Kantara is a 2022 Indian Kannada-language action thriller film written and directed by Rishab Shetty, and produced by Vijay Kiragandur, under Hombale Films. The film stars Shetty as a Kambala champion who is at loggerheads with an upright DRFO officer, Murali (played by Kishore).
Set and filmed in Keradi in coastal Karnataka, principal photography began in August 2021. The cinematography was handled by Arvind S. +more Kashyap, with B. Ajaneesh Loknath scoring music for the film and the action sequences were choreographed by the action director Vikram More. The production design was handled by debutant, Dharani Gange Putra.
Kantara was released on 30 September 2022 and received acclaim from critics, who praised the cast performances (particularly those of Shetty and Kishore), direction, writing, production design, cinematography, proper showcasing of the Bhoota Kola, action sequences, editing, soundtrack, and musical score. The film was a huge commercial success and emerged as the second highest-grossing Kannada film of all time, as well as the second highest-grossing Kannada film of 2022.
In 1847, a king agrees with Panjurli Daiva/Bhoota (a local deity worshipped in its animist form by the people of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada, which are parts of Karnataka and Kasargod district of Kerala) to give some of his forest land to the local tribespeople in exchange for peace and happiness granted by Daiva. Although the Daiva agrees, the tribespeople warn the king that the family of the Daiva would follow the deity and any attempt to go back on the word will incur the wrath of Panjurli's companion, the Guliga Daiva. +more In 1970, the king's successor gets consumed by greed and demands during the Bhoota Kola festival that the tribespeople give the land back and warns them that he will go to court.
However, the successor dies a mysterious death a few months later, vomiting blood, on the steps of the Court, as predicted by Panjurli. In 1990, Muralidhar is a forest officer tasked with converting that land into a forest reserve. +more He is challenged by Shiva, a Kambala athlete from Kaadubettu. Shiva is backed by his patron and the village's landlord, Devendra Suttooru, who is the king's successor in the present day. Murali and his staff start erecting a fence along the earmarked forest reserve. Shiva's girlfriend, Leela, is a newly recruited forest guard in Murali's staff. Shiva and the villagers try to stop the fence from being erected but the police and forest guards brutally suppress them and erect it, which causes a rift between Leela and Shiva, even though she could do nothing about it. Meanwhile, Shiva is asked to perform the Bhoota Kola, but he refuses as he had witnessed his father disappear forever while performing the Kola ritual.
While visiting the forest with Devendra at night, Shiva witnesses the deity that always occurs in his dreams. Shiva runs away afraid, followed by Devendra. +more Murali decides to arrest Shiva and his friends and heads to their hideout along with Devendra's henchman, Sudhakara. However, Shiva and his friends go into hiding. A few days later, they return to their respective homes to meet their families and Shiva makes up with Leela and tells her that he will surrender to the police but the following morning, all are caught by the police and Forest Guards. When Shiva's cousin Guruva requests Devendra to release Shiva, the latter tells him to make the villagers believe that the Daiva wants them to sell their land to Devendra. Guruva refuses due to which Devendra kills him. It is revealed that Devendra wanted to reclaim the land of his ancestor back from the villagers. Devendra learns that Murali has decided to take action against him for his illegal ways of acquiring the land from the villagers, due to which, Devendra decides to kill Murali. Having learnt about Guruva's death, Shiva meets Devendra, who lies about Murali being Guruva's killer. Enraged, Shiva heads to kill Murali, but learns from his friend Mahadeva, the blacksmith, that Devendra himself is Guruva's killer. Shiva is attacked by Devendra's henchmen, Kumara and others, but manages to escape. After Murali tells Shiva about Devendra's deceptive actions for acquiring the land, Shiva meets the villagers and reveals that it was Devendra who killed Guruva. Devendra and his henchmen attack the village where an intense battle ensues. Shiva is killed, but Guliga Daiva possesses him and kills Devendra and his henchmen. A few months after the battle, Shiva performs the Bhoota Kola in which he is possessed by the Panjurli Daiva. He makes Murali and the villagers join hands in a symbolic gesture and disappears into the forest forever (meeting his father). The film ends with Shiva and Leela's son asking Sundara about his father's disappearance and Sundara narrating the same, implying that the entire movie was as per Sundara's narration.
