In 2007 October, there was a lot of activity in the film industry because on the 2nd of that month, the much awaited debut of Ram Charan was to take place. On the same day, a film directed by Sekhar Kammula also released. The name of the movie was ‘Happy Days’ . Sekhar Kammula was no stranger to competition. In 2004, he released Anand on the same day as Shankardada MBBS and succeeded in drawing attention to his movie. This challenge, in 2007, was different. Happy days was made with first time actors or actors whose careers failed to take off in the first and second attempts.

Around 56 minutes into the movie, there is a scene. It goes something like this:

Tyson: Auto, Gandhinagar?

Autodriver: Raanu Anna

Rajesh: (Forcing himself into the auto) Endukku raavu ra, naadu.

If at that time anyone were to ask us whose star would shine the brightest, a lot of fingers would’ve pointed to Nikhil. He managed to veer himself off the track by choosing poor movies and trying to imitate his favorite heroes- Pawan Kalyan and Ravi Teja.

It is a credit to his persevering attitude then that he managed to keep himself in the mix for seven years now when his colleagues from the same movie, except Tammana, are all but done with their careers. When his career was down in the dumps, he received a lifeline in the form of Swamy Ra ra. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing succeeds like success’ and we know the rest. He has been choosy with the roles he wants to play now. The first movie after that success was Karthikeya

Karthikeya was not a straight forward release. It had its own share of problems. The audio was released five months ago and the release date kept getting postponed. The film trade has changed a lot from what it was in 2007. In the days of big ticket releases, it’s difficult for a ‘small film’ to have a sustained run or a wider release. In short, it’s devoured by the big ticket film even though the later turns out to be a disaster. In short, it’s difficult to have an Anand or a Happy days in the present scenario.

While the movie was getting postponed, one theory that was floating around, probably true, was that the makers were not interested in vying with big movies for screens. Well, they did find a good time to release it if the story is true.

Thrillers are never awaited with bated breath in Telugu film industry. Not so long ago, they were the main reason to have close up shots of bosoms and buttocks. So, Karthikeya comes in like a whiff of fresh air in the genre. One of the welcome omissions from the movie is the bathroom scene. It is a common practice to have one.

All this tells you that the director, Chandoo Mondeti, clearly bucks the trend. In the initial shots involving Nikhil there seemed to be an air of déjà vu, but as the film progressed so did the character. Kartik Gattamneni, the cinematographer, was a brilliant choice. The scene where Karthik sits with the manuscript on the table was brilliantly shot and so were the scenes shot around the temple. There were two more shots that caught my eye- one, the scene where Nikhil, while searching for Swati, enters a building in the college and only his silhouette is seen. The same thing happens in the climax when the person guilty of crimes is revealed.

More than the actors, it’s the director who needs to be complimented for sticking by his conviction. Though you have a sense of déjà vu, when the perpetrator is revealed, the movie does have you glued to the seats. One of the reasons is the screen time and the other being the director’s refusal to be veered away from the narrative. The comedy, when it happens, is in sync with the needs of the narrative rather than as a break from the grimness of the plot. One thing to notice is that action and choreography is credited to ‘Team of Karthikeya’.

It is only obvious that when the director has a vision, so will the actors. Each and every actor in the movie has performed well. There is a scene in the movie when the protagonist’s mother informs him that he is to become an uncle yet again. We can hear the conversation in the background, but what we see is the protagonist’s brother reveling with pride- the pride that comes with a sense of achievement. Yes, the scene makes you laugh at him because of his thoughtlessness. That, in a nutshell, is a tribute to the actual heroes of the movie – director and the cinematographer

Verdict: A welcome break from the assembly line of comic entertainers.

Image courtesy: idlebrain.com

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