Toby stands out from the ordinary, formulaic stories through its ability to evoke genuine empathy for its characters and immerse the audience in their struggles. The performances are so authentic that the line between acting and reality becomes almost imperceptible. The setting further enhances this authenticity, transporting viewers into a world that feels incredibly genuine.

However, the deliberate choice of a slow-paced narration ends up being a double-edged sword. While it effectively builds anticipation and engagement throughout the film, it also occasionally hinders the overall experience. The gradual development of the plot is captivating, particularly as it steadily progresses towards the climactic final act.

Nonetheless, there’s a flaw in the film’s structure that can’t be overlooked. The decision to extend the use of slow-motion scenes until the very end creates an uneven rhythm. These scenes, although artistically captivating, lose some of their impact due to their excessive presence. Similarly, the consistently deadpan nature of the characters, while initially intriguing, eventually leaves the audience longing for more depth and excitement.

As a result, the climax of the film falls somewhat short of its potential. The emotional payoff that should accompany the culmination of the story is somewhat diluted due to the prolonged pacing and the underwhelming character development. It’s a testament to the film’s strengths that despite these drawbacks, it remains engaging and moving, especially during its build-up to the final act.

Perhaps a dose of tempered expectations would have served well before stepping into the world of Toby. Regrettably, it was impossible to shake off the lingering impressions of Garuda Gamana Vrishabha Vahana and Kantara. The trailer and promotional material had cleverly woven a narrative that led me, along with likely many others, to anticipate Toby as a seamless fusion of the strengths of these two hits.

Yet, the reality of Toby falls short of this optimistic preconception. There’s a looming risk that Toby might inadvertently find itself labeled as the lesser sibling to Kantara, a label it might not entirely deserve.

Raj B Shetty and Chaithra Achar undeniably showcase a master class in their performances, emerging as standout talents within the realm of Toby. The film itself carries a robust narrative, skillfully reflecting the harsh truths of class disparities with both a sense of authenticity and tragedy. This alone serves as a compelling argument in favor of experiencing the movie.

The debutant director adeptly navigates the various elements of the storyline, orchestrating a symphony of emotions that resonate deeply. The final misjudgment, though unfortunate, doesn’t overshadow the film’s overall impact but does leave a lingering sense of missed potential.


Film: Toby
Director: Basil Al Chalakkal
Cast: Raj B Shetty, Chaithra Achar, Deepak Shetty, Samyukta Hornad, Gopal Deshpande
Duration: 155 minutes
Language: Kannada


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