Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava – Sakutumba Saparivaraa sametham ga

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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. 

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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. 

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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

 

Agnyaathavaasi movie review

Back in the day, around the release of Khushi, when functions were being organised for the movie, the producer AM Rathnam, talking in one of those functions had compared Pawan Kalyan to Rajinikanth: actors with their fingers on the pulse of the audience. In hindsight, it can seem to be a foolish statement or a profound one, considering the boat you sail on.

Pawan Kalyan is riding on two disasters (in terms Box-office returns and the content in them). Who better than his friend and the director, Trivikram Srinivas, who gave his biggest hit till date to pull him out of the rut?

An actor-director combo is expected to repeat the magic of their previous hit when they collaborate again, but here they take it too far as the character sketch of the protagonist is similar to that of the previous movie. It seems as if Trivikram Srinivas grew too lazy and wanted you to assume that you are watching the extended version of Attarintiki Daredhi (it’s the season of sequels, you know.)

All the tropes of a Trivikram movie, bar few, are there in this movie too: dumb heroines, rich protagonist, a family figure to look up to and a villain who doesn’t seem menacing enough.

*****

Agnyaathavaasi is the story of a man hidden away from the rest of the world as a Plan B. When we go to a movie we should allow for some suspension of disbelief, but this movie stretches the limit. Did Trivikram not have the time to write it or wasn’t he allowed to write what he wanted? Forget the main theme being borrowed from a French movie, some scenes too seemed to be a rehash of previous movies.

The office comedy scenes had ‘Rowdy Alludu’ written all over them. Hate me as much as you want but Pawan Kalyan is no Chiranjeevi when it comes to comic timing. He simply doesn’t have the ability to raise the level of the movie with his acting.

The kidnapping of a few people and keeping them locked away at the same place seemed pretty similar to that of Khaleja. In that movie, Trivikram managed to weave comedy and philosophy around the situation, but here the attempts fell through.

Though he talks of a Plan B in the movie, every such attempt in taking the Plan B is rebuffed by Trivikram. Imagine the scope of the movie if the movie took the direction of Sampath Raj hounding Pawan Kalyan. That doesn’t seem the point of the movie. The point of the entire movie seemed to be playing sycophant to Pawan Kalyan.

*****

Pawan Kalyan doesn’t seem to have his mind and heart in acting anymore. Not that this is his worst effort, but the effort isn’t visible, which is a sad thing. That he didn’t bother trying is a fact that his die-hard fans should acknowledge as much as Trivikram’s laziness in trying to develop a coherent script. The eulogical dialogues just don’t seem to work as his character graph isn’t properly developed. It is as if they forgot to draw the line by mixing reel with real; the fans are supposed to imagine Pawan Kalyan in real life and bring that imagination to the restraint the character shows before its unleashed on the world. The introduction scene had all the eccentricities associated with Pawan Kalyan and it’s tough to imagine that Trivikram would’ve conceptualized it without Pawan Kalyan’s interference. Takes us back to the Jalsa days, doesn’t it?

Trivikram is one of those rare directors who have a presence in the script without being a part of it. A Trivikram movie does draw you to the turnstiles, but here he allows the very few good dialogues he writes to be lost in the mediocrity of Pawan Kalyan’s character. It is a pity that he allows himself to be carried away by his/the fans love for Pawan Kalyan. This is a throwback to Jalsa, where the entire movie doesn’t seek attention, but a few scenes do. There too, he wants us to imagine the character depth rather than showing it on screen.

Keerthi Suresh, Anu Emmanuel, Khushboo and Boman Irani, who?

Rao Ramesh is the only actor who comes away unscathed from the mess that Agnyaathavaasi is. He shines with the way he utters dialogues. He shines with the way he expresses the dialogues meaning. One of the best things to look forward to in a Trivikram movie, in the recent past, is Rao Ramesh and they don’t disappoint.

*****

Verdict: Walking into the sunset might actually be metaphorical in this movie

A Aa movie review

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It’s easy to describe when sportsmen perfect a skill. They put in hours of practice and perfect that skill. Like Djokovic shifting to another invisible gear when he finds himself under pressure; like Kohli unleashing cover drive after cover drive regardless of where the ball pitches. How do you then explain Trivikram coming up with movie after movie that adds to the viewing pleasure? It’s not a skill that can be honed with constant practice. It’s not something that others can hope to do.  A lot of it has to do with the dialogues that he writes in his movies.

