The film is set in the year 1847 in the Kundapur village of Karnataka. The King of this area is not happy with his life which lacks peace. He keeps trying to find it, and when he comes across a deity near a forest, he finally achieves peace. He makes an agreement with the villagers there and exchanges the forest lands for the deity. Years later in the 1990’s, trouble started when the King’s successors demanded the lands back. The Forest Department also becomes a problem for the villagers as they start encroaching on the woodland area. Shiva (Rishab Shetty), an easy going guy, takes responsibility and revolts against them. The rest of the film showcases villagers’ fight against the landlords and the Forest Department.
Shiva lives in a small tribal hamlet with his mother. An unforgettable incident that he had witnessed during his childhood makes him stay away from the traditional Bhoota Kola legacy. He is a vagabond and is happy loafing around with his friends and doing petty jobs for his landlord (Achyut Kumar).
When Forest officer Murali (Kishore) enters the scene, it gives a fresh dimension to the man-vs-nature fight. The film kicks off at a scorching pace. The introduction of a divine spirit that watches over the forest and a stirring Kambala buffalo race within the first 15 minutes or so of the film set the tone. Getting accustomed to sensory overload takes a while. However, once the film’s design reveals itself in all its splendour, everything falls into place and draws the audience into the spellbinding Kantara (literally, mystical forest) universe.
The introduction of a divine spirit that watches over the forest and a stirring Kambala buffalo race within the first 15 minutes or so of the film set the tone. Getting accustomed to sensory overload takes a while. However, once the film’s design reveals itself in all its splendour, everything falls into place and draws the audience into the spellbinding Kantara (literally, mystical forest) universe
Leela (Saptami Gowda), a newly appointed forest guard, is initially caught in the crossfire between the villagers and the Forest Department. But she quickly takes a stand, which puts Shiva in trouble. Landlord, who is also the successor of the dynasty, and now a local politician, also has his eyes on the ancestral property.
A storyline embellished with technical brilliance makes this film a unique experience. Kantara is a Rishab Shetty show all the way. He shines as the Director as well as the protagonist. The cinematography pulls filmgoers into the film and makes them a part of it. The first half has a very engaging storyline and apt comedy with quirky one-liners in coastal dialect makes the film engrossing. The second half, however, delves deep into the actual story of culture and tradition, blended with a little bit of mystery.
Kantara is a good entertainer; especially the climax is all goosebumps. Rishab Shetty is completely terrific in the role of Shiva. He portrayed the emotions to perfection throughout the film. The love track between Rishab and Sapthami Gowda is handled very well. The actress looked alluring, and she did her part well. Other artists like Achyuth Kumar and Kishore Kumar got good roles with more prominence to this story and were good in it. The action scenes are solid and engaging.