Review: ‘The Tortoise, an Incarnation’

An initially intriguing but unduly protracted drama by Indian writer-director Girish Kasaravalli.

Aging civil servant Anand Rao isn’t really Mahatma Gandhi — but he plays him on TV. Unfortunately, the improbable casting proves to be more of a penance than a blessing for the reluctant thesp in “The Tortoise, an Incarnation,” an initially intriguing but unduly protracted drama by Indian writer-director Girish Kasaravalli. Winner of the 2012 National Film Award for best feature film in Kannada, the pic may generate respectful interest, but muted enthusiasm, on the global fest circuit.

Rao (Shikaripura Krishnamurthy), a buttoned-down paper-pusher near retirement, is approached to play Gandhi in a TV serial after the originally cast actor is incapacitated. He has no acting experience whatsoever, but a desperate young director, along with Rao’s greedy son and daughter-in-law, push him to play the part. While studying Gandhi’s teachings, the sternly reserved Rao — heretofore emotionally reserved to the point of not weeping even when his wife died — increasingly assumes the emotional and philosophical attributes of the venerated holy man he’s portraying, with unexpectedly tragic results. Pic’s one comical scene has Rao as Gandhi exploited as a TV-commercial pitchman. Otherwise, it’s a long slog to an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending.

The Tortoise, an Incarnation



A Basant Prods. production. Produced by Basantkumar Patil, Amruta Patil. Executive producer, Prasanna Kumar. Directed, written by Girish Kasaravalli.


Camera (color), Bhaskar G S; editor, M N Swamy; music, Issac Thomas Kottakapalli; art director, Shashidhar Adapa; costume designer, Anu Kasaravalli; sound, Vasu; associate director, Apoorva Kasaravalli. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 9, 2012. Running time: 140 MIN.


Shikaripura Krishnamurthy, Jayanthi, Harish Raju, Cheswa, Rashmi Hari Prasad. (Kannada dialogue)

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 0

Leave a Reply

No Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More Film News from Variety