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Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A review: Hemanth M Rao's throbbing love story leaves you wanting more

Through Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth, Hemant Rao tells a story that is imbued with tenderness and innocence, and even traces of tragedy. The essence of the film lies in how it all comes together

Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A review: Hemanth M Rao's throbbing love story leaves you wanting more
A still from Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A

Last Updated: 12.39 PM, Aug 31, 2023



Manu (Rakshit Shetty) and Priya (Rukmini Vasanth) dream of finding their dream home, their place in the sun. The catch, though, is that they are far removed from this reality and have no means financially to aid that dream. So, when a seemingly big opportunity tantalizes Manu, will he be naive enough to not spot the danger that hides behind? And if he does take the bait, how costly does it prove to be?



Sapta Sagaradaache Ello is like a wild daydream of a either feeble romantic or a hopeless pessimist. It's as though Hemanth M. Rao is treading the thin wire that hovers over the line separating the two sides and he's feeling wobbly carrying out the tightrope act. As he sways towards one, the other side's pull only grows in strength and strangely, an equilibrium is achieved this way till the very end to keep both sceptics satisfied. He lives in hope, we gather, and so do his two protagonists Manu and Priya who cling to it with such might that by the end of it all, they emerge with unerasable scars. Some of them are apparent on their bodies whereas the rest are concealed within. 

In a manner of speaking, Sapta Sagaradaache Ello isn't heavy on plot though there is one that guides the Manu-Priya story from underneath. Manu loves speed, the rush of success whereas Priya yearns serenity, the sound of waves while he rests by her side. We learn very early on that they both are dire romantics at heart but in their own unique ways. We also learn that Hemanth loves the two as much as they love each other and potentially even more, so, every time is he made to test them with that game of hope, you can almost hear him whimper ever so softly in the background - just that he has got Charan Raj's incredible soundtrack to mask that. 

Manu and Priya, to me, are a lot like Prashant and Archana from Nagaraj Manjule's Sairat except they are a tad older, maybe a little more equipped to take on the world. But at the core, their love breeds the same innocence and naivete that you feel like yelling at the screen and warning them and the dangers that lie ahead, hoping they survive whatever crash awaits them. Hemanth M Rao, too, much like Manjule, is out to tell a love story that, though set in the modern day, has the essence of an epic.

Perhaps that is the reason why Hemanth chooses to tell his film in little anecdotes that are stitched together for a greater impact. We learn quite early on that Manu and Priya are inseparable and this acquaintance we make of them is perhaps where the heart of the story lies. We gather what’s at stake for the two and because they are so relatable to us, we immediately understand whether their dreams are plausible or not. And when it becomes clear that what they seek isn’t very easy to come by, the narrative reveals the first misstep taken by one of the two characters. Things, before we realise it, suddenly turn on their heads and Hemanth, ever so subtly, changes the whole tone of his film and what we see is no longer the tender, soap-opera-ish love story.

Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth in Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A
Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth in Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A

This switch in tone that we encounter is so jarring and stirring at the same time that I was left in awe. If the initial portion is leisurely and composed, the aftermath is imbued with simmering disquiet. Hemanth Rao gains full control of his story and he orchestrates the narrative forward in little moments or anecdotes, letting each expression of his actors communicate the essence. Everything after a point starts to unfold a lot more briskly but it is apparent that it's all by design. Hemanth employs Charan Raj not just as his composer but as another principal character of his film and the latter's score underlines each shade of the Manu-Priya love story with gravitas and empathy. I was reminded of Anurag Kashyap and Amit Trivedi's amazing collaboration, Dev D, in Sapta Sagaradaache Ello for this film's soundtrack, too, is musically rich and evocative.

Of course, another "hero" of the film is Advaitha Gurumurthy who is in perfect sync with the pulsating rhythm of the film. Advaitha captures the drama and the intensity of the film with the same fervour as his colleagues Hemanth, Rakshit, Rukmini and Charan Raj and his work is accentuated even further by production designer Ullas Hydur. Ullas' sets appropriately look grimy/pristine/sombre as they another layer of personality to the film.

Rukmini Vasanth is particularly captivating in the key portions as she channels that angst, that tragic ignorance with great beauty and ease and lets her eyes do all the talking. I do have a problem with how her voice sounded, though, and would have liked the ADR or dubbing to carry the 'ambience' a lot more than it did. 

Rukmini Vasanth in SSE
Rukmini Vasanth in SSE

Rukmini is perfectly complemented by Rakshit Shetty and together, they exude a sense of belonging and togetherness for each other that are far beyond the 'chemistry' that we get to usually see in cinema. Rakshit, as someone who suddenly finds himself in the trenches of life, is superb and much like Rukmini, he allows his body to gesture the matters of his mind. 

Special shoutout to actor-filmmaker Ramesh Indira for his extremely impactful performance and for lending that manic edge to the film that it really needed. Sharath Lohithashwa, Gopal Deshpande and others, too, are compelling in their roles and one could expect more out of them in Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side B.

The one bone (and a big one) I have to pick with Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A is that Hemanth M Ra's idea of tragedy feels slightly misplaced. Again, without giving any spoilers, I wish the film had taken a different route altogether to offer closure to this specific chapter of the Manu-Priya story. I wish the film did not gravitate towards becoming Manu's story alone with Priya and other characters emerging somewhat as accessories. I wish the angst in this story found more space in it and let Priya's person, too, be a part of it. 


Sapta Sagaradaache Ello might seem to have a few shortcomings to its name but when looked closely, so do some of the best films out there. As pointed out, the film is a visceral account that unfolds at its own pace and with the help of a director who's handholding us into a world that he is extremely fond and protective of. Of course, the pending Side B of the film is expected to take us further into this world but it is safe to say that Sapta Sagaradaache Ello Side A is best experienced on the big screen to understand what the writer-director, and his entire team, is chasing. 

You can catch Hemanth M Rao, Rakshit Shetty and Rukmini Vasanth in conversation with OTTplay here:


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