It is nothing less than another sad tragedy that a significant percentage of Indian movie lovers are not even aware of an extremely gifted, National award-winning actor Sanchari Vijay. An exceptional performer with an amazing versatility reminding you of veterans like Sanjeev Kumar, Vijay was known for his excellence achieved in all character-driven projects in his career of just 25+ films. He, unfortunately, left this world at the young age of 38 in a road accident in June 2021.
Puksatte Lifu meaning ‘realistic look at life’ is one of his last ventures (released post his demise), and it’s a perfect film to get introduced to the outstanding actor. The directorial debut of Aravind Kuplikar is both a thoughtful thriller and a dark satire on the system with a philosophical undercurrent pointing towards the double standard of our society.
It is about an honest key-maker, Shahjahan (Sanchari Vijay), living a simple life running his roadside shop of duplicate keys. A blow of destiny makes him the accomplice of the local police in their plan of doing robberies at night and later declaring the recovery of lesser amount, winning praises. After a slow start, the film becomes a dark comedy before turning into a tense suspense-filled drama heading towards a tragedy.
The smart writing doesn’t rely upon any religion and gender bias, giving a subtle social message, and the relationship between Shahjahan and Sharada (Matangi Prasan) is a delight to watch. Besides, the cinematography, music and background score gradually take you into the small-town world and its ambience, making you feel for the realistic characters on screen.
Largely being novel in its theme and presentation exploring actual locations, the film slows down in the middle when Vijay goes missing in the narrative. The grip loosens, but the mystery keeps it going, and the performances led by Achyuth Kumar and Rangayana Raghu keep you engrossed. But then the climax makes you extremely sad, remembering the star who couldn’t shine.
Looking at it from the perspective of its bold subject, shaming the police, Puksatte Lifu is also a brave attempt that probably would have got banned if made in Hindi for showcasing the entire police station as a group of thieves. Maybe that gives you another reason to go for it at the earliest.
Coming back to late Sanchari Vijay, watch it for him if nothing else as the film proves how well he used to slip into the skin of his characters with incomparable ease. In the present times, we already were short of actors completely devoted to their art and destiny took one of the most talented ones at such a young age. Puksatte Lifu perfectly pays its respectable farewell to Vijay and so do we as viewers and his staunch fans.
Title: Puksatte Lifu (Kannada)
Cast: Sanchari Vijay, Matangi Prasan, Achyuth Kumar and Rangayana Raghu
Director: Aravind Kuplikar
Rating: 3.5 stars
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