Ganesh’s latest film Auto Raja, which released across Karnataka on Friday is an entertaining commercial film. As commercial films come, this one packs all the ‘masala,’ needed to keep the audience engaged and hooked. What it lacks however, is the punch that would make the film a must watch. There are no blockbuster scenes in the film. For example, Saarathi had three scenes; the auto chase, the Chamundi statue in front of a waterfall and the cattle stampede, which made the film look glorious. In Auto Raja, despite all the right ingredients there is no such ‘wow’ scene.
As for the right ingredients there is the example of this dialogue, “Chek in history who got Monsoon rains just by dialogues,” which Ganesh mouths to thunderous applause by fans. Then there are the songs. Arjun Janya is at his best. He manages to create some really interesting tunes which adds big time to the entertainment value of Auto Raja. Shankar Nag’s memory is evoked every once in a while. Ganesh speaking like Shankar Nag as RJ Shankar is a treat to watch. Cinematography by Manjunath Nayak is a visual treat. There is so much colour in every frame that makes the film look like a lavish candyfloss.
There are also the negatives as mentioned above. The film seriously lacks the emotional depth. Even if there were no big action scenes, emotional scenes could have filled the void. In Mungaru Male, it was the scenes with heart rending and emotionally charged dialogues that did the trick along with the Jog Falls and other visual action scenes. In Auto Raja, the long dialogues by Ganesh are there for the sake of it and not for the scene. So the impact is less.
The story is about ‘Auto Raja’ Ganesh who will do anything to help people in need. He is for the record, a ‘good’ auto driver. He takes up a challenge to talk host a show on a FM radio station after being upset by remarks against auto drivers. He falls in love with a Bhama who has come to Bangalore to act in movies. She travels in his auto and is helped by the ‘RJ,’ who she does not know is actually the auto driver himself. Ganesh’s identity as the RJ is kept a secret. Ganesh loves Bhama while Bhama begins to love the elusive RJ. Another RJ begins to love Ganesh. When it is time for Ganesh and Bhama to come face to face, evil strikes.
There are enough elements in the story to keep the momentum going. After the interval, the films begins to drag for about 30 minutes. The climax is delayed and therefore the impact is reduced despite it being unusual. The film is a treat for Ganesh’s ardent fans. As for the others, the jury is out.