The issue with the 2021 suspense thriller Seetharam Benoy Case No. 18, starring Vijay Raghavendra and directed by Devi Prasad Shetty, was that it tried too hard to be a thriller. Thankfully, with Case of Kondana, also starring Vijay, Devi Prasad Shetty has made a thriller without the pretentiousness we saw in Seetharam Benoy; almost every scene in Case of Kondana has a purpose, as it nicely sets up what’s going to happen next.
The movie begins with ACP Lakshmi (Bhavana Menon) investigating a serial killer case. Even as Lakshmi gets close to her target, the director jolts us by spicing up the plot with another crime episode involving the protagonist, sub-inspector Wilson (Vijay Raghavendra), a fresher in the police department.
The film’s writing focuses on the psyche of each of its characters and connects it with the major twists of the story. Wilson reacts to situations without thinking much, while Lakshmi takes the law into her own hands while dealing with criminals. Even if they are morally right, their actions come back to haunt them.
Case of Kondana (Kannada)
Director: Devi Prasad Shetty
Cast: Vijay Raghavendra, Bhavana Menon, Kushee Ravi, Rangayana Raghu
Runtime: 143 minutes
Storyline: A couple of deaths in a fictional place called Kondana connects a rookie cop, a bunch of rowdies, a helpful doctor and an experienced police officer, as their lives are changed forever on the dreadful night.
Others in the mix are Wilson’s girlfriend Sahana (Kushee Ravi), a helpful doctor, a pani puri vendor who is worried about his son’s deteriorating health, and a gang of rowdies. To the film’s credit, all central characters play a part in the proceedings.
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Director Devi Prasad puts an interesting spin on the thriller template that we are used to. The all-important crime at the fictional place, Kondana, and the incidents that lead to it are purely accidental. It’s refreshing to see the protagonist as an innocent on the run and one who is constantly gripped with fear and guilt.
The film goes into the Drishyam zone when Wilson starts to outsmart the police, and you root for him because you know he never planned to have the victim’s blood on his hands. The movie even reminds you of Nayattu, where the traditional hunters get hunted.
The revelations in the story have the necessary shock value but you wish they had unfolded more organically to avoid loopholes. If Devi Prasad Shetty manages to smoothen these rough edges, he can be a solid genre filmmaker.
Thankfully, the racy screenplay of Case of Kondana makes up for the flaws; once the premise gets established, the film moves at a breakneck speed. It holds your attention as you are made to believe that something crucial is happening all the time.
It also helps that director Devi Prasad believes in creating a distinctive mood for his thrillers; if Seetharam Benoy was filmed in a lush green landscape, Case of Kondana is a thriller that unfolds over one night in a city. Gagan Baderia’s haunting score and Vishwajith Rao’s hand-held cinematography create tension to complement the film’s mood.
Vijay Raghavendra is sincere as a rookie cop who goes from aggressive to vulnerable in no time as he tries hard to avoid a dismal end to his budding career. Case of Kondana may not become a classic, but you don’t mind as the pluses outweigh the minuses.
Case of Kondana is currently running in theatres
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