Ravindra Parameshwarappa makes his directorial debut with the epic crime thriller Yellow Gangs, which he co-wrote with Praveen Kumar G. The opening credits have a pulpy comic book vibe, which perfectly encapsulates the gritty, grimy lives of the large number of characters followed. Is this style and intensity something the first-time filmmaker can keep up throughout the 133-minute runtime?
The Kannada-language film begins proper on a drug deal. By all accounts, it goes as smoothly as possible. Money is exchanged, drugs are put into the jeep, and off all parties go. Unfortunately, the criminals driving the jeep use the yellow powder and almost cause a few accidents. Well, in order to avoid a head-on collision, they veer off the road, ramming into a wall. The other driver checks on them only to discover they’re dead. This person just so happens to be a police detective. News of this does not sit well with the drug lord Ushna (Arun Kumar). He gets his two lackeys, Prabhu (Natya Ranga) and Seena (Vittal Rangayana), to figure out how to get his product back.
Meanwhile, corrupt officer Vikram (Dev Devaiah) must deal with the demands of Ushna and the pressures from his higher-ups. This is intertwined with his chaotic personal life, as his girlfriend, Priya (Archana Kottige), cannot marry a cop no matter how much she loves him. Then there’s the accountant (Sriharsha H.S.), whose home is being used as a drug hideaway. Of course, all this captures the attention of rival gangs, who think this might be their chance to gain the upper hand.
“…corrupt officer Vikram must deal with the demands of Ushna and the pressures from his higher-ups.”
Yellow Gangs is epic and engaging, though some subplots go nowhere. Prabhu and Seena figure out how to use a nearby jewelry store to break into the police station. This is soon left behind in favor of a carjacking thread that abruptly enters the picture. There’s also not enough with the detective, who was a (small) part of the beginning accident.
Still, Parameshwarappa directs with energy and flair. The various chases and shootouts, which mainly take place at the end, are exciting. Plus, the characters are interesting. Seena just naps everywhere (narcolepsy is never mentioned, so it’s not that) but also remembers everything. This adds humor without breaking the high-stakes game of life or death everyone is playing. Priya is so determined and intelligent that it is satisfying when she reveals things even Vikram doesn’t know.
Of course, it helps that the cast is outstanding. Devaiah plays his character as quite conflicted, giving dimension to a somewhat standard part. Kumar is menacing, while Ranga and Rangayana play off each other perfectly. Kottige is effortlessly charming, stealing the entire movie from every other actor. Whenever she appears, the screen just lights up.
Yellow Gangs does not follow through on all of its subplots, meaning the runtime does feel a bit long. But the direction is kinetic and keeps the momentum steady for the most part. The cast is good, especially Priya is so enchanting that all of her actions make total sense.
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"…Priya is so enchanting that all of her actions make total sense."