Rishab Shetty as Kaadubettu Shiva and Shiva's father * Sapthami Gowda as Leela * Kishore as Muralidhar, a Deputy Range Forest Officer (D. R. +moreF. O) * Achyuth Kumar as Devendra Suttooru * Pramod Shetty as Sudhakara * Shanil Guru as Bulla * Prakash Thuminad as Raampa * Manasi Sudhir as Kamala, Shiva's mother * Naveen D Padil as Lawyer * Swaraj Shetty as Guruva, Shiva's cousin brother * Deepak Rai Panaaje as Sundara * Pradeep Shetty as Mohana * Rakshith Ramachandra Shetty as Devendra's Henchman * Chandrakala Rao as Sheela, Sundara's Wife * Pushparaj Bollar as Garnall Abbu * Raghu Pandeshwar as Raghu, Forest Officer * Mime Ramdas as Naaru * Basuma Kodagu as Guruva's father * Ranjan Saju as Lacchu * Rajeev Shetty as Rajeev Bhandari * Atish Shetty as Devendra's specially-abled son * Radhakrishna Kumbale as a native resident * Naveen Bondel as Demigod Interpreter.
Shine Shetty as Devendra's father * Vinay Biddappa as the King * Pragathi Rishab Shetty as the King's wife
Director Rishab Shetty cited the conflict between nature and human beings as the theme of the film, while adding specifically that the strife between forest officers and the inhabitants in his hometown Keradi, Karnataka, in the 1990s, as the source of inspiration for the film. He further added, "It is a film from our land, from our roots, stories that are heard through generations, untapped and deeply rooted to our culture. +more" Shetty conceived the story in 2021 during the COVID-19 lockdown. Elaborating on the title of the film, he said, "Kantara is a mysterious forest and this is a story that happens around the area. The film title has a tagline calling it a dhanta kathe or a legend. I did not want to give the film a straight or direct title. The word is not used often. While it has Sanskrit origins, it is used in Kannada too. It is used in Yakshagana too, where we call a very mysterious forest Kantara. ".
The film had to present three timelines: 1847, 1970s and 1990s. Since many references through books were not available, the makers took the help of the tribes residing in Keradi where it was also filmed. +more Costume designer Pragathi Shetty stated that the makers "travelled the entire village and met the tribal community, who gave details about their dress. " She added, "We had most of the junior artists roped in from Kundapura, and it was a challenge for me to convince them to wear tribal costumes. We also took reference to design the costume for the forest guard, played by Sapthami Gowda. We heard each year, the colour of the uniform would change, and everything, including the badges was customised. " Filming took place in four forest locations in the area which included a set being built reflecting the 1990s. Art director Darani Gangeputra said, "A lot of natural sources were used to create the setups", further adding, "apart from this, we created a school, temple, and a tree house. We had 35 people from Bangalore and 15 people from the Keradi village, who helped us to study the culture. " The set involved a village, including rustic homes with cowsheds, coops for hens, courtyards, areca plantations and an authentic Kambala racetrack. Shetty learned about the intricacies of Kambala and trained for four months before performing the sequence for the film in early 2022.
The music of the film was composed by B. +more Ajaneesh Loknath. Alongside him, 30-40 musicians were brought in. Mostly involving folklore music represented using Jaanapada songs using traditional instruments, the team took was assisted by Mime Ramdas. Songs usually sung by common people during crop harvest and those popular among the tribals of the area were used as a part of the album and the background score. The song "Varaha Roopam" is supposedly plagiarised from the song "Navarasam" as claimed by the band Thaikkudam Bridge which released Navarasam in 2017.
