actor’s recent political debut.
Kurukshetra could have benefited from better writing. It seems Naganna paid more attention to the visuals than the piece of literature. The film feels like a teacher reading out a poem to students without explaining and analysing its deeper meaning. That said, the film is worth a watch just alone for the sense of nostalgia it invokes in us.