To compare the predicament of oneself with Biryani and fried rice might seem an inane thing to do. Yet, people do it sometimes. Trivikram too does it and he imparts sense with the most inane of the comparisons at that point. Therein lies the difference between him and others.

There seems to be something with his movies that we don’t get in other movies. From Nuvve Nuvve on, he has donned the hats of writer and director for all his movies. In the 8 movies that he has directed so far, he has laid a seed for thought with every movie.

If you have followed him well, it’s the post mortem of his movies that draws us to him after the movie has released. If he can explain his point of view so succinctly to the audience, imagine how he explains it to the actors in the movie. No wonder that most of the actors come up with winning performances in his movies.

All through his directorial career, he has made the star or the hero in his movies don a different avatar to that of what we have been used to seeing him in. Khaleja, Jalsa, Julayi stand as shining jewels in the respective careers of the heroes regardless of their box office fates.

In A Aa, he waits for sometime before he rolls the credits. They roll when the female protagonist says that though they are so close, it took them about 25 years to meet. When you see the titles roll, you admire Trivikram. Every name has the alphabet ‘A’ highlighted in yellow  and in a font size bigger than the rest of the alphabets. You are allowed to retrospect once the movie ends.

With every movie he tries to teach us something. In this movie, he sings praises of villages and the lifestyle. It is delightful to see Niithin behaving in the character that he was given. But, isn’t it par for course in Trivikram movies? A lot of the talk after the movie released revolved around whether or not the movie was copied/inspired from a novel. It affected them as Trivikram spoke about it at the success meet of the movie.

I haven’t read the book and Trivikram accepted that he discussed the character sketch with the author. Apart from this, I felt that this movie had certain similarities with his debut movie- Nuvve Nuvve. That movie got emotionally heavy towards the end, but in this movie he retains the comic flavour throughout.

One could say that he could’ve done a little bit more to establish the relationship between Nadia and Samantha, but then this movie was about the relationship between Niithin and Samantha. The path they travel to give it a suitable ending is what the movie is all about.

The movie flows like a breeze when it unfolds in Kalavapudi. The way the number of days being spent in Kalavapudi are shown is innovative. While the proceedings in Kalavapudi are on, one is gravitated towards spending time in village whenever possible.

Trivikram opens up the story in the train when Naresh, the father of Samantha, asks Niithin not to talk and remind her of death and the trauma. This movie shows us the rarely seen actor in Niithin. He is the one to profit most from the movie. For others, it just reinforces how good performers they are when they are aided by the script. A special mention to Praveen, Hariteja and Srinivas Reddy for their hilarious performances. What can be said about Rao Ramesh that has been left unsaid? He sizzles, more so  when he gets to close the movie.

Verdict: Not the best work of Trivikram, but you can live with some of those dialogues for years

Image courtesy: idlebrain.com

S/O Satyamurthy review

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When Nuvve Nuvve released in October 2002, I remember watching it with my father in Vizag. I liked the movie. It was one of the first movies that made me listen. Yes, I liked the movie. So, it was a little disappointing that Trivikram said he could deliver about 80% of what he thought. It was disappointing because I thought it was a very good film and couldn’t have been better.

Athadu was a movie that I saw multiple times. Initially I thought it was because I had control over my money rather than depending on finances from my parents. It was, probably, the first movie I saw as an employed individual. I just loved the sambar scene with MS Narayana. Trivikram was warming us up for what was to follow later in his career with that scene. I also liked the entire thread where he makes Mahesh Babu explain the difference between a lie and deception. Probably we are all tired of reruns of the movie with the Gemini TV logo that the change in satellite rights to MAA TV made us watch that movie all over again.

Jalsa was a movie that I hated the first time I saw it. I saw it again; felt the need to see it again and I watch it with a lot of laughter to this day. The entire thread involving Illeana renting out a portion where Pawan Kalyan stays is brilliant and it’s taken to an entirely different level with  Brahmanandam’s entrance. The movie has some brilliant moments which tickle your funny bone no matter what the number of viewing it may be.