Kantara was released in theatres in Kannada on 30 September 2022 in more than 250 theatres across Karnataka, and simultaneously in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East and Australia among other places globally. After the success in Kannada, the makers announced that the film will be dubbed in Telugu, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam languages and was released on 14 October 2022 in Hindi and 15 October 2022 in Telugu and Tamil. +more Though the Hindi version was announced to be released in over 800 screens across the country, later it was reported to be released in 2500 screens in the Hindi version. It became the first Kannada movie to be released in Vietnam.
Kantara received critical acclaim from critics and audience, who praised the cast performances (particularly Shetty and Kishore), direction, writing, production design, proper showcasing of the Bhoota Kola, action sequences and technical aspects (soundtrack, cinematography, editing and musical score).
Muralidhara Khajane of The Hindu wrote "Rishab Shetty succeeds in meticulously bringing a tale of myths, legends and superstition, and that too in his native dialect. " He commended the acting performances of Shetty and Kishore, and further wrote, "The locations are colourful and vivid, and the background music by B. +more Ajaneesh Loknath represents the ethos of the land. Cinematographer Arvind S Kashyap's meditative shots showcase the native culture and capture the rustic locales in their grandeur. The filming of the Kambala sequences. is testimony to his brilliant takes. " A. Sharadhaa of The New Indian Express called the film "a compelling revenge-action drama with a neat blend of crime and divinity. " Sridevi S. of The Times of India called the film "a visual grandeur" and rated the film 4/5, commending the acting performances while writing that the "biggest take away is the pre-climax and climax, which is conceived and performed to perfection".
The reviewer for The News Minute stated that the film was presented by Shetty "in his self-referential tale in the garb of a masala film that is not only entertaining but also uncannily original. " They wrote, "Rishab Shetty, the actor, is particularly effective in the film and that's because he is fully aware of the pitch and tone of his performance. +more He looks the right shape and size for a Kambala sportsman and exudes a fine balance of naivety and arrogance when it comes to the 'manly' side of his personality. " However, they felt that the "writing falters a bit" in that "repetitive scenes dished out about. ideological differences" of the central characters. Priyanka Sundar of Firstpost rated the film 3. 5/5 and praised the performance of Shetty while calling the music "also a star of the film that not only supports the narrative but elevates it as well. " She criticized the portrayal of Leela, the love interest of the lead character as having "not really one-note" and that she was used as "an attractive lamppost. ".
Vivek M. V of Deccan Herald's rated the film 3. +more5/5 and felt the same in relation to Leela's character, while adding that the plotline meant Kishore's performance was "forced to remain one-note. " However, he felt the music and cinematography make it "a technical marvel". He further wrote, "Having shared the screen with gifted actors, it has taken a career-best effort from Rishab to emerge the best. ".
The first day net collection was estimated to be 3. 5-4. +more25 crore, with a gross of around ₹6 crore. The first weekend gross collection was reported to be ₹22. 3 (with net collection of around ₹19 crore) to ₹23 crore. The film collected ₹4 crore on its first Monday. The film was estimated to have earned around ₹24. 8-25. 2 crore in 5 days. The film collected ₹8. 7 crore on its sixth day. The estimated first week gross earning was reported to be around ₹38-50 crore. The footfalls across Karnataka was estimated to be more than ₹19 lakhs in the first week of its release. The film reportedly collected ₹4. 3 crores on its 11th day, which was the highest for a Kannada film on second Monday. The film grossed ₹57. 