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Film / Minchina Ota

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Minchina Ota (rolling thunder) is a Carnatic language heist movie made in 1979, that received a Karnataka State Film Award. It stars brothers in real life Shankar and Ananth Nag, as well as a pre-fame appearance by Bollywood star and social activist Priya Tendulkar (no relation to the cricket legend). The movie tells the tale of Katte (Shankar Nag) and his elderly companion Thatha (grandpa), a duo of recently released convicts who struggle to adapt to living an honest life, and are pulled back into their old thieving ways. Along the way, they recruit Rebellious Spirit auto mechanic Tony (Ananth Nag) and another petty thief named Manju (Tendulkar) into their band. The group then plans a huge score that should set them up for the rest of their lives.

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And then things get bad, get really pear shaped, and finally come to a tragic conclusion.

Tropes contained here are

  • Affectionate Nickname: Thatha means grandfather in all South Indian languages. His real name is revealed to be Prabhakar Rao, and he isn't Katte or Tony's real grandfather. They call him this, owing to his grandfatherly appearance, and futile attempt at being the Voice of Reason to especially Katte.
  • Armed Blag: Katte, Tony, Thatha and Manju conspire to pull this type of job off, as that last score which sets them up for life. They target a van delivering a large stash of cash to a bank. They do succeed in stealing the money, but the cops now take them seriously and go all out to try to capture them.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Katte and Thatha start off barefoot wearing tattered clothes, as they are destitute ex-convicts. They even have to work at a construction site in bare feet as they just can't afford better clothes and shoes. The fact that Katte seems to spend all that both of them earn on drink, also contributes quite a bit to this state.
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  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Superintendent Naik initially slaps around another escapee who had tagged along with Katte, Thatha and Tony, broken his leg, fell behind and was recaptured. After the guy (who is already in pain from a broken leg) reveals where Katte and Tony ran, Naik berates him to not say a word while being taken back to the prison, otherwise he will have his other leg broken too.
  • Dirty Cop: Constable Thimmaya, the prison guard who can get any kind of contraband for the right (exorbitant0 price.
  • Disney Villain Death: Thatha's demise is a realistic take on this trope. He loses his balance and falls from a precarious position atop the prison's wall. We see him hitting the ground, but the gory result of such a fall are not shown. We do see Katte and Tony crying over his corpse though.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Tony, the auto mechanic proves to be quite good at fixing broken down cars, or disassembling them to sell its constituent components as spare parts for greater profit. He is also the one who figures out how to get the cell door unlocked during the prison escape.
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  • Great Escape: Most of the normal pitfalls are averted because it is only three guys trying to bust out. However, things do go horribly wrong. First, a guard on rounds stumbles onto Kate while he is emerging from his cell. Kate knocks the guy out, but he still comes to and sounds the alarm. This causes the getaway driver that they had co-opted through Manju, Tony's wife, to get scared and abandon them, forcing the escapees to flee on foot. Then the old and frail Thatha loses his balance and falls off the prison wall, plunging to his death. Then, a fourth guy who wasn't part of their escape plot, tags along, but without any help from Kate and Tony in scaling the wall, falls and breaks his leg. This ensures that he is captured first. Because the other escapees wouldn't help him and take him with them, he tells the cops where Tony and Katte fled. The cops proceed to setup a cordon from which Katte and Tony do not escape.
  • Healthcare Motivation: Manju is partaking in petty larceny to help pay her sick mother's medical bills.
  • Hero Antagonist: Superintendent Naik of the Karnataka State Police, who is pursuing the car thieves. He also pursues the gang when they break out of prison.
  • Jerkass: Katte and Tony are nowhere close to being Gentleman Thief material, as they are impulsive, selfish, rude, entitled and display little to no compassion for anyone. The people who employed them while they were going straight, were no better, being textbook Mean Boss examples. The foreman of the construction site where Thatha and Katte are shown working at, in the beginning, acts like a slave driver and appears ready to beat a tired Thatha when he drops a heavy log and collapses to the ground. That said -
    • Jerkass Has a Point: The construction site foreman who employed Katte and Thatha most likely knows about their criminal past and is right to micromanage them, lest they slack off on paid time, or try to steal stuff. His boss was clearly within reason to fire both Katte and Thatha when their convict past is revealed - not to mention the fact that Katte had just physically assaulted the foreman. The owner of the garage where Tony works was well within reason to order Tony to stop his current assignment and go help people who are stranded due to a broken down car. Tony's refusal to do so, smacks more of insubordination than an overwork complaint.
  • Karma Houdini: Manju was a petty thief before she met Tony, she was a co-conspirator in the delivery van heist as well as being the distraction inside the bank, she conspired to pull off, then aided in the prison escape, and even supplied the escapees with loaded revolvers. She should be looking at serious hard time too, but once the escapees are killed, she is implied to have been allowed to go free.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: When Katte, Tony and Thatha make their escape, a fourth guy tags along a few steps behind them. Because the three escapees don't even try to help him in any way during the escape, he fractures his right leg while jumping off the prison's wall. He limps behind them, collapses in pain and despondency over there being "nothing but forests everywhere". He pleads with Katte and Tony to take him with them and not leave him there. To no avail.
  • Rebellious Spirit: Tony the mechanic. Even prison couldn't kill that instinct.
  • The Reveal: Once the cash delivery van is stolen, Superintendent Naik of the State Police compiles dossiers on Katte, Thatha and Tony, that reveal their backstories. Specifically
    • Katte was a habitual petty thief and pickpocket who has been in and out of prison several times.
    • Thatha's real name is Prabhakar Rao and he used to be an insurance agent before he embezzled lakes of rupees and was sentenced to two years in prison. He met Katte there.
    • Tony was studying to become a mechanical engineer, before dropping out to work as an auto mechanic. Before joining Katte and Thatha, he stole a few hundred rupees from the garage he worked at.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Manju arranges for some guy named Joseph to wait outside the prison with a car, to be the getaway driver when Katte, Thatha and Tony break out. However, when the prison alarm goes off before the escapees make it to the rendezvous, Joseph takes his car and bolts, leaving the escapees and Manju stranded.
  • Spanner in the Works: Had that guard not stumbled upon Katte just as he was escaping from his cell, it is conceivable that although Thatha would have still fallen to his death, Katte and Tony would have successfully linked up with Manju and the getaway car she had arranged. They all would have driven away a long distance before the guards would have been alerted to the jailbreak. Instead, the guard literally blows the whistle on the escape, scaring off the getaway driver, forcing the escapees to flee on foot, and facilitating their being surrounded by armed cops.
  • Suicide by Cop: How Katte and Tony meet their end.
  • Villain Protagonist: Katte and Tony. Stealing cars, assaulting people, robbing a bank to enrich themselves, then breaking out of prison, doesn't make them heroic, not by a long shot.
  • Voice of Reason: Thatha tries to be one. He fails.
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