Belli Moda (1966)

 ●  Kannada ● 2 hrs 48 mins

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Kanagal’s Kannada debut is a classic melodrama inaugurating his characteristic type of expressionist psychodrama. The story is set in a hilly orchard belonging to Indira’s (Kalpana) father Sadashiva (Ashwath). She loves Mohan (Kumar), who goes abroad to study sponsored by Indira’s father. Although the two are supposed to marry, a problem arises when Indira’s mother Lalitha (Pandharibai) dies giving birth to a son, the official heir to Sadashiva’s property. Believing himself too indebted to her father and socially beneath her, Mohan refuses to marry Indira. In the film’s extraordinary end, Indira hacks a tree to pieces and rises ‘to catch a rainbow’. Although mobilising the Kannada version of Mills & Boon romances, Kanagal’s work evokes the psychotic undertone of these lower middle- class fictions e.g. Indira nurses her infant brother as she would her own child, intensifying Mohan’s envy. The lush orchard is disturbingly filmed with a hand-held camera and the film’s imagery repeatedly refers to calendar art: the stars, the moon, curved wash- stands and a fan-shaped bed, painted backdrops, etc. The film established Kalpana as Kannada cinema’s reigning star, and composer Vijayabhaskar. Kanagal remade the film in Malayalam as Swapnabhoomi (1967) with Prem Nazir and Sheela.

Cast: KS Ashwath, Pandari Bai, TN Balakrishna

Crew: Puttanna Kanagal (Director)

Release Dates: 01 Jan 1966 (India)

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