Khaleja (or) Mahesh Khaleja, as it was called , was the first movie that drew me towards being a fan on Trivikram. The entire movie was one thing and an interview he gave to Gemini TV was quite another. In that hour, Trivikram had me glued. Glued to his words, glued to his gestures and glued to how he tried to answer each question by the interviewer with an honesty rarely seen before. It was a movie that divided opinions. I still have long drawn arguments with one of my best friends whenever we discuss the movie. This movie must be in contention for the most viewed movie by me. There was a time when I used to watch this movie at least once in a week. I still do – once in a fortnight now.

Julayi opened me up to the way Social media can influence the thinking. It was the first time I saw people talking bad about Trivikram. After seeing his movies and liking them, I felt that a lot of the criticism was unjustified. I liked the movie and way it proceeded. A lot of the scenes, it was said, were copied from Hollywood movies. Well it didn’t deter me and my liking for Trivikram grew into an addiction. I need a Trivikram fix every single week of my life now.

Attarintiki Daredhi is a movie that minted money. Money for the producer and distributors. Fame for the actors and the director. I liked this movie too, but it remains the least watched of all Trivikram movies by me. It was a credit to the people involved with the movie that the movie went on to become a big hit though the prints of the movie got leaked much before its release.

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The reason I listed out all movies of Trivikram is solely to clarify that I am his fan and can watch anything made by him. To borrow from R.Madhavan, talking about Maniratnam, he can make the hero romance an electric pole or a piece of wood and make it look convincing. There are a lot of things to like in the movie for me.

In the function to celebrate the success of the audio, Trivikram said that it would be ode to the fathers of the world – the least romanticised of the characters in the movies. That statement by him made me want to watch the movie even more. I would say that he didn’t disappoint me.

In the morning, when I wanted to check for the talk about the movie and reviews, I was a little shocked by the tweets I saw. There were a lot of tweets that put the movie down badly. I read tweet after tweet and was angry at the criticism directed towards the people associated with the movie. The questions in my head were: Who sets the expectations? Does a movie need box-office collections to validate its credentials as a good movie?

To sit down in the theatre then and to watch the movie was a relief. I saw the first half and felt that it was a very good movie. No, I didn’t abuse the tweeters and the reviewers in my mind. I am always a sucker for family oriented movies, especially when they delve in the relationship of the protagonist with one of the family members.

Yes, the movie was heavy on values and its emphasis on people following them. I don’t find anything wrong in it. If you can be a little better than what you actually were, would you mind? It perhaps is a bit unsettling for a few of us so totally used to our diet of masala movies.

It has three designated heroines and there are three songs with two of the three heroines being a part of it. How long has it been that you saw two heroines in a song and not a word on the reproductive organs of the hero in the form of gross lyrics? How long has it been that you saw an ‘item song’ without an item girl in the song?

Rajendra Prasad represents the pragmatists among us and it is probably tougher to convince the real life Rajendra Prasads than the reel life Rajendra Prasad. That said, it was a brilliant performance by him in the movie. It’s good to see him get full length roles in Trivikram’s movies.

Upendra is a brilliant actor and it must’ve been nothing less than a coup to get him to act in this movie – his role only begins in the second half. There is a tendency for his characters to be loud, but it is anything but that in this movie. In my opinion, it didn’t need an actor of the caliber of Upendra, but his presence lends credence to the part. Sneha looks good in the role given to her. Same is the case with Brahmanandam, Ali, Kota, Sindhu Tolani, Vennela Kishore and Prakash Raj

Samantha and Nitya Menen are very good in the parts they were given. It’s very hard to see Nitya Menen in a role that’s not performed well. I haven’t seen her in one. It’s good to welcome back the Samantha we liked. She performs well in the movie. Adah Sharma doesn’t have a role in the movie. Period. That probably is the only fact that Trivikram would’ve explaining to do for.

Allu Arjun has a tougher role in this movie than his previous outing with Trivikram- Julayi. In Julayi, the dialogues were short and crisp. In this movie, the dialogues are lengthy and thought provoking. There are some scenes in which he shines only because of the dialogues; the one where he refuses to file an Insolvency petition, the scene where he differentiates between give and take and win and loss citing examples is brilliant. The scene where he talks about his father to Samantha is good too. Yes, he performed well within his limits but it could’ve been much better had he been more expressive. One must watch out for the way he says ‘Chala Bagundhi’ in the movie.

