MovieBuzz – Upendra

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Surreal Masterpiece by Upendra

This series of essays has always been one of my long-term goals. Initially, I did not plan to share them through my blog, but now I find myself compelled to articulate the deep meanings and interpretations in one of my most favorite movies known as “Upendra”.

The Journey in Dreamland

“Upendra,” a 1999 Kannada surrealist drama film that was both written and directed by himself. An internal review of this film, where the director stars as himself may look like nothing short of an act of narcissism. It is different though. I hope to find out why this title holds such great significance for me in all these episodes.

A Great Piece

To me, “Upendra” is his magnum opus. He had already created some notable films before this such as “Tarle Nan Maga”, “Operation Antha 2” and “Swasthik”. Also in his filmography are commercial hits like Om, A and Shhh!! which is characterized by random scene structures, seemingly disjointed narratives, unique marketing techniques and distinctly lyrical songs.

A Polarizing Masterpiece

As a piece that splits opinions, “Upendra” (1999), can either be loved or hated or considered as polarizing. What I never realized was that it would ignite my love for movies at the age of ten. Its title being an acrostic for the lead actors’ names: U(Upendra), Pe(Prema), Da(Damini) and Ra(Raveena Tandon).

Interpreting the Open-Ended Narrative

It took me some years to understand that there were many different ways in which this film could be interpreted. The story is suggestive but does not tell all; hence, it can have various readings. It deals with mainly human’s subconscious and conscious minds and presents an argument about how wrong and flawed humans are without imposing its moral judgments.

A Clever Narrative Structure

The audience thus becomes voyeurs of their own minds as the movie uses a complex narrative structure to undermine itself but employs a Vikram-Betal dynamic through stories told by individuals who seem to be up onstage on higher pedestals than we watching them from below. The subtle manipulation helps in preparing viewers for understanding a man who refuses to live according to set normatives.

Naanu: Reflection of Humanity

The main character, Naanu (Me), symbolizes all of humanity. What makes the film brilliant is that it makes the audience think about their own mental struggles through the life of a supposed madman. When audience identify with Vikram, they are supposed to see this as being about others and not themselves.


“Upendra” is a movie that challenges its viewers to view things beyond their outward appearances. It prompts introspection in order to offer a unique surrealistic coupled with deep psychological insights on the art of cinematography. I wish to use these series of essays for enlightening on the many layers within this picture and also genius behind Upendra’s creation.

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