The terms spin-offs and multiverse are gradually making their mark in Indian cinema, and it is making its presence felt in the Kannada film industry with the introduction of Ghost. This cinematic endeavour, driven by director Srini, is a progressive step forward. More so, the inclusion of Shivarajkumar, who brings with him a strong fan base and an even stronger inclination to experiment, elevates the project.
Undertaking a project of this magnitude comes with its fair share of risks, with outcomes never guaranteed. There are a multitude of factors, including commercial viability, technical prowess, authenticity, and the collaboration of every team member, which must align harmoniously to make it work.
Ghost encompasses all the elements that a commercial film requires, but it does so on an ambitious scale, with a focus on plot-driven characters, technical excellence, and a deep respect for cinematic art. It’s a departure from the conventional formula, with the omission of songs, a traditional heroine, and the standard template. The question arises: Has Ghost, without all these, managed to fulfill every aspect of its unique approach, and does it offer more?
Now, let’s delve into the storyline. The film introduces a rare concept in cinema – prison privatisation becomes the central theme of this heist thriller. When former CBI agent Vamana (Prashanth Narayanan) is taken hostage, ACP Chengappa (Jayaram) is called in to resolve the crisis. The mastermind behind this predicament is Dalavayi Muddanna (Shivarajkumar). Known as ‘Big Daddy’ in criminal circles, Dalavayi is a feared underworld kingpin with a history involving Chengappa. The motive behind Dalavayi’s attack on the prison becomes the core mystery that Chengappa must unravel. Why has the prison been hijacked? Why have the inmates become his allies? What is Dalavayi’s new identity? Is he the Ghost? These questions slowly unfurl, gradually exposing the layers of this enigma. The film concludes by hinting at the arrival of Dalavayi’s son in the sequel.
At its outset, Ghost may be perceived as a thrilling action spectacle, particularly in its initial portrayal as a hijacking narrative. The film maintains its focus on action-packed thriller elements, with the heist holding the narrative together. The first half guides viewers through Chengappa’s perspective and sets the stage for a revelation. The puzzle pieces seamlessly fall into place in the second part, delivering a captivating storyline. The film’s thrilling, audacious elements, like the daring prison escape, may seem far-fetched, but they are skillfully executed to stir emotions. Even when a statue (Dr. Rajkumar) unexpectedly helps, questions about believability matter less.
Shivarajkumar’s charismatic portrayal as Dalavayi or what he calls ‘Ghost’ retains his enduring mass appeal with sophistication and grandeur, avoiding unnecessary extravagance. He engages in intense gunplay and delivers powerful dialogues, which is limited in the first half, but his presence on screen remains engaging, which only gets stronger post-intermission.
Jayaram is a valuable addition to the film, playing the role of a CBI officer, and he commands a commendable on-screen presence. His extended duration is justified. Anupam Kher adds a final touch of excellence while his character holds the promise of further development in the sequel. Archana Jois, in the role of a journalist, and Prashanth Narayanan, a former CBI officer, play pivotal roles in connecting the dots of the narrative. Dattanna has a key role to play along with some fresh faces showcasing their talents. The existence of a mouse in the film gets an unusual placement, and it’s something to take note of. Srini’s multiverse, featuring himself as Lawyer Mahesh Das from Birbal, makes a brief appearance, setting the stage for future intrigue.
The film eventually reveals itself as part of Srini’s expanding Cinematic Universe, setting the stage for a potential multi-starrer and opening doors to various cinematic ventures in the future. Ghost also explores technological advancements, including the de-aging of Shivarajkumar, which adds an element of surprise. However, certain loopholes in this de-aged version require correction, especially if it becomes significant in the sequel.
The heist emerges as an ambitious and captivating production that transcends the confines of traditional commercial cinema, also introducing the concept of the multiverse in Kannada cinema. It possesses a distinct voice within the commercial framework and is a testament to its strong technical mastery—Mahendra Simha’s visionary cinematography and Arjun Janya’s evocative music enhance the overall cinematic experience.
In conclusion, Ghost offers thrilling moments, with Shivarajkumar’s exceptional performance, along with the rest of the cast, elevating the viewing experience. It’s unquestionably a film worth watching, and the anticipation of a sequel promises even more excitement.
Cast: Shivarajkumar, Jayaram, Anupam Kher, Dattanna, Prashanth Narayanan, and Archana Jois
Rating: 3.5/5 stars