Movie Review: Mungaru Male

I finally watched the movie that’s sent the whole of Karnataka into a tizzy. I’m glad I watched Mungaru Male.

The best things in life are often simple. Mungaru Male’s simplicity is its success secret: when was the last time you saw the Sold Out sign for a Kannada film in an upmarket theatre like PVR for the 10 PM show?

Note: Some Spoilers ahead


I don’t remember the last time I went to a theatre to watch a Kannada film for obvious reasons: a title like Gunna is enough to put you off. I decided to watch Mungaru Male more out of curiosity: there must be something in a movie that’s running to packed houses more than four months since its release.

 

The storyline though, is straightforward and almost hackneyed. Aimless rich boy, Ganesh, falls in love with cute girl Sanjana Gandhi, pursues her, and finds she’s the daughter of a family friend. He stays at her house, and discovers that her wedding is a week away. He endears himself to her family all the while battling his feelings. The girl reciprocates two days before the wedding date. They decide to elope. Watch what happens next on the screen.

So what made this film a monster hit? In one word: screenplay.

Mungaru Male literally means pre-monsoon rain. From a cultural standpoint, pre-mosoon rain holds a special, unique significance in Karnataka. It is typically identified with the densely-thicketed areas of Malnad, stretching all the way to Coorg. The pre-monsoon rain is usually celebrated in much the same way as Spring is celebrated in Europe. In the Malnad region, the pre-monsoon rain is usually fierce. A couple of such rain spells, and you see the colour returning to the lush greenery there.

Kannada romantic poetry abounds with references to Mungaru Male. It is the season of tenderness, and the season when love sprouts. And this is precisely what Mungaru Male brings to life on screen.

Mungaru Male is one of the really rare movies that has used the rain metaphor from start till end. It sets the mood for the entire film, takes hold of you and never lets you go. Even after you walk out of the cinema hall. Unsurprisingly, the most effective scenes of the film are shot in rain with some great landscape in the background. The best example of this is when a drunk Ganesh pours out his feelings to Sanjana. The rain has thinned down, the sky is a depressed ash, and the large lake in the background is similarly coloured. The scene is intense with superb histrionics by Ganesh. Yogaraj Bhat, who has written the screenplay, brings out several layers in this scene.

For a romance movie, Mungaru Male moves at an amazing pace. Yogaraj Bhatt, also the director, sustains suspense in every scene. He has also written the dialogues, which are pretty breezy and set in a highly casual tone. It takes a special talent to express your hurt in a casual manner: no yelling, hair-pulling, or chest-beating. Ganesh says this with a smile but it stuns you with its intensity:

Nang gottaghoytu ri neev nang sigalla yaakandre nann time kharaab aagide…time ketthodre tale kerkondru taleli gaaya aagi gaaya cancer aagi doctor tale ne tegi beku antaare…antadrall naanu…ee hrudya…heart antaaralla adann kai haakond para para para anta kerkond bittideenri…prema devate ri neevu…tumba novv aagutte…male…male nintre kanneer kaanutte nachke aagutte

Perhaps the most unexpected moment of the film is its climax, one of the realistically best endings I’ve seen in a long time.

Ganesh who graduated from a TV-show anchor to a “hero” walks away with all the acting honours. His timing is one of the highlights of his performance. It is evident that comedy is his forte but he has excelled in emotional scenes as well. The drunk scene, and the scene where he spontaneously lays his head on his mother’s lap are heart rending. Anant Nag as Sanjana’s father is his evergreen self. Another great sequence is when he confesses his terminal illness to Ganesh.

It is moments like these that make Mungaru Male special and memorable.

Music is definitely another highlight of the movie. Of the seven songs, I liked just Anisutide yaako and the title track. However, Aralutiru Jeevada Geleya (the sad version of Anisutide yaako) has superb lyrics although Shreya Ghoshal could’ve rendered it better.

Hakkiyu haadide thanna hesaranu helade
Sampige beeride kampanu yaarigu kelade
Beesuva gaaliya hakkiya haadina nantige hesarina hangilla

and

Maathige meerida bhaavada selethave sundara
Nalumeyu thumbida manasige baaradu besara
Baala daariyali bere yaadaru chandira baruvanu namma jothe
Kaanuvenu avanalle ninnane

Very simple and profound at the same time. Jayant Kaikini reminds us of the legendary Chi Udayashankar in this song.

Mano Murthy, who gave us the lilting Nooru Janmaku has only outdone himself in Mungaru Male. Full marks to Sonu Nigam for Anisutide especially. He has sung it with the appropriate Bhava (feeling, emotion), which is a tough task for a singer who doesn’t know the language. More so, a song loaded with tender feelings.

