Direction: Pawan Kumar
Actors: Ninasam Sathish, Sruthi Hariharan
Bollywood masala remakes of Telugu and Tamil films have managed to give the south a bad rep. In such times, Pawan Kumar's Lucia, a Kannada film with English subtitles, comes as a redeemer.
It is experimental, story-driven, and the only time you get to see a slow-mo baddies-flying action sequence (something we've come to associate with south films and their Rohit Shetty versions) is when the director is spoofing it.
If concept alone made great cinema, Lucia would rank up there with the best Indian films in recent times. Unfortunately, it falters in execution, as the story drags and meanders through 135 minutes and multiple item numbers.
From the beginning, the film traces two stories – one real, the other a drug-induced hallucination; one in colour, the other in crisp black-and-white.
Nikhil, or Nikki (Ninasam Sathish), is a film buff and an usher at a ramshackle movie theatre in one version, and a movie star in the other. Think pre- and post-rebirth Shah Rukh Khans from Om Shanti Om, but with one version playing out in the head. Lucia is the drug causing the dream; a sub-plot has a police team investigating a related case.
Kumar deserves credit for giving credibility to an idea that is fantastic. He is also able to add humour, and some serious reflection on the slow death of standalone theatre and the threat to Kannada cinema from the mass-ier Telugu and Tamil industries. There's also a twist ending you don't see coming.
Yet, by the time you get there, the intensity has waned. Lucia still stands apart, but Kumar is no David Fincher, and Nikki, no Tyler Durden.