In 2004, NTR had a release on the first day of the year. It was a resounding flop. It went with the name ‘Andhrawala.’ It came at a time when he was in a fight for box-office supremacy with the reigning numero uno of the time, Chiranjeevi. He plumbed the depths after what was an early bright phase in his career.
That flop came in midst of bitter caste wars in our college. It was so bad that people not belonging to NTR’s community were celebrating the flop. I never got into the caste wars in college but there was glee in me as well when the news reached that the movie was a flop.
At the beginning of this year, Trivikram delivered his biggest dud. It took a lot of sheen away from his capabilities as the movie was found to be a freemake of ‘Largo Winch.’ Agnyaathavasi was a movie that seemed most un-Trivikram of his movies. He went off the public radar and only resurfaced during the promotions of this movie. There must have been some introspection as he turned over the way he made movies.
What was thought to be as a common thread in most Trivikram movies is missing here. It helped him no end that he had, at hand, an actor who had submitted to his vision and belief.
Trivikram begins slowly in this movie and he rides the wave with the first fight sequence in the movie. It was a sequence that had climax written all over it, just that it wasn’t . He reaches the crest and the movie goes downhill for a bit as we get to see what happens after a fight of such magnitude. It could’ve tumbled down quickly but what holds the movie is the scene between NTR and Supriya Pathak. Both the actors bring their A-game to the scene and it shows. Supriya Pathak is aided by Trivikram’s dialogues. NTR has to bank on his expressions. One of the dialogues is that people are talking that he was born with a knife in his hand. In the fight sequence before this scene, he is shown tying the knife to his hand. Trivikram doesn’t let small details escape and boy, it pays off.
Trivikram usually shows the female protagonists in his movies as bimbettes. This movie, refreshingly, is a move away from such a portrayal. She is said to be doing her MA in anthropology, a study of humans and human behaviour. She wants to do ethnocentric study on factionalism.
She seems an extension of Supriya Pathak’s character. She even utters the same dialogue as his grandmother, which leads NTR to say ‘vinne time, Cheppe manishi batti vishayam viluve maripothundhi’ (the circumstances and the person talking to us give a whole, new zing to the words). The words ring a bell when NTR says it.
Trivikram doesn’t delve a lot in showing the romance between the lead characters. He conveys it in the dialogues. The scene in the cafe, where Aravinda expresses her love towards Raghava, is nice. The build-up to the scene is Pomodoro techinique ( yeah, you heard it right). It can be safely said that Trivikram might have put it to use in the screenplay as well.
There are a couple of scenes, between the lead pair, which are elevated by Trivikram’s dialogues. One of them is where Aravinda explains female psyche to Raghava at a metro station and another one is where Raghava explains the male psyche to Aravinda in her bedroom. No, there is no physicality in the scenes.
Trivikram elevates NTR’s character and he does it multiple times. The pre-interval sequence is a hoot and the way NTR says, ‘Kantapadavo kanikaristhannu emo, ventabaddana narikestha Ona’ (If I see you, I might take sympathy on you. If I have to chase you, I will hack you).
Post-interval, there is very little of comedy and the action keeps shifting between the villages of Kommadhi and Nalabanda and Hyderabad.
There are many goosebump-inducing scenes in the second half. None better than the one where he sits in front of Rao Ramesh and threatens the villain and his henchmen on phone. All this while drinking a cup of tea. He goes to Rao Ramesh with the hope of initiating peace talks and this act of his followed by a few words convinces Rao Ramesh in giving peace a try.
Another scene is where he juxtaposes two stories in the village and goes on a monologue of what ails the region. There can’t be more said without revealing the story.
Casting for the movie is apt. There is no hero in Telugu Film Industry who could’ve played the role as convincingly as NTR does. He is amazing in bringing forth anger, love, respect, sadness and longing. He gives the director what he wants with every single shot. No hero, bar Nani, to an extent, has spoken the Rayalseema dialect so well. Putta Penchal Das is the man behind it and deservingly gets the credit. NTR oscillates between the accents effortlessly and the close-up shots aid in accentuating the scene. The camera was in love with him and it shows.
Pooja Hegde acts well within the limitations of her character. She gets a lot of credit for change in NTR. Her role has been designed in a way where she acts as an extension for NTR’s grandmother’s thought process. Jejamma, Amma and Aravinda shape NTR. The way he respects women, the way he behaves with them and the way he is influenced by them. There is a dialogue towards the end of the movie where NTR says “Paalu icche amma ki paalinchadam oka lekka.”
Jagapathi Babu induces fear. The scene where he asks Brahmaji if he is more scared of him or NTR is amazing and showcases the acting abilities of both the actors.
Supriya Pathak, Devyani, Sithara, Sunil, Eesha Rebba, Naresh do well in their roles. Naresh’s family and Sunil provide the comic relief in the movie.
Thaman does well with the Background music as always and helps in conveying the mood well.
The cinematographer also does a good job especially in aerial shots.
Trivikram, after a couple of uncharacteristic efforts, is back to form. The dialogues flow and they cause required effect. It probably helped him no end that he had NTR to utter the dialogues. Both gave their best to each other and don’t disappoint.
Verdict: Outlook makes a difference and women shape it. In life as well as in the movie. Worth your time
Image courtesy: 123telugu.com