Dialogues deserve a second mention here because they’re powerful in their simplicity:

Yeno Devdasa, life alli modalne saari ista pattu ondh mombathi hachidhe, male huydbidtu…

Ee mungaru maleli istondh benki idhe antha gothirlilla devdaasa

Cinematography is just mindblowing. The cameraman’s hard work shows in the scintillating landscapes of Coorg and Malnad although there’s a factual error. Most of the movie is set in Coorg but Sanjana chooses to confess her love to Ganesh standing on the edge of Jog Falls. There’s no explanation how they got there because the journey from Coorg to Jog Falls is considerable. But the lovely camera work more than compensates this factual error.

All right, I’m heavily biased in favour of Mungaru Male. This is by no means a “balanced” review. Nor did I intend it to be. The film has its drawbacks but its positives outweigh the drawbacks by light years. Name just three Kannada films over the past 10 years that use a metaphor. Or any other subtlety. Speaking of which, Yogaraj Bhat excels in adopting an excellent symbolism in the film. In the form of a rabbit. Nicknamed Devdas, Ganesh first discovers the rabbit at roadside. He adopts it, and makes it his accomplice to woo Sanjana. The rabbit symbolizes Ganesh’s quest from start to end. Its death mirrors Ganesh’s fate. Its burial near the tip of the Jog Falls is equally consistent with the shaping of events in the movie, and symbolic, again. The death of Devdas is intensely moving.

Ultimately, Mungaru Male appeals because everybody recognizes in it, something common to their own experiences of falling in/out of love. The way it is told makes the difference: the tenor is casually intimate, like the small bits of routine conversation among friends that metamorphose into fond memories to be recalled long after the conversation is over, and when the friends are no longer physically in touch. The movie has a lingering quality, which makes you want to watch it again, for the experience that it gives you. That partly explains why the movie is running to packed houses even today. A huge chunk is repeat audience. Little wonder that rumour mills have already declared this as the biggest grosser in Kannada cinema history. A whole blog has been dedicated to the movie. Wikipedia also has an entry on the film.

To me however, Mungaru Male will remain as one of the finest pieces of poetry on celluloid.

Crossposted on Desicritics.

27 comments for “Movie Review: Mungaru Male

  1. Manjunath
    November 24, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    we are waiting for this type of movies again from Yograj bhat and no other movies fill the mungaru male. i just love it and have seen more then 100 times, it might go 1000 times hopefully

  2. Thirumalaivasan
    August 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Hearty wishes ganesh,

    This is my first film I saw in Kannada. I am from Tamil Nadu. Though I don’t know kannada. I love this film Mungaru male. I saw this film 3 times so far.
    Film is superb!!
    Specially the song
    “Anisuthide yaako indu
    Neeneyne nannavalindu”

    Story,Screenplay,Location,direction & overall performance is excellent.

    I feel the best performance of “Ganesh” and ofcourse “Devadasu”.

    Hope Ganesh is doing best as I don’t know about his current film!!..

    Best of luck for Ganesh for his future projects,

    Last but not least best wishes for the entire team who work for this film.

    Thiru

  3. Anu
    May 20, 2009 at 4:29 PM

    i felt as though am watching the movie agn…kudos to u dude…review is excellent n so is the movie…

  4. satish
    April 28, 2009 at 2:39 PM

    I am from Hyderabad, recently came to Bangalore and can understand Kannada swalpa swalpa. I happened to see Mugaru Male DVD. Actually I saw it alone at home. Though I could not understand the full dialogues, I could get what Ganesh is saying by his expressions. Kudos to Ganesh, he did a superb job.
    The way they have shown Job falls, I regret not watching the movie in a theatre.
    I believe, once in 3-4 yrs we get to see such nice movie. In Telugu there is a movie Bommarillu, though a different story but can watch it as many times.
    You connect with these kind of movies.

  5. sindhoor hegde
    February 12, 2009 at 8:15 PM

    Hi there…
    good review… :)

  6. Harsha
    August 31, 2008 at 4:31 AM

    Bitkotbitte kandri… nimmanna Bitkotbitte :(

    Aadre Ondu tilkobeku…
    Erdu kivialli kelsokoli
    Eee male gaalige enu kelsalla kandri
    Hella ..
    Neev yaarannu bekadru katkoli, aadre nannastu nimanna ista padovnu ee bhoomilli yaaru sigolla.
    Nimanna astu ista padthini…
    Neev elle iri, heege iri, nannana mariri, nenupalli hidkoli, nemgeste maklagali..
    neev han han mudukiyaagi, nim hallella udrogi.. konege ondu dina neev satru..
    Nanna preeti sayallari.. Ondalla ondu dina naanu sathogthini.
    Aadre satmele kooda nimmanna ista patdiniri !!

