Gandhada Gudi review: Puneeth's film is like a trek into Karnataka's wilderness
The late Puneeth Rajkumar’s ambitious and off-the-beaten-track docudrama, Gandhada Gudi, hit the screens on Friday (October 29). Fans, who saw the paid premiere on Thursday, have been showering love on their favourite star on social media.
Directed by wildlife photographer Amoghavarsha, the film takes you on a journey with Puneeth Rajkumar into the wild jungles, picturesque beaches, underwater world and beautiful mountains situated in Karnataka. The shooting for this docudrama began on October 29th, 2020, exactly one year before Puneeth’s death.
In the film, director Amoghavarsha is Puneeth Rajkumar’s friend and guide as both set out to explore Karnataka wildlife. The film features some breathtaking shots of nature that most people only get to see in channels like National Geographic and Discovery.
Gandhada Gudi shows hidden gems of Karnataka
Puneeth and Amoghavarsha begin their journey by travelling to Nagarahole, and then move on to Gajanur village, the BRT Tiger Reserve, Netrani Island, Jog falls, Malenadu, Agumbe, Vijayanagara in Ballari and nearby villages. The film shows the Power Star exploring life in the woods, underwater and on top of hills and mountains.
The late actor, also fondly called Appu, comes across more like a child curious to learn and spot animals in the wild. He is not flexing his muscles at any villain as he does in his other movies. Instead, Puneeth extorts people not to behave like a hero in the jungles and not to disturb the animals in their natural habitats.
Puneeth gets excited when he spots a herd of elephants and a tiger in his tryst with nature. He walks miles together with forest guards who take him along on their patrols. In the process, he learns how and why elephants stray into human areas, how pachyderms are captured and domesticated by humans. The film also features Gowri Shankar, who is known for his work in saving king cobras and wild snakes.
Appu goes scuba diving at Netrani Island to explore the rich wonders of the sea. The visuals under the sea are such a treat that adventure junkies will surely be heading to the island. What’s interesting about this docudrama is that Puneeth shares a lot of anecdotes from his younger days with plenty of references to his father Dr Rajkumar’s films thrown in. The audience will also get a peek into Puneeth’s early days in cinema as a child star, as the late actor shares his experiences shooting for 1985 Bettada Hoovu and the 1983 Bhakta Prahlada.
Humble and humorous side of the Power Star
Gandhada Gudi shows Puneeth’s humorous side, his innocence and also his fear of the wild. Puneeth is known for his humility and a scene in the film drives this home. A group of tribal kids fail to recognise the actor but he does not get offended. Neither is this scene removed from the film. The superstar can be seen sharing food with forest guards and tribals. There are no special facilities for him inside the jungles and he eats and sleeps like a common man.
There are several moments in the film when Puneeth’s heart is in his mouth since he admits to being scared of animals, especially snakes. Puneeth treks and walks miles in the forests as he learns new sounds, learns about different reptiles and how animals like elephants or frogs communicate with each other. Appu wears his trademark smile throughout the film leaving most people in the audience emotional and teary-eyed.
A particular scene in the film is extremely poignant and it brings a lump in your throat. In the scene, an anxious Puneeth asks Amogh if he is in safe hands as soon as he hears the hissing sound of a snake. Amogh assures him that they will be fine and Puneeth responds by saying that he is currently shooting for three films and his wife and children are waiting for him back home. That scene will probably make the audience emotional since he managed to get out of the wild jungles safely, but fate cut short his life in another way.
The film, produced by Ashwini Puneeth Rajkumar, is a different experience for the audience. It feels like going on a vacation with Puneeth Rajkumar. The star wears no make-up or clad in special costumes and comes across as a friend whom you love to travel with.
The film’s climax hints at the fact that the makers had probably not completed shooting for the film. It looks like they still had several places to explore and Puneeth’s untimely death must have shattered those plans.
The music by Ajaneesh Loknath is good and suits the film. The audience gets to see some hidden gems of Karnataka and is sure to boost tourism in the state. Gandhada Gudi is a visual treat for the entire family and not to be missed.