In director Hemanth M Rao’s Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Side A), Manu (essayed by Rakshit Shetty), and Priya (Rukmini Vasanth) were inseparable. The second instalment of the two-part relationship drama, Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Side B), still revolves around them, albeit the fact that we witness their story from Manu’s eyes. Priya’s presence in the story evokes sympathy in us, and yet, we don’t see her reacting to her fate like she did in SSE (Side A).
This approach justifies the film’s dark tone, and as we watch the plot that offers little surprises, we are also more or less prepared for the expected impending doom. Ten years after Manu’s hasty decision landed him in jail and put an end to his relationship with Priya, Manu gets released from prison. However, he is far from free. Manu’s house resembles a prison, with little space or light for him to settle in. Manu enslaves his soul by constantly thinking about Priya.
Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Side B)
Director: Hemanth M Rao
Cast: Rakshit Shetty, Chaithra J Achar, Rukmini Vasanth, Ramesh Indira, Achyuth Kumar
Runtime: 147 minutes
Story: Manu gets released from jail after 10 years and tries to build a new life. However, memories of Priya haunt him. Will he meet her again?
Manu begins to like Surabhi (Chaithra J Achar), a sex worker. He is drawn to her because she appears like her. Otherwise, Surabhi and Priya are poles apart. While the latter finds the sea to be therapeutic, the former finds it humid and sticky. Surabhi gives the impression of being Priya, but she is far from her, a fact that Manu may or may not know.
Priya is married with a son. Manu decides to meet her one last time before deciding to move on, and that’s when the plot kicks in. Hemanth replaces the conventional style of storytelling with his back-and-forth narration. By doing that, he plays with the viewers’ feelings. They deplore reality by wondering what could have happened had Manu and Priya united. Even when Manu learns about Priya’s life, it’s not through the horse’s mouth. Hemanth narrates it by intercutting between Manu’s conversations with her brother Priya and his meetings with her husband Deepak.
Can the story move forward without Priya’s husband being an incompetent person? Isn’t it natural for Manu to eventually lead a life with Surabhi? Hemanth’s answer is yes and no.
The story remains a tad plain, but the director subverts the usual tropes of a tragic love story by giving a vulnerable side to his characters. The dialogues are delightfully abrupt and are coated with a tinge of sarcasm; they give you the feel of watching a Mani Ratnam film.
The execution, like in all Hemanth films, overshadows the convenient writing (Hemanth has written the story with Gundu Shetty). Advaitha’s cinematography gets right into the heart of Bengaluru’s underbelly. Manu’s life heads towards a point of no return, and the dingy locations combined with the harsh colour tones reflect the consequences of Manu’s one hasty decision. If Charan Raj provoked sadness in SSE (Side A), the composer’s score keeps us tensed on the edge of our seats in SSE Side B.
SSE Side B is Hemanth’s deep dive into Manu’s character. Manu wanted Priya to sing all her life and have a house by the seashore. The film shows what lengths he goes to achieve that. Manu is flawed and morally wrong. Hemanth has no qualms about mirroring such a personality. But he walks a tightrope while doing that, careful enough to not glorify Manu’s doing. For instance, Manu endlessly stalks Priya, but the camera is mainly focused on his eyes to portray his despair, or he is shown through a long shot as if he is more of an observer than someone who follows a person. Even Manu’s rigidness to not forget Priya feels like a nod to the iconic Devdas, though Hemanth doesn’t milk the self-destructive nature of it.
One wishes the film had gotten deep into Priya’s mind. Apart from her mundane life, we don’t know if she still holds on to her memories with Manu. The film should have let the Surabhi-Manu relationship bloom further. Surabhi’s tough temperament masks her desires and her child-like heart. Chaithra, with a playful green, portrays the character brilliantly. The film should have let the Surabhi-Manu relationship bloom further. Ramesh Indira’s villainous act and Gopalakrishna Deshpande’s performance are excellent despite the lack of inventiveness in the characters.
Rakshit Shetty delivers a career-best performance. With his beefed-up personality, scarred face, and gloomy eyes, he wears the decade-old pain of heartbreak on his personality. Even in the stylishly realistic fight sequence, in the end, he never forgets the pulse of his character to become a ‘mass’ hero.
SSE (Side B), similar to its predecessor, is more about the journey than the result. The result had a strong inevitably to it. But if you travelled with the characters throughout their journey, then this is a love story that will remain with you for a long time.
Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (Sid B) is running in theatres