Adhyaksha, released in 2014, was an impressive remake of the Tamil rural comedy drama Varthapadatha Valibar Sangam. Though not on par with it, the Kannada adaptation with the Sharan-Chikkanna combination did a fine job delivering the laughs. A decade later, Upadhyaksha is a film that wants to ride on the same template of Adhyaksha and provide a launchpad for seasoned comedian Chikkanna to turn hero.
Sharan was on the upward journey of transforming himself into a hero from a comedian when Adhyaksha became a success. The film worked thanks to the chemistry of Sharan and Chikkanna. However, In Upadhyaksha, directed by Anil Kumar, Chikkanna doesn’t have another comedian to lean on and is left to do all the heavy lifting himself and pull off something special from an uninventive script. The result? He succeeds only partially.
Director: Anil Kumar
Cast: Chikkanna, Ravi Shankar, Malaika Vasupal, Dharmanna Kadur
Runtime: 153 minutes
Storyline: Narayana, the vice president of Chi Thu Association, always stands in the way of the village leader Shivarudregowda. To make matters more serious, he elopes with the latter’s youngest daughter
The story is set in a village called Gejjepura, where Narayana (Chikkanna) a.k.a Upadhyaksha (meaning vice-president), is now in charge of the Chi. Thu Association, which has only happy-go-lucky members. Adhyaksha (Sharan), the president, is living elsewhere after eloping and marrying the daughter of Shivarudregowda (Ravi Shankar), the village leader.
Upadhyaksha and Shivarudregowda are always at loggerheads with each other, with one wanting to stay more relevant than the other in the village. Expectedly, Upadhyaksha falls in love with Shivarudregowda’s youngest daughter (Malaika Vasupal) and elopes with her.
Unfortunately, the film fails to go beyond silly gags, and director Anil Kumar’s writing settles for low-hanging fruit with plenty of sexual innuendos. The situational humour isn’t remarkable, while the typical loud and cringe comedy by Sadhu Kokila continues to find a place in Kannada films.
The director’s creative bankruptcy is evident in his attempt to produce humour through poor gimmicks. For instance, the heroine is a film buff, so she begins to admire her lover as famous movie characters. As a result, we get parody scenes of blockbusters such as KGF, Pushpa, and Baahubali that fail to make an impact.
But if this film is a measure to test Chikkanna’s ability to be a mainstream film hero, then the actor gets full points for his dancing skills. There aren’t any well-written situations in the movie for the actor to explore his range as a performer, but comedy is right up his alley, so Chikkanna looks convincing in his role. It remains to be seen if he can excel as a hero in a more original script that challenges him with a solid character.
Upadhyaksha is unapologetically an old-school rural comedy drama. If you feel the comedy of Adhyaksha has aged well and want more of it, Upadhyaksha will work for you. Similarly, if you love Chikkanna’s brand of comedy, then watch this and laugh your heart out.
Upadhyaksha is currently running in theatres