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An impactful drama on the dark side of religious politics   

An impactful drama on the dark side of religious politics 

Express News Service

For a long time, Vinu Balanja has been part of popular serials like Preethi Illada Mele and Love Lavike. But as with any creative mind, he seems to have found it hard to quench the fire of ambition while making a transition to the silver screen with Bera. However, the director did not choose an easy subject, especially as his story delves into thought-provoking content about communal clashes.

The film’s rushes gave a hint about the title and its content, which further fueled curiosity among the viewers. Vinu who has also penned the story, has audaciously embarked on a journey that takes the viewers through the sensitive religious belief system.

The entire film is set in the coastal belt of Kalladaka and revolves around two leaders, Asadulla (Sunil Puranik and Keshavanand, (Aravind Rao) representing different communities. They engage in a power struggle and both attempt to influence two friends, Saleem (Yash Shetty) and Vishnu (Rakesh Maiyya), who organise an ancient coin exhibition.

The mysterious presence of the four divine pillars in Saleem’s room, and lamps, leads to dire consequences. While Asadulla wants Saleem to remove the pillars of an ancient temple that obstruct the exhibition, Keshavanand insists on preserving the pillars and promises protection to Saleem and Vishnu. Amidst these tensions, rumours circulate about the impending murder of the friends. Police Inspector Vivek (Ashwin Hassan), is tasked with safeguarding the two friends. What happens to Saleem and Vishnu forms the crux of Bera’s story.

Without a doubt, Vinu Balanja has chosen an excellent subject that sheds light on the tragic killings of innocent youths in the name of caste and religion. While the director has brought justification to the title Bera, a Tulu word that translates as ‘Business,’ accompanied by the intriguing tagline ‘Merchant of Death,’ he seems to be giving it all for the transition from serials to films. Although he has brought in the importance of safeguarding young minds from being caught in the crossfire of religious and political conflicts, he fails when it comes to the execution of the thought.

Another drawback is the conversation-based approach sans intensity, an inherent characteristic of such narratives. Without any song or comedy, the grimness becomes too tedious for the audience. In terms of performance, Yash Shetty has given his best in a film that predominantly focuses on him, but the role does not offer much opportunity to showcase his versatility. Rakesh Maiya, a popular television actor, has a limited presence. Aravind Rao convincingly portrays a malicious leader from a particular community, and the same goes for Sunil Puranik, Manjunath Hegde, and Anjali. It is Dattanna and Shine Shety who initiate the story and deliver an impactful climax, despite their brief appearance.

Veteran actor Suman Talwar’s character is not well etched as he only appears in a few scenes. Ashwin Hassan, a character actor, delivers a decent performance. It is nice to see Harshika Poonacha portraying a unique role, which has a lot of depth.

With no songs, Manikanth Kadri fails to hold much intensity with his background score. Except for some close-up shots, the cinematographer’s work is mediocre. The film effectively portrays how political leaders manipulate the innocence of the youth by instilling religious sentiments for personal gain. Bera comes across as a timely film worth watching if you’re interested in understanding how community leaders with vested interests create law and order issues.

Director: Vinu Balanja
Cast:  Yash Shetty, Rakesh Maiya, Suman, Harshika Poonacha, Ashwin Hassan, 
Sunil Puranik and Aravind Rao
Rating: 2.5/5

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