November 6, 2022
by Carla Hay
Directed by Amoghavarsha
Kannada with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in India, the documentary film “Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero” features actor Puneeth Rajkuma and director Amoghavarsha visiting several animal reserves to experience the wonders of nature.
Culture Clash: Rajkuma, who is used to be in urban environments, sometimes expresses concerns about safety when in jungle settings with wild animals that can kill humans.
Culture Audience: “Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero” will appeal primarily to people interested in documentaries about animal wildlife and seeing the last movie that Rajkuma filmed before his 2021 death at the age of 46.
“Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero” is an uplifting and joyful film but there’s a bittersweet tone that hangs over it because one of the stars of the movie passed away before the film was released. This nature documentary that has stunning cinematography is also a fitting tribute to actor Puneeth Rajkumar. The movie poignantly shows how he fulfilled his lifelong wishes of seeing tigers and elephants up-close before his untimely 2021 death of a heart attack at the age of 46.
Longtime nature documentarian Amoghavarsha directed “Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero” and is a tour guide/companion to Rajkumar during this journey where they visit several animal reserves throughout India. They got to places such as Nagarohole Tiger Reserve and BRT Tiger Reserve in Kanarkata, as well as Netrani Island, where they go deep-sea diving and camping in the forest. Amoghavarsha and Rajkumar also interact with the reserve employees and other local people.
The documentary includes some archival footage of Rajkumar as a child with his father Dr. Rajkumar, who was also a movie star. Dr. Rajkumar starred in the 1973 film “Gandhada Gudi,” in which he portrayed a forest officer who wants to protect the environment. Rajkumar says that his father loved that movie. “Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero” also shows Rajkumar visiting the house where he was born.
While at the PRT Tiger Reserve, Rajkumar expresses concern about elephants that are kept in a fenced-in area instead of roaming free. He wants to know if the elephants are being treated well. And even though Rajkumar is assured that the elephants are treated well, he isn’t convinced until he goes up to the elephants himself to see their physical condition and how they behave around humans. An adorable scene is when he pets a mother and a child elephant and feeds them grass.
“Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero,” which has enchanting and beautiful cinematography from Pratheek Shetty, might not be as impressive to viewers who are expecting more suspense and action. However, what makes the movie extra-appealing is seeing the joy and wonder in Rajkumar when he reacts to his surroundings and the animals who are in close proximity. (Rajkumar and Amoghavarsha are shown taking a lot of photos during this journey.) The movie has a message about not taking life for granted, and Rajkumar’s tragic passing just makes this message all the potent.
PRK Productions released “Gandhada Gudi: Journey of a True Hero” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on October 28, 2022.