Debutant director TK Dayanand’s stance of keeping Benkipatna as the title of his film and roping in newcomers Prathap Narayan and Anushree as the lead pair in no way belies its hard-hitting subject. The film revolves around the life of people residing in a remote area called Benkipatna. Paani (Anushree) works in a mandi owned by Limba (Prakash Belawadi) and is a big fan of Sudeep.
Paani’s relative is 60-year-old Dorai (Arun Sagar) who wants to direct a film, but meanwhile sells rat poison on the streets of Benkipatna. Hanumanthu is a young aimless man who tags along with him everywhere. Life comes to a halt for Hanumanthu when his mother passes away and he is comforted by Paani. The twist comes when Paani becomes a target of a sexually starved society and she has to explain to Hanumanthu about the social importance of marriage and how the mangalsutra and a toe ring protects her from society’s vices. That’s when Hanumanthu makes an effort to get a job, but instead, lands up in jail. Will Paani and Hanumanthu get back to each other? This forms the crux of this rather unsual tragic drama.
An original screenplay by a first-time director is a rare thing in Sandalwood and the director must be commended for his effort. However, somewhere along the way, while watching the film, it becomes disjointed. Although the premise is simple, it elicits shock with its disturbing content. It is a difficult subject for any director and that too in his first venture. He presents a rural scape, stirs up a discussion around a serious issue and tries to evoke a reaction.
Though the film is a challenge for both the newcomers, Benkipatna gives them an opportunity to turn in a decent performance and they seem fairly promising. Arun Sagar and Prakash Belawadi provide good support. Cinematographer Niranjan Babu and music director Kaushik have stuck to their story’s sensibilities. It is an early experiment by a new director and although it doesn’t score on all counts, it is still a brave attempt.