Maya Kannadi review: A gripping campus thriller that busts illusions

First-time director Vinod Poojary uses a 2016 global social network phenomenon to build his intriguing suspense thriller

Rating: 3.5 /5

After a long wait, first-time director Vinod Poojary’s campus thriller Maya Kannadi [2020] has hit the screens today [28 February].  The principal cast consists of Prabhu Mundkur, K. S. Sridhar, Anoop Sagar, and Anvitha Sagar. Having watched the film, we firmly believe this is a coming of age campus thriller.  New wave cinema is on rise in the country but there is more than one reason why you should watch Maya Kannadi.

Doing away from traditional format of reviewing, we felt it would be best to give you 10 reasons that make Maya Kannadi a must-watch.

1 Innovative story

Critics often complain of Indian cinema having a dearth of good stories. Maya Kannadi will satiate your appetite for innovative concept. While it is a campus crime thriller, the director cleverly incorporates a 2016 global social network phenomenon into his story. To the best of our knowledge, no filmmaker has touched upon this subject in a feature before.

2 Non-linear screenplay

Straight-jacket narratives are convenient, but the mark of a true filmmaker is how he handles non-linear storytelling.  For a first-time filmmaker, Vinod Poojary shows great maturity by resorting to a non-linear story telling. The film has fine engagement level, and the non-linear narrative only adds to its intrigue element.

3 New shades to Prabhu Mundkur

While Prabhu Mundkur has featured in a crime drama before – Urvi [2017], Maya Kannadi [2020] is altogether a different beast where we get to see not one but three shades to Mundkur.  Sandy [Mundkur] is intrigued by suicides in his college.  This is a job for the cops, investigative agencies, but you do question why Sandy is being so inquisitive about the suicides? Is he a private detective? Who has hired him?  He’s cocky to begin with, that makes you question his motive. There is a certain element of grey shade to his character too.  Mundkur portrays the different shades admirably.    

4 Tulu actress Kaajal Kunder graduates to Kannada cinema with Maya Kannadi

She chips in with powerful performance. Priya [Kunder] is a sensitive character who charms us with her simplicity. Anvitha Sagar had received great acclaim as Aadya from the Zee Kannada show Gattimela [2020].  Madhu [Anvitha] is a bubbly girl who is madly in love with Sandy.  Sagar and Mundkur share a great chemistry between them.

5 Anoop Sagar – The bad who you will love

 Having started his career as a hero, Sagar played a villain in his next Dhand [2016]. It was this performance that led to Poojary picking Sagar to play Golden Guru in Maya Kannadi. Sagar does full justice to his character leaving you impressed with his villainous act.

6 Soothing romantic music

We live in times where music has often become secondary. It is here that Poojary produces some fine melodies.  The Biddagide and Kelu Jaaneye song were well received, credit to composer to Abhishek SN who has also crooned the Kelu Jaaneye.

7 Background score

Rajavikram’s riveting background score serves as a character unto itself, thereby elevating overall experience. His background music leaves you spellbound.

8 A social message for the virtual world

What good is a film, if ain’t carry a social message. Thrillers usually are about entertainment, but beneath the tragedies lies a subtle, pertinent message for the youth, who are easily distracted by the virtual world. Maya Kannadi is a reminder why any addiction is dangerous for a person’s well-being.  Besides, the film also rightly condemns body shaming.

9 Fine visual appeal

Maya Kannadi means a mirror of illusion, but there’s no illusion to the defining visuals captured by Mani Kookal Nair.  The natural beauty of Mangalore is well captured. What caught our imagination were the scenes shot at a lighthouse and a helipad.  The helipad scene to highlight Sandy’s vertigo is efficiently shot.

10 Strong human bonds

Thrillers don’t always bring the family together, but there is a reason why Maya Kannadi is apt for community viewing. This stems from the strong human bonds between the principal characters.  The father-daughter bond is the highlight of the film. Seasoned actor K S Sridhar moves you with an emotionally gripping show.

But the film is not without a few cons.

While we found plenty of pros but there are few cons too.  While the humour is appreciable, but it could have been curbed a bit.  The film has a right pace. The ‘whoodunit’ plot is brought out nicely, but the ‘whydunit’ aspect is a little stretched.  The film could have been trimmed by 10 odd minutes here.

The few cons are disappointing for Maya Kannadi had potential to be a great modern thriller. Nevertheless, it’s a tremendous effort by a first-time director. Vinod Poojary emerges as a fine young director who can help the new wave cinema to grow.

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