Sarkari Hiriya Pratamika Shale, Kasargodu: Koduge Ramanna Rai
Cast: Anant Nag, Pramod Shetty, Ranjan, Saptha Pavoor, Sampath
Director: Rishab Shetty
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Even as Sandalwood directors have recently been churning out run-of-the-mill content, the subject of director Rishab Shetty’s film, Sarkari Hiriya Pratamika Shale, Kasargodu: Koduge Ramanna Rai, comes with a whiff of freshness.
The film deals with the condition of Kannada schools in the border of Karnataka and Kerala, and the language struggles faced by young students. A real-life incident that took place in 2007, which he says is relevant even today, turned out to be the young director’s inspiration.
Set in Kasaragod, the film revolves around a school, Sarkari Hi. Pra Shale, with a student strength of 53, whose headmaster is struggling to keep it running. As he makes an all-out effort to ensure students are not affected by the school’s struggles, even approaching villagers for help, he gets a threat call from a government official, who cities petty reasons for the closure of the school. The situation gets uneasy when a Malayalam teacher is appointed to teach mathematics in a Kannada medium school. A few students who find that they are not able to understand the teacher’s language of communication decide to protest by not attending classes.
The turmoil faced by the headmaster, teachers, students and their parents, in keeping up their Kannada identity in the border area makes the film an intense watch. To bring in an element of humour to the otherwise-serious subject, Rishab brings in Praveena, (played by Ranjan) a key character, who despite being the oldest in his class, is unable to pass class 7 because his concentration is on other matters, including his crush, Pallavi (Saptha Pavoor). His younger classmates help him win over her, and these scenes result in some LOL moments.
The director of Ricky and Kirik Party definitely deserves a shout-out for his brave attempt and neat execution. However, some unnecessary scenes tend to dilute the serious tone and stretch the film. A tighter edit would have ensured a better impact.
A number of young boys and girls are part of the cast, but Anant Nag, who plays a key role stands out for his performance. Pramod Shetty, a Yakshagana artiste and a parent to a student also justifies his character. Other characters including Prakash Tuminad, child artiste, Ranjan, Sapta, Mahendra, Atish, Chirag, Sampath, and Prakruthi lend good support.
Vasuki Vaibhav’s compositions lend the right mood to the film, while cinematographer, Venkatesh Anguraj captures the beauty of the border area. Sa.Hi.Pra.Shaale is an issue handled sensitively without being preachy.