Rudri has just got a direct-to-OTT release on Namma Flix
Story: Happy-go-lucky Rudri (Pavana Gowda) works at a small-time tea shop, although her heart lies in playing and having a good time with the kids in the neighbourhood. Her simple life comes crashing down, when she is sexually abused by a gang of men. How she then goes about exacting vengeance forms the rest of the narrative.
Review: The Kannada film Rudri has, according to the team, been much feted at a few festivals that it was sent to. This, of course, provided a sliver of hope that it would make for a decent watch. But boy was that misleading. Directed by Badiger Devendra, Rudri skipped a theatrical outing and went straight to OTT. It is currently available to stream on Namma Flix, where it is unlikely to grab a lot of eyeballs.
Rudri, as a film, is problematic from the start. Pavana’s characterization as Rudri initially comes across as someone with lower IQ or learning disabilities, until the gangrape, after which she is not only level-headed, but also has the smarts to seek out the perpetrators and eliminate them one-by one. The film is narrated from the perspective of a police officer who sets out to investigate a spate of murders, after finding broken glass bangles near the corpses and smelling foul play. And while his investigations lead him to Rudri, he refuses to arrest her for her crimes and considers that one of the best deeds of his professional life. Really?
Pavana is the only known face on the cast, and the actress is limited to looking anguished or crying her eyes out. None of it makes you feel even remotely sympathetic to the plight of her character. She also has some feeble attempts at action as she kills those who abused her, but the execution of these scenes is so lacklustre you just want the film to end. At just shy of two hours run-time, Rudri is literally painful to watch. Thankfully, the platform allows higher playback speeds and the option to skip head by 10 secs, which helps mightily with films like these.
The film team had earlier spoken about how the lack of a mass hero or heroine, for that matter, was a problem for them in securing a decent theatrical outing. Honestly, going by the content and its execution, it is highly doubtful that audiences would have made it to theatres to watch this one. An OTT outing, in that sense, is a safer bet for the film team, but not so much for the platform.
At a time when mainstream streaming platforms remain reluctant in picking up Kannada films until and unless there is a theatrical release, a decent star cast and reviews, a major chunk of the movies released in the last few calendar years have remained without a digital partner. And yet, the teams behind most of these films refuse to consider putting their content on the smaller, home-grown platforms. Without industry support, these platforms end up hosting below average and mediocre content, which does not drive traffic.
Verdict: Rudri is supposedly inspired by real-life instances of violence against women. The question that remains is about the objective of the film – should violence be met with more violence. As noble as it sounds that women should stand up for themselves and not fight injustices meted out to them, the path the protagonist chooses does not seem right, even if the film team claims cinematic liberties.