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Lucia (Pawan Kumar, 2013)

Big hype was made about this film because it is the first film in Kannada to be funded fully by the audience, meaning not a single penny was taken from a production company, but was funded wholly through donations from social media and fans. The film is about a small pill (a hallucinogen) which, when consumed allows you to live your fantasies in your dreams. This means that while you’re asleep, you have complete “sub-conscious” control over what you do and say in a dream.

Lucia is a film of good intentions and it’s very interesting in its portrayal of the hazy line between reality and fiction. However, I couldn’t help but feel that Pawan Kumar, when conceiving this film, had a great idea for a beginning and an end, but nothing for the middle hour and a half. And it shows… the first 10-15 minutes of Lucia are incredible. The characters are whimsical and fascinating, the credit sequence is one of the best in Indian cinema, and the mystery that is set up about the titular hallucinogen is very intriguing. Kumar’s influence in the beginning is clear, he is a student of Nolan (in concept) and Aronofsky (in style).

But the dream run of a script ends there. We spend the next hour and a half dilly-dallying between the central character Nikki’s 2 loves, and his ongoing problems in life. In reality, he is a torch-boy at a local theater making barely enough to live and knowing absolutely zero English, in his dreams he is a superstar actor who stars in several masala movies where he flips cars and beats up 10 bad buys with his pinky-toe. The tonal shift here between a gritty thriller to this rom-com musical is hard to swallow. Even harder to digest is the shift back to gritty thriller when the film spirals down to its expected and eye-rolling twist, which actually would have been brilliant had Kumar not made the rom-com section of the movie so damn long and tedious.

Overall, it never sticks to one theme, and submits to Kannada cinema’s masala tendencies by cramming in as much of each genre as it can to a single story. The mystery ruins the innocence of the romance, and the romance in turn ruins the excitement of the mystery.


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