Kannada cinema had a great run of parallel cinema in 70s and early 80s.But beyond mid-80s, regular masala movies stuck the industry . This continued well beyond 90s as well and the effluence of meaningful cinema was diminshing. The current young super stars like Ravichandran Shivanna at that point had a mixed bag, especially the latter. Shivanna’s career in early 90s had taken a downward dip after a spectacular start that he had with the home banners. His movies were getting monotonous and audience rejected some of them.
That is when two top class directors entered the industry. One is the iconic Sunil Kumar Desai and other a young turk who was literally younger than his assistant directors. This guy started as a full-fledged director by directing a B plus grade comedy called Tarle Nan Maga with Jaggesh in the lead. This movie was a runaway success for it’s budget and the director became synonymous with some of the slangy terms used in the movie .Thereafter the same director paired up with another newbie Kumar Govind and directed a horror thriller called SShh. This movie became a rage for its sheer portrayal of the plot and high technical values. Mind you, the producer hero Kumar Govind was short on budget as well. But the director had this uncanny ability to come up with fine movies on a shoe string budget. It was early days and the youngster had courage, wit, ambition and a host of good people around him.
It wasn’t very unnatural for Vajreshwari banner to hand over the baton to this ingenious man called Upendra to enliven Shivanna’s next phase of his career.OM as a script was something incommensurable to Vajreshwari’s conventional movies. For the first time, they show Shivanna smoking on the screen, a far cry from their feel good movies, that they are known for.
But such was the script and it’s impact that the audience hardly cared and in fact appreciated it for this inherent emulation of underworld characters. Yet another thumping part of the movie was the presence of real life underworld dons like Jedrahalli Krishna and others .Their presence did lift the movie and created an astounding quiver.
At various parts of the movie, we could see that typical Upendra narration which could be seen in most of his directorial .The situational fallacy that he creates at various stages of the movie form the core of the narration. Shivanna and Prema have given memorable performance which epitomize the director’s ability. For Shivanna this movie helped in increasing his fans by leaps and bounds.
Hamsalekha in his role as a music director has once again lived up to his reputation. Two of the songs chirped from Annavru still popular in FM channels. More than the songs, the background music is simply top class. BC Gowrishankar’s cinematography (reminiscent of Maniratnam/Santosh Sivan combo) is amazing as well. When you think of classic movies, it’s baffling how everything fall in place -direction, technicalities and acting. It’s not a sheer co incidence when Shivanna termed Uppi as “Manirathnam of sandalwood” even before the movie got released. This pretty much signify what OM is . The movie got remade in telugu and hindi. The telugu version had pretty much the same technical team.
This masterpiece is coming back to silver screen (March 13th) on 5.1 sound and the release is quite big. Earlier releases in the past 20 years were mainly in one or two screens in Bengaluru or Mysooru. The current generation who would have missed this one, please catch this one at the nearest screen near you.