Named after a famous Bhakti movement poet Meera – our protagonist does things far different from many girls. Gantumoote is a story about her, narrated through her lens and narrated for her to recollect everything that has happened in her life. Her revelations are something that we all can think about and relate to.
Growing up in the 90s many of us have seen the world changing from wired phones to mobile phones, from slow internet to 4G networks, love blossoming through the means of letters to video dating (thanks to lockdown brought about by COVID-19). Director Roopa Rao tries to walk us through memory lanes by telling us a captivating story of an adolescent girl who is figuring out her way through life while also navigating her teenage years.
This Kannada film has turned heads everywhere because of its gripping storyline, fantastic acting by lead actors, a new form of music and a director who is efficiently steering everything at the helm.
Meera is a film-loving small-town girl who moves into the big city with her parents. Stepping into adolescence becomes a very confusing affair for her. She like many girls starts developing feelings for Salman Khan (yes, the same Bollywood actor we all know); which then gets shut down by her parents, breaking her heart in the process, and she tries to find that ideal hero from films in the boys who enter her life. While doing so she lands herself in various experiences which remind us how as a society we make it so hard for a girl to live freely.
She raises many issues about people from marginalised communities, explores her love life, explores the depths of relationships, etc., like many in her age group. Patriarchal messages are often embedded in the film to remind us how these power dynamics are seemingly invisible in all our lives, yet pervasively present. Maybe she has her own feelings which need to be explored and her questions answered in convincing ways. Maybe she represents all girls in their schoolgoing years – who have to go through toxic male spaces and encounter male friends who pull them into bad habits, etc.
Even when faced with situations that can place her in difficult circumstances, she bounces back on her feet. She takes her decisions very consciously, right from an early age when she is at her most vulnerable stage. This is reflected upon later in the film when she is narrating her story on a beautiful hill. Each time she surprises us with new perspectives which are very uncommon in mainstream films nowadays. When the whole world is caught up in chasing fast cars, item songs and so on, this film comes in with fresh content which is sensual, thoughtful and also beautiful to watch onscreen.
Exams are nightmares everywhere and this film provides a detailed lens as to how it can effect different people. This is also dealt with sensitively as it is an important issue in Karnataka every year. Many adolescent issues like peer pressure, anxiety, exploring sexuality and relationship issues are handled maturely without taking on a preachy tone.
Meera’s exploration through all of this can be seen beautifully. She, unlike her mystic poet namesake, doesn’t engage her love with devotion but through well-balanced thought processes. This alone makes her empowered. She unravels her baggage (“Gantumoote” in Kannada) slowly but keeps us engaged all throughout. We just have to sit tight and enjoy the show.
Production design has brought us a glimpse of Bengaluru in the 90s which has worked out very well. Many of the city’s familiar spaces are shown repeatedly so that we as the audience are always engaged with the characters rather than set pieces. We are carried through emotions masterfully thanks to candid cinematography and brisk editing. The music is a journey that can best be understood as the appearance of fresh blood in the Kannada film industry in recent years. Overall, Gantumoote is a fine film that should be acknowledged.
The film is available on Amazon Prime in India with subtitles.
Featured image used for representational purpose only. Image source: Upper Stall