A tale of two childhood friends who become dreaded gangsters in Mangaladevi, and a cop out to nail them.
Story: Friends Shiva and Hari unleash a reign of terror in Mangaladevi. Their ‘growth’ comes at a cost though. Can they weather this or will ambition get the better of their bond?
Review: November 19, 2021 will be the day that Raj B Shetty ceases to be known for Ondu Motteya Kathe. Hereon, he is Shiva, actually Shivanna, a character that’s not only unlikely to be forgotten, but also announces the arrival of Raj, the actor, who makes you feel his every emotion. Let’s roll out the red carpet for him, already. Shiva is the soul of Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana, Raj’s newest directorial, a gangster flick set in Mangaladevi that’s packed with gut-wrenching moments.
Right from the flashback to Shiva’s early days and how and why he came to be the way he is – a man of violence, who thinks murder and executes it in the flash of a second – he is the one who will stay with you much after the film is over. A man of few words and more action, he is also the one you clap and whistle for, when he breaks into a tiger dance (more like Shiva’s tandava) in the rain, or see shots of his blood-soaked footwear. Hell, even the sound of his Yamaha bike was enough for thunderous applause to erupt in the movie hall.
Shiva is not a one-man army, though. By his side is Hari (Rishab Shetty), his childhood friend, who becomes the brains of their operations, and seizes the money-spinning opportunity their reign of terror offers. From a simpleton who could barely ask for Rs 2,400 owed to him, to a hardcore thug, Hari’s metamorphosis is in stark contrast to Shiva, whose unwavering love for the former and playing cricket with the youngsters in the neighbourhood remains throughout. That becomes Shiva’s biggest folly – his inability to adapt to their changing circumstances and make the most of it – and brings in the twist in the tale.
Amid all of this is Gopalkrishna Deshpande’s Sub-Inspector Bramhaiyya, whose role in charting the course for Shiva’s and Hari’s trajectories, unbeknown to them, is also what drives the narrative. Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana is, after all, his account of how he came to ‘cross paths’ with these two men and what came of them and him.
This is a story that absolutely deserves a trip to the movie halls. Prior to the release of the film, Rakshit Shetty and Rishab gushed about Raj the director and actor and now we know just why. Hats off to you, Raj! There were high expectations of your film after the trailer dropped and boy, have you lived up to that and how! Rishab also deserves a round of applause; he’s the heart of this film, matching Raj step-for-step, but also letting him walk away with the spotlight.
Raj and Rishab may be the heroes of Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana, but this film would not have been half as impactful without the visual wonders that cinematographer Praveen Shriyan churned out, as well as Midhun Mukundan’s musical score. Midhun’s track for the trailer, Demon in Me, has been a runaway hit since we first heard it, but hearing it play out with the credits reel at the beginning, was on a whole different level. You’ve got to experience it with the sound system of a good movie hall. Also, if you’ve been wondering how a beautiful melody like Endo Bareda, sung by Vasuki Vaibhav, fits into the scheme of things of a gangster flick, a trip to the cinemas will give you that answer. Put together this was one helluva goosebump-inducing ride that’s unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon.
Verdict: I loved Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana and I believe, you will too. It’s not a perfect film, but the viewing experience is so gripping that you’d be more inclined to overlook whatever flaws you do spot. It is, after all, only Raj’s second film as a director and he deserves applause for the grit and passion that shines through in this one.