11 crore in 11 days and ₹58 crore in 12 days in Karnataka alone. The film grossed ₹60 crore in less than 2 weeks. The footfalls of the film was estimated to be around ₹40 lakhs by the time it grossed ₹60 crore. On its second Tuesday, the film was reported to have higher domestic net collections than both Ponniyin Selvan: I and Godfather. Kantara also earned more than these films in Karnataka. The film was reported to have collected over ₹70 crore in Karnataka alone by the end of second week. The worldwide gross collections of the film at the end of 12 days was reported to be around ₹72. 81-80 crore. The first day net collections of the Hindi version was reported to be around ₹1. 27-1. 5 crore. The film was reported to have crossed the ₹100 crore mark within 15-17 days. The net collections of the Hindi version on the second day was estimated to be around ₹2. 35-2. 75 crore. The two-day gross of the Hindi version was around ₹3. 45-4. 02 crore. The Telugu version grossed ₹5 crores on its first day and ₹10 crores in two days. The first weekend collection of the Hindi version was ₹8 crore. The film collected ₹36. 5 crore in its third weekend. The Telugu version grossed ₹16 crores. With ₹1. 45 crore on its fourth day, the Hindi version netted ₹9. 27 crore in four days. The film grossed ₹142. 84 crores in 17 days. The film crossed the ₹150 crore mark in 18 days. The Telugu version grossed ₹20 crore in 4 to 5 days. The net collections of the Hindi version was ₹10. 75 crore in 5 days. Its net collection of ₹1. 95 crore on the sixth day was higher than its first day collection. The six day net collections of the Hindi version was ₹13. 1 crore. The movie grossed ₹170 crore including ₹150 crore in India and 111 crores in Karnataka. The movie earned net collections of ₹15 crore in the Hindi version at the end of its first week run. The Telugu version grossed ₹21. 15 crore in its first week. The movie grossed ₹170. 05 to ₹175 crores at the end of three weeks. With a collection of ₹2 crore on its second Friday, the net collections of the first eight days reached ₹17 crores in the Hindi version. With a net collection of ₹2. 55 crore on its second Saturday,the net collections of the Hindi version reached ₹19. 6 crores in 9 days. The film raked in ₹0. 75 crore in Odisha in first week. The movie was estimated to have netted ₹22 crore in 10 days in the Hindi version. The film grossed ₹180 crores in 23 days. The worldwide gross was reported to be ₹188 crores with ₹170 in India alone and ₹32 crores in the fourth weekend. The film collected US$1 million in North America and 200K AUD in Australia, thereby becoming the first Kannada film to achieve those landmarks. With a footfall of ₹77 lakhs in less than 4 weeks, it became the most viewed film in Karnataka among all the films produced by Hombale Films. The Hindi version netted ₹22. 25 crores in 10 days and 24. 15 crores in 11 days. The film crossed the ₹200 crore mark in 25 days with a gross collection of ₹211. 5 crore, including ₹196. 95 crore from India alone. The Hindi version netted ₹26. 5 crore in 12 days. The film grossed ₹126 crores in Karnataka. The Telugu version grossed ₹28 crore in 10 days. The Telugu version also grossed ₹9 crore in 4 days (from October 21 to October 24) outperforming other Diwali releases. The net collections of the Hindi version was ₹29. 1 crore in 13 days, crossing the lifetime domestic net collections of the Hindi version of Ponniyin Selvan: I. The Telugu version grossed ₹32 crores. The net collections of the Hindi version was ₹31. 7 crores at the end of two weeks. The film crossed the ₹250 crore mark in less than a month of its release. The gross worldwide collections were reported to be ₹251 crores at the end of 29 days. The domestic net collections of all the versions crossed ₹200 crore in 30 days. The Telugu version grossed ₹45 crores in 13 days. The net collections of the Hindi version was ₹38. 55 crore at the end of 16 days. The film grossed ₹1. 06 crore at the UK box office. The net collections of the Hindi version was ₹42. 95 crore in 17 days. The movie grossed ₹280 crore in 30 days. The worldwide gross at the end of 31 days was reported to be ₹289. 21 crores. The footfalls crossed 80 lakhs in 32 days in Karnataka alone. The movie crossed the 300 crore gross collection milestone in 33 days. The Hindi version netted ₹47. 55 crore in 19 days and ₹49.
The Karnataka State Government announced a monthly allowance for Bhoota kola performers over 60 years of age due to the movie.