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Trivikram, for me, has a good movie on his hands. Years from now, he can look back on the movie fondly. A general look at the tweets if you search for ‘Son of Satyamurthy’ will reveal a lot of unjustified criticism. Yes, the critics have panned the movie. But they have panned a lot of movies in the past too. To judge the movie by its box office potential would be criminal, but that’s the way it goes.

The writer in him dominates the director, but that doesn’t, in any way, obstruct the flow of the movie. For me, the first half was as good as the second half. While he establishes the characters in the first half, he makes them go through a gamut of emotions in the second half.   The good thing about the movie is the fact that it never  makes you feel sympathetic towards the plight of the hero. That’s because you know he has done the right thing, but there is a sigh of relief every time the hero redeems himself.

Verdict: It felt good to watch a Trivikram film and I will watch it repeatedly regardless of the box office fate of the movie

Image Courtesy: idlebrain.com

Attharintiki Daredhi movie review

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The brief for a superstar is always simple- use his/her aura to the fullest. Pawan Kalyan is a superstar and his aura has been used to make, what looks like a superhit movie. What has been a heartening development in this year, is the fact that the reigning superstars of the Telugu Film Industry have both acted in family oriented movies. It helps that the superstars come out of the comfort zone to act in movies in genres that are fast disappearing.

Have you ever noticed that a certain director gets the best out of certain actors. Trivikram, certainly has that effect on Pawan Kalyan. There is a certain joie de vivre to the characters that Pawan Kalyan plays in Trivikram’s movies. Be it Jalsa or this movie, there is a certain fluidity to Pawan Kalyan that’s seldom seen in other movies. Is it because he trusts the director or is it the fact that most of his previous blockbusters have been remakes and hence the scope for improvising becomes minimal?

A welcome change in Pawan Kalyan has been his brilliant dialogue modulation from his previous movie, Cameraman Ganga tho Rambabu. If you notice him closely, the body language in a few scenes takes us back to the days of Chiranjeevi, especially in the scenes and dances where feminine actions are involved.

His dialogue delivery is crucial to leave the desired impact on the audience. He excels in delivering the brilliant lines penned by Trivikram. He is equally at ease while delivering the dialogues laced with emotion in the climax as he is while delivering lines like “Floodlights lo dagudumuthallu adinattu undhi”

Samantha doesn’t have the conventional heroine role in the movie. There are very few scenes between the lead pair that contain the romance that we have gotten used to over the years. Be it the way she expresses her love to him or be it the apprehension in marrying him, she comes across as a loveable girl. Her appearance in the entire Chitoor trip episode is one of the best that a heroine has ever looked in the recent past.

Praneetha doesn’t have a role that she can remember in a few months’ time from now. Her appearance in the song ‘Bapu gaari bommo’ is the only thing she might remember with fondness over time.

Brahmanandam is another person who has that impeccable timing in comedy with Pawan Kalyan and that comes to the fore in the scenes that he has with him. The Ahalya Amayakurallu drama and the entire ‘fake baba’ drama bring the house down. It won’t be overstatement to say that his chemistry with Pawan Kalyan is on par with his chemistry with Ravi Teja and Nagarjuna.

Boman Irani, Nadia, Kota Srinivasa Rao and Mukesh Rishi do what is expected of them- perform well in the scenes given to them.

A special word for Rao Ramesh as he seems to be blessed with a voice that can do wonders to the dialogues given to him, maybe an inheritance from his father. He impresses everyone with his performance in the first half.

Finally to Trivikram then. He handles the subject on hand with ease. The dialogues flow freely from him and people complaining that his dialogues, off late, have been lacking the punch of yore would do well to concentrate a little bit more on the dialogues. His handling of the script and the superstar on hand tell us that he is going to be around for a long, long while to come. He gets to Pawan Kalyan to dance, deliver dialogues with aplomb, display the intensity in his eyes and emote brilliantly. He also knows what the fans want as he gets Pawan to perform his characteristic swipe of his right hand on the neck many times in the opening song

PS: The song sequence ‘Ninu Choodagane’ has to be one of the best song sequences shot in the recent past. The crowd, where I saw the movie, came alive at the point where Pawan say ‘Let’s dance, ya!’

Verdict: It has blockbuster written all over it and rightly so

 

Pic courtesy: idlebrain.com