Film: 'Mr. Theertha'; Cast: Sudeep, Anant Nag, Saloni, Geetha, Avinash, Shobharaj and others; Screenplay writer-Director: Sadhu Kokila; Producer: Pavamana Creations; Music: Guru Kiran; Camera: Dasari Seenu; Rating: ***
Director Sadhu Kokila's claim of writing the story and screenplay for his new directorial venture 'Mr. Theertha' has to be taken with a pinch of salt.
Sadhu has exhibited a rare courage, which is not uncommon in the Kannada film industry, to take the credit for writing the screenplay and story of 'Mr. Theertha', which is actually a remake of Mohan Lal-starrer 1995 Malayalam hit 'Sphatikam'.
The original Malayalam film was directed by Bharathan. When it released, it had been considered a cult by a section of critics, while ardent movie buffs felt that 'Sphatikam' had just a decent story and fantastic performances by Mohan Lal and Thilakan.
The Malayalam film was later remade in Telugu as 'Vajram' and a few years later as 'Viraappu' in Tamil. But both the versions didn't work at the box office.
Surprisingly 'Mr. Theertha', which has been made at a shoestring budget, looks better than the other two remakes, mainly because of lead artists' performances.
Most of the sequences in 'Mr. Theetha' would remind you of 'Sphatikam' and the cosmetic changes made by Sadhu Kokila have not altered the main focus of the film.
Sadhu Kokila has included a comedy sub plot in the script that has a message for the star-struck fans. The strength of 'Mr. Theertha' is that it has retained all the good points of 'Sphatikam' while ignoring the strong native elements in the original.
The original revolved around a Christian family of a disciplined father and his technically innovative lorry driver son. In 'Mr. Theertha', Sadhu has retained the main essence, but has made certain changes that suit the local milieu.
Another highlight of the film is the background music which makes a strong impact.
However, the flaws in the film may affect the film's commercial viability. In the narrative, first few sequences look like a television serial, though the pattern changes a little later.
The songs, some of which were shot abroad, do not make a big impact either with their compositions or choreography. The film gains momentum only after the entry of Shobharaj, who plays an autocratic police inspector. After that there are no dull moments in the movie.
The story goes like this: Narayana Shastri (Anant Nag) is a National Award winning mathematics teacher and wants his son Teertha (Sudeep) to be a mathematical wizard. But Theertha is innovative and is involved in creating a motorbike which runs on limited fuel. Shastri neither likes his son's profession nor his fight against injustice.
The local politician's wife wants to punish Theertha for attacking her rowdy brother. She takes the help of a police officer who uses a diabolic plan to settle scores with Theertha by escalating tensions in his family which further divide the family.
Meanwhile, Theertha is on a mission to save the son of the local politician who has been targeted by the politician's wife and her goons. Finally, the misunderstandings between father and son are cleared and they are united.
Theertha's character is likeable because of high class performances by Sudeep and veteran actor Anant Nag too have given a brilliant performance. In fact, the two have competed to outdo each other in confrontation sequences. Sudeep has done a fantastic job in some of the emotional sequences. Anant Nag scores in the hospital sequence.
Geetha, Neenaasam Aswath, Avinash, Shobharaj have done well in their respective roles. Sadhu's comedy sequences are really enjoyable.
'Mr. Theertha' is a watchable film for Sudeep fans. Despite being a remake version, the film has some strengths that can attract the audience.