Mold: Gopal Hegde, Raj B Shetty, Ramakrishna Bhat Dundi and Medini Kelmane
Director: Natesh Hegde
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
The sound of rain, the rustle of leaves, the whistling of the wind and the silence of stagnant water Pedro, the debut feature of Natesh Hegde. In the process, they create an engaging soundscape. Certainly, the rhythm of nature is definitely a part of Kannada film. Taken in its entirety, Pedro is a calmingly captivating portrait of alienation, isolation and intolerance in the colors of a lush landscape.
At the center of the film is the very ordinary struggle of a very ordinary person against exploitation, exclusion and prejudice. The writer-directors use silent, minimalistic methods to tell the story of startling scholarship and their consequences in a place where nothing on the surface apparently seems to be moving.
The film moves idly to a sparsely populated village in a remote nook and corner of the Western Ghats, where the titular character, a part-time electrician and odd job man, runs away from his community after an ‘accident’, which is a religious practice. Vigilance and its cohabitation. Plans are hatched to make the wicked pay for his sin. It is a clearly unequal battle. Every cowardly act of ‘assertion’ or ‘disobedience’ by Pedro, who lives with his mother and his brother’s family, pushes him beyond mere paleness.
Pedro, which premiered Saturday at the 26th Busan International Film Festival’s New Currents Competition, is marked by a keen sense of place, which enhances its tone of documentary realism. It is no end that Pedro is portrayed by the director’s father Gopal Hegde.
The amateur actor blends in with the film’s universe without any apparent effort – hardly surprising since it’s a never-before-seen part of the world where he and the director are. Natesh Hegde was born and raised exactly where Pedro is located. Many other artists are his relatives and acquaintances.
interesting, Pedro It is as much about belonging as it is about being an outsider. It subtly alternates between fine-grained scenes at a dimly-lit village bar where drunkards let down their guard and provide a peek into themselves and the world—and a vital In the Pugudi sequence, which develops into religious fervor. Sharpenes and sharpens the gap between a self-appointed custodian of morality and a victim of another’s brazen process.
The story stems in large part from the personal experiences of Natesh Hegde’s electrician-father. The writer-director blends real-life events with sharply detailed fictional elements to underline the overwhelming alienation that the voiceless face even in places that are an integral part of who they are.
Hegde did pretty much the same thing in his first short film. kurlik (The Crab), about a servant who steals bananas from a field, a ‘crime’ that inevitably puts him and his three children together with the landlord and his son. Pedro’s story is, in a way, an extension on what? kurlik Tried to deliver. Significantly, Pedro is produced by actor-director Rishabh Shetty, who also bankrolled kurlik.
PedroHis troubles go beyond his equations with a landowner who uses his services on his own volition and hobbies. Similarly, the landowner’s control over Pedro’s life is not limited to the farm. It spills over into the cramped house that Pedro shares with Julie (Medini Kelmane), the wife of his estranged brother Bastiva (Nagraj Hegde) and his son Vinnu (Charan Naik).
He is an ‘outsider’ in his own house. His brother, who has been kicked out of the house for his drunken and sordid ways, hates Pedro. The landlord barely tolerates him. A drunken indiscretion gets Pedro in big trouble.
The village at large, represented by a particularly outspoken figure (Raj B Shetty), who remains anonymous and is only identified as ‘vigilante’ in the final credits, turns against him.
Painfully reticent Pedro—his silence smacks of servitude—is the village man for all reasons, but his all-round utility gives him no power over his destiny. He works with Raju (Vinay Hegde) to keep the village’s electricity supply lines running. But he stands forever at the behest of the landlord Hegde (Ramakrishna Bhat Dandi).
The opening scene takes the film’s tonal and visual environment to perfection. A long, steady take provides a deep view of a winding forest road. It’s raining. Raju stands at the bottom of a power transmission tower (closer to the camera), looking up and shouting Kurt’s instructions to Pedro. The latter is located on top of the tower. We only see him when he steps down several minutes later.
A red Maruti van, coming from the farthest point in the depth of the frame, stops a few steps away from Raju. The man who drives the wheel, the landlord, Hegde, says that he needs Pedro in his field to spray insecticide on his dried betel nut plants. Raju says if he agrees then I will send him to your farm tomorrow. Why wouldn’t he agree? Hegde’s question explains the relationship between him and Pedro. The latter cannot refuse. The very next day, as Pedro sprays pesticides on the plants, Hegde announces that the drunken guard at the farm is dead and that he needs to go to the deceased’s home to retrieve the gun that was given to him. The job of keeping pigs and monkeys away. As Hegde goes back after collecting the weapons, he gives Pedro the gun and orders him to act as the new guard.
Once again, Pedro has no choice. The very next day, he and his canine companion are on the field to patrol their vast expanses. An unpleasant incident enrages Pedro. In the heat of the moment, he acts hastily and sets off a chain of events that he has no way of controlling.
Natesh Hegde adopts an observational style in foreshadowing the fate of Pedro, who is left to deal with conflicts within and outside his family with an air of resignation. His exclusion is multifaceted. Pedro is separated by his family, his village, his community and, tangibly, a majority wave-riding nation. The upheaval in man’s life is expressed in a dramatic way, but when it ends, the restlessness becomes unsettling.
The film presents the rifts that separate the heroine from the people of the village, but through highly expressive images (Cinematographer: Vivek Urs) that communicate more than words can. Violence, no matter who does it and who it is directed at, is suggested, never acted upon on camera.
Pedro There is no background score either. The narrative unfolds against an evocative sound design (by Shreyank Nanjappa), mostly composed of birds chirping, animals purring, groans and growls, and winds blowing through the forest.
A few professional actors – NSD-trained Medini Kellmane as a woman who nurtures her plans in the role of rising instability and actor-director-screenwriter Raj B Shetty and determined to fix things – amateurs in the cast. give a lot of support. Not that they need it.
Gopal Hegde and the rest of the narrators ease into the narrative with such ease that at times it feels like we are watching real people go about their lives. Well, these actors are actually real people and the film they are in is firmly rooted in a concrete, specific place and time. This combination produces a fast-paced gem that shines bright while it delves into the depths of hatred and darkness into which the world has slipped.