When Kenny met Kung Fu

Local Kung-Fu finally hit the theaters nationwide, and some of our readers have written to us about what they felt watching the film.

-Juba Pratim Gogoi

Tezpur University was co-hosting the fifth Guwahati International film festival from 21 to 28 April 2013 and ‘Local Kungfu’ by Kenny Deori Basumatary (Kenny DB) was one of the two films from the region among the total of 18 films in the package. Being a co-organizer we saw an average response during the festival until ‘Local Kungfu’ came as our savior. The film got the widest response from its audience and the one and half hour of non-stop laughter was the testimony of it. As the film itself assures – ‘Fresh and Healthy Entertainment’ which is suggested in its tagline, lives up to its mark.

The plot of the film is simple and common. It starts abruptly, but time and again makes it a point to let the viewers know that Charlie, the protagonist is not the native of Guwahati and is staying with his uncle who runs a martial arts school. While trying to impress the uncle of his Malayali-Assamese mix’ girlfriend ‘Sumi’ he gets entangled with the local goons. They challenge him to a duel. If he wins the combat, he takes away the girl and lives in peace and if he loses he will never come to the city.

A film critic or a serious film lover may not like the film or may well point out dozens of flaws in the film. It may be the shallow and loose storyline, the amateurishness of the characters, the unpredictability of the camera works, the editing and many more. But what is so ‘local’ and appealing about the film is its simplicity and its gimmicks that flow out from the characters spontaneously throughout the film. Now, if someone asks me what is so unique in the film? To it, I have number of reasons to say that the film is ‘fun-tastic’.

“Why?” Here we are, the style statement of the film itself is denoted by the name ‘Local Kungfu’, where Kungfu is garnished with local ‘Axomiya’ spice. ‘Charlie’ often runs with stomach trouble whenever he is nervous and there is his girlfriend ‘Sumi’ who threatens a chap with a butcher’s knife saying that her brother is in ‘DLFG- Delhi Liberation Front of Goregaon’. ‘Bonzo’, another character who self-declares to be the upcoming ‘Number One under eighteen Don’ and that too in a local city bus conductor style.  There is the villain whose caller tune is the sound effect of kicks & punches. You have another dozens of laughter doses like an overweight karate goon who hums raga, a bad guy with a plastered smile all through the film, a perfect spoof of Ekta kapoor’s camera angles and serials, a cleverly placed PSA-in-disguise ‘Guthka khana swasth ke liye haani karak hai’, the ‘LSD formula to nab the ‘naked thief’ and many more. But overall it is the non-seriousness and irreverence of the film which hits the chord from the first shot itself. In short you will never get a spare time to stop laughing.

Apart from the comedy part, it is the genuineness of the stunts without using any rope tricks or any CGI effects and the well-designed choreography that stole the show. The film never showed any blood neither did the sound effects played an extra ‘dishoom-dishoom’ in the film. All that came out from Kenny and his team was raw and fresh. My favourite part was two action sequences which had the ‘Requiem of a Dream’ wala montage effect and a slice of Takashi Kitano humour mixed with the non-seriousness of Andaz Apna Apna. The editor deserves praise for that. The songs are dry but you are sure to hum them at least once. I can never forget the song ‘Number one under eighteen don is Bonzo…!’.

As I mentioned earlier, many may comment on the film as being amateurish. Yes, I did feel it too at times. Few scenes seemed to be totally out of the film and way too sub-standard. The background ambience seemed to be too noisy than the scenes and camera movements jumping from one to another. But come on! It is a film made with a budget of less than a lakh and is shot with canon 550D with an effect good enough to be called ‘the first pure indie action comedy film of India’. I doubt Akshay Kumar’s ‘Chandni Chowk to China’ (a multi crore action comedy) that turned out to be a disaster would even come close to Local Kungfu in the respect of the action sequences and the subtleness of the characters. It is sure that the big production houses needs to learn few lessons from Kenny about how to economize the budget of a film.

This was all Kenny and his small team of Karate chaps are all about. It is his vision guts and his sheer passion that he, who has written, acted, directed and also edited the film made it possible for us to see such splendour on screen. This is not an art film, but the way the film has been made has somehow inherited the gene of art. Let’s not flatter, but yes indeed, the film may possibly show the way how an action film be made with meagre budget and in due course it may possibly be identified as a cult film.

To make the audiences laugh genuinely is the craft of a film maker and Kenny has successfully did the job fairly well. Hope he and his team does (a kind of) a Jackie Chan.  Do catch the film in a ‘Kenny DB Kungfu style’…anyhow.

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