Huliraya movie review: This Kannada film is a gentle mix of comedy and drama, with no tigers
A film that has tiger in its title will take a horde of conventional thinkers to the house of crime thrillers. Huliraya has both of these elements, only as much as a pinch of salt.
This comedy-drama is more about globalisation than anything else. Just last week, Bengaluru witnessed a long weekend for Dasara. Several jokes about how the streets of the city were empty, on those four days, were made. These included snide remarks on those who had gone back to their hometowns for the festival.
As is usual after a break, the traffic in the city, once again, quadrupled on Tuesday, the first workday of this week. Why is this happening? Well, population explosion is one of the main reasons for it, along with the falling rate of opportunities for those living in smaller towns. Even though, everybody, from zamindars to janitors, has made their homes here, their hearts yearn for the calls of the birds of their towns.
The mother of Suresa, alias Huliraya (Balu Nagendra), urges him to find a job in the city. She says there’s nothing they can do in the forest. There isn’t a way out for them, she cries. The son, who was born and raised in the forest, hates how the city functions.
To use a millennial term, he’s a “village bum.” For him, Rs. 300 + Rs. 300 = Rs. 400. Would any sane employer give him a job in the city that rides on money? He can’t count money (because he hasn’t learned about the advantages of mathematics). And, he can’t take orders from a supervisor (because he’s lived his life on his own terms mostly). Now, who would want an employee with these qualities?
He’s pretty happy making the rounds of the small town that has sprung up near his forest. He catcalls women, and wears goggles with a smile that spreads for an inch across his face. He probably considers himself the Brad Pitt of his town. Oh, wait! That’s a Hollywood actor. Suresa wouldn’t know him. Maybe, Ravichandran? But, his flamboyance fades with every step he takes toward Bengaluru. He’s afraid that the tall buildings of the city might collapse on him. “Haven’t men made these?” he asks innocently. Of course, manmade structures don’t last long.
Early on, in the movie, he says a line that talks about the difference between trees and humans. If the trees are uprooted, they die, however, people just move from one place to another. That’s exactly what happens in Huliraya.
The subtle shades of tear-jerking drama are mixed with comical tones; like the scene where Suresa is asked to threaten a rich man by giving deadly stares so that he coughs up money. The scene works humorously well one minute, and, immediately, it moves to a sentimental terrain as Suresa is informed that the rich man has died from heart attack. Could a “threatening stare” kill a man, wonders Suresa. Balu Nagendra holds the scene perfectly in many such places.
The two big plusses of Aravind Kaushik’s Huliraya are Balu’s performance, and Arjun Ramu’s music that greatly brings out the movie’s color in all its glory.
The ladies (Divya Uruduga, Chirashree Anchan) and other supporting actors don’t make a mark despite being present for a considerable amount of time. That’s definitely a bummer. It’s not about Balu stealing the thunder, the scenes themselves (written by Aravind) play according to the tunes of the hero. This makes the other characters weightless.
Huliraya’s question: “Where are your roots?” has an answer that’ll take you through a ride of hummable songs (especially “Hey Hudugi”) and moments that’ll stay with you long after you leave the movie hall.