Kantara is a 2022 Indian Kannada language action drama film. The film stars Shetty as a Kambala champion who is at loggerheads with an upright forest officer, Murali, played by Kishore. Kantara was released on 30 September 2022 and received acclaim from critics.
‘Kantara’ begins with a king seeking for peace and happiness within his palace. Eventually, he sets out on a pilgrimage and comes across a stone deity. The movie talks about ‘Panjurli’ Daiva, Varaha Roopa which protects the forest and its resources. The movie explains how the deity is emotionally attached to the village and the forest, and that the deity would do anything to protect it from evil forces.
The film begins in 1947 when the local king grants land to the indigenous people of the village, hoping that their god, or rather Demi-god, Panjurli Daiva will bless him. All the stakeholders are happy until we fast forward to 1970 when the local landlord, the descendant of the same king, demands that he wants his land back.
In the film’s final scenes, the tension between Shiva and Murali attains its peak when a huge tree in the forest falls on Murali’s car, while he was headed to arrest Shiva after the landlord’s henchman, Sudhakara provided a tip. The landlord instructs Shiva to run but he is soon arrested along with his friends. Things intensify when it is discovered that Shiva’s brother Guruvan the Kola performer has been murdered.
However, Shiva’s mentor informs him the truth behind Guruvan’s murder and he heads back to inform the villagers. There, Shiva finds Murali, who is already informing the villagers of the landlord’s misdeeds. Shiva joins hands with Murali as the landlord is on his way to kill the villagers, including Shiva and Murali. Following a clash, Shiva passes out after getting severely wounded. Soon, the Guligan deity possesses him giving him immense strength and he decapitates the landlord and his henchmen.
The film ends with Shiva accepting his role as the Kola performer possessed by Panjurli for the Bhoota Kola festival. He yearns for peace between Murali and the other villagers. Shiva runs off to the forest and seemingly finds his father and disappears into the light.
Lord Panjurli performs the traditional Bhoota Kola dance. Later, the demi-god hears the shriek of his ancestor from the forest and merges with the forest similarly dissolving into a circle of fire. Writer Rishabh Shetty conveys the existence of divine power and the strength of the deity to eradicate everything wrong through various imagery.