    Neev sigodilla antha nangenu bejaarilla illa ri..
    Nan idi lifealli nim jothe kaldanalla ee nalak dina.. astu saaku
    ee nenapanne rewind maadkondu maadkondu hego idi life talbidthini..:(

    - Harsha3606

  7. Venkat
    June 6, 2008 at 3:41 PM

    I dont understand Kannada. But still watched the movie. The ending was very good. But why should the rabbit be killed. I could not take it.

  8. April 14, 2008 at 8:21 PM

    Excellent review for an excellent movie.

  9. varsha
    December 12, 2007 at 9:50 PM

    yes it has been a very good movie to watch………. i like watching this movie
    ireccomend everyone who have not warched this movie “PLEASE GO AND WATCH .”

    VARSHA

  10. Krishna
    October 30, 2007 at 10:19 AM

    I had heard so much about this movie..but what a colossal disappointment it was! I just couldn’t stand it..I couldn’t even sit through till the end…The same old boy-meets-girl story that has been beaten to death many times over..The success of this dumb movie is utterly incomprehensible to me..Perhaps I am living in a different planet from you folk.

  11. sandeshc
    September 10, 2007 at 12:13 AM

    Gr8 review…… Lets pray that we get more simple and yet high quality movies like this……

  12. sonali
    August 13, 2007 at 12:01 PM

    actually i didn’t see that movie. coz i don’t know kannada. but my friend told me that that movie just superb. he saw the movie at 50 times.
    now frm ur review i m just dying to see that movie. excellent review.ur review help me to send message to my special friend in his mothertounge.THANK U SO SO SO SO MUCH.KEEP IT UP.”ALWAYS BE HAPPY”

  13. Sanjay Rao
    July 26, 2007 at 9:05 AM

    Kudos to you. Very good review. It was kind of reading my own thoughts expressed so well by someone. Quite a few saw multiple times here in Washington DC. It was very un usual to see full house for a Kannada movie in US

  14. Prashanth
    July 10, 2007 at 3:02 PM

    Excellent review for an excellent movie.

  15. Dev
    June 27, 2007 at 11:36 AM

    Great review.
    But I would like to add one of the movements of movie which I liked it. He fight with villain when heroin udabi comes to marriage of the movie and says”nin kashta nange artha aguthe”aakandre nanu kuda ninna hage..The way he says after that fight they become friends.

  16. Sanjay
    June 8, 2007 at 5:39 AM

    Beautifully crafted review. Thanks for conveying what many of us felt watching the movie.

  17. Ravikiran P
    May 18, 2007 at 2:59 AM

    Good movie, we have to this type of mavies.

  18. Subbu
    May 5, 2007 at 5:35 AM

    Sandeep,

    Mungaru male doesn’t mean pre-monsoon rain, but actually means South-west Monsoon rains, while hingaru male means North-east Monsoon rains. Mungaru and hingaru refer to definite seasonal (rainfall) patterns. I am amazed as to why everyone refers it as pre-monsoon, which actually a short period rains of about 2-3 weeks, before the South-west monsoon hits the western coast of India beginning from June 1.

    Subbu.

  19. Nijagunayya
    April 26, 2007 at 10:30 AM

    Hi Sudeep,

    Thanks for your comeents. We should appreciate such movies.

    Your’s Kannadiga

    Nijagunayya

  20. Sudhindra
    April 20, 2007 at 8:35 PM

    very nice review.

  21. Sandeep
    April 19, 2007 at 6:14 PM

    Sreedhara,

    Just once, I’ve watched it just once.

  22. Sreedhara
    April 19, 2007 at 3:35 PM

    Very well written review. You need to be very good observer to note the finest points like this. How many times have you watched this movie? Anisuthide eega idanna innondu saari nodbekendu…really..

  23. GaneshRaj
    April 11, 2007 at 2:45 PM

    Hi
    Im not sure if this is Sandeep Hande

    But anyway , amazing review , keep it up..

    I still didnt get the tickets man..

  24. Sandeep
    April 9, 2007 at 3:46 PM

    Thanks guys!

  25. Giri
    April 9, 2007 at 9:43 AM

    simply gr8, ur review is as simple, cool, worth, and fully loaded to be a master piece as the Movie it self
    Barahagaranige Namaskara !!!

  26. April 7, 2007 at 7:48 AM

    Excellent Review….can yu pls translate the dialougues

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