In 2021, Manu finally gets out of prison, straight into the pandemic. He’s got nothing to his name except the memory of Priya and the one cassette with her voice recording on it. With the help of one of his prison mates, he sets out to make a new life, even though he’s still very much swimming in the sea which is his love for Priya. Immediately, Side B starts off with a bang, and there’s no time wasted as we dive straight into Manu’s new story. Although Manu is stuck on Priya and wants to rekindle his lost love with her, there’s a new woman in his life, Surabhi. Side A was the calm before the storm, whereas the 2023 film, Sapta Sagaradaache Ello—Side B is the storm itself. The film is much faster in pace than the first one, but contrary to my expectations of it being a complete revenge thriller, one could argue that there’s more love here than in Side A.
Melancholy is the language of this film, yet with every two sentences, there’s something to laugh about. Hemanth Rao creates an alluring narrative that will leave you wondering what’s coming next. This isn’t to say that the film is something absolutely new and unique, but the way it’s packaged and presented makes it pretty fantastic. The first half of the film is definitely snappier and pretty much perfect, but the second half does get a little bit slow in pacing, similar to Side A. Some editing could’ve made this a 5-star film, but it’s still a mass entertainer. Manu is not your typical South Indian hero; he’s a flawed character who is burdened by regrets, which makes us deeply empathize with him. There are some problematic elements in this story, specifically the fact that Manu essentially becomes a stalker and Soma’s character has very many issues (even being a villain), but I’m willing to look past them because of the overall effect of the film. Rakshit Shetty slaughters this performance and presents Biryani that you will lick clean from your fingers. This is a demanding role, which goes from a puppy-eyed lover boy to a revenge-struck and morally torn loner. Although he is a perfect “mass” action hero, he shines the most in the emotional scenes, with the most subtle of eyebrow movements or body language that gives you a full picture. Rukmani Vasanth continues to be her charming self as Priya, with her stern yet innocent presence that is arresting, to say the least, but the highlight of this film has to be Chaitra Achar, who plays the sex worker Surabhi. She’s captivating and so charming that even with Shetty in the same frame, you’re most definitely going to be paying attention to her. The chemistry between these characters is absolutely absorbing, and there’s no way you won’t be feeling for them.
Soma continues to be one of the most disgusting villains I’ve ever seen, and Ramesh Indira needs more than awards for this revolting performance. On the other hand, Prabhu, played by Achyuth Kumar, has a smaller role than one would imagine. The Kannada film industry has recently become the talk of the town thanks to the Shettys making waves in the box office for the past few years. Sapta Sagaradaache Ello—Side B is a testament to the fantastical stories that are yet to come our way. The soundtrack of this film does half the work because it’s such an immersive experience. Additionally, the rock version of the title track is something else! This is definitely a film to watch in the cinema because the sound design is really something to pay attention to. From the sounds of waves and that of a man chewing to silence, everything is well-timed with an epic background score of violins that will leave you in tears. The epic action sequence is shot with the same grit as a John Wick sequence, but for a movie like this one, it comes across as a little bit too long.
Hemanth Rao uses color to tell his story, and while Side A is a serene blue, Side B is a passionate red. There’s no subtlety in this, but it’s still stunning to see. A lot of the film is shot through reflections, which is in itself a reflection of Manu’s character and everything that torments him. Given the situation, a lot of the sequences in this film are dreamy, making for the perfect big-screen watch. We’ve seen heartbreak in films more than enough times, yet it’s something we keep going back to (you know, another’s drama is always better than one’s own). Although this is obviously a fictional story, there’s a lot of realism to the feelings that all the characters go through, which helps us form a bond with them. This is some Shakespearean storytelling, and I’m honestly all for it. This movie is very much focused on Manu’s point of view, similar to Side A, and one can’t expect anything more.
For the big question, is Sapta Sagaradaache Ello—Side B as good as Side A or even better? Personally, I found Side B much more wholesome and an all-around better film (I know a lot of people are going to fight me on this). Additionally, I can imagine Side B as a stand-alone film too. Side A was the high tide of Manu and Priya’s love story, while Side B was the low tide, receding to its furthest extent. At the end of the day, this is a South Indian mass film, much more than its Indie little sister, but even if you’re not a fan of those (like myself), it’s going to keep you engaged. There are many scenes in this film that make it memorable, and whatever you’re here for—romance, action, comedy, or just to cry—you’ll get everything in 2 hours and 27 minutes. Sexual references, profanity, and violence are all prevalent in this film. I’d give Sapta Sagaradaache Ello—Side B 4 out of 5 stars.