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Matsyagandha movie review: Pruthvi Ambaar nails tough cop act, but humdrum film doesn’t excite

Debutant director Devraj Poojary’s film centres on a drug smuggling racket in a coastal town

Matsyagandha movie review: Pruthvi Ambaar nails tough cop act, but humdrum film doesn’t excite
Pruthvi Ambaar in a still from the film

Last Updated: 11.00 PM, Feb 23, 2024


Matsyagandha story: Probationary station-in-charge at the Tonka rural police station, Param (Pruthvi Ambaar) is looking for that one case that will give his career a push and find his way out of the sleepy trawling district, where his only unpleasant run-ins are with a few local fisherfolk. When Param and his sub-ordinate stumble upon a drug smuggling racket using fish, it seems just what they were looking for.


But when the drug haul they bust gets stolen, they have one chance to save the department’s reputation and their jobs. Finding the kingpin of the drug racket, Joint Ravi (Sourav Lokesh) is easier said than done and they have to enlist the help of a former gangster, Michael Alexander D’Souza aka MAD (Sharath Lohithashwa), whose service comes with conditions.

Matsyagandha review: Pruthvi Ambaar, who, more often than not, is the cute boy-next-door lover boy in his films, gets a refreshingly different avatar in Devraj Poojary’s debut directorial. Here he’s a slightly hot-headed young police officer, who is stuck in a station that offers him nothing to talk about, until he finds a packet of Ganja stuffed into the Tuna he’s bought for dinner and sets out to find its source.

Pruthvi Ambaar in a still from the film
Pruthvi Ambaar in a still from the film

What sets Param apart is that he’s not Mr Goody-Two-Shoes; he’s okay enjoying the perks of being a police officer in a rural station, even if that means he is paying for only 1 fish and taking the second for free. The fact that the posting isn’t the most lucrative is also why he is tempted to do an under-the-table deal with a peddler, which goes awry and how!

Although Param has a fiancée, director Devraj spends barely a couple of minutes to establish their relationship, keeping his narrative squarely on all that’s going on within the Tonka Police Station limits. As the tough cop, whose penchant for enforcing rules and regulations puts him in the crosshairs of the fisherfolk in the nearby colony, Pruthvi is in great form in the film. In comparison, Prashant Siddi and Nagaraj Byndoor as Umesh and Loki, the two fishermen Param’s picked on, don’t get to do much more than glare at the cop and have heated exchanges of words.

Prashant also serves as music director and while his tunes and the background score are catchy and effective, they do not have much of a shelf-life and do not linger once you walk out of the theatre. Praveen M Prabhu’s camera lovingly captures Karavali and presents a beautiful picture of the coastal region, including several mandatory aerial shots.

But what is Matsyagandha’s objective? Is it to glorify the drug trade? The police force, of course, does not get a rosy picture. And the drug lords in the film are much smarter and several steps ahead of the cops anyway.

Matsyagandha verdict: Devraj Poojary’s film has been set up for a sequel, but the filmmaker ensures that Matsyagandha’s narrative works as a stand-alone film as well. It is not ground-breaking cinema, but works as a decent one-time watch.

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