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Kotha Bangaru Lokam October 30, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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“Dil” Raju does it again. A largely hypeless film before its release it’s now having everyone rave about it. Once you watch it comparisons to Bommarillu are inevitable and for a change the filmmakers don’t have to be worried about that. Kotha Bangaru Lokam holds its own extremely well and will surely be remembered as yet another great entertainer from Raju’s stable.

To put it very crudely it could called Bommarillu for Teens for here too the underlying thread is about parents well-intentioned hopes and aspirations for their offspring and how they might conflict with the latter’s own desires. Unlike Bommarillu which definitely had a more complex conflict to resolve while fairly trying to represent each side, KBL’s content is much more straightforward – for here we have two students still studying Intermediate at a residential college who fall in love and as expected do not find favor with their parents. We have seen a lot of films where the protagonists are studing in a junior college (In recent years Teja’s films are the ones which might come to your mind first. I am sure if and when he watches this he’ll kill himself out of embarrassment). Coming back to the point, this is really the film where I’ve seen a rather realistic (compared to other films) portrayal of students and their life in a residential college. For once, all the actors really look and act their intended age and especially the gang of girls is hilarious. I also liked the way Balu (Varun Sandesh) and Swapna (Shweta Prasad) eventually fall in love. It might seem stupid when you see this in another movie but because of the setting it gels perfectly.

The film is beautifully shot (especially the song picturizations) – the best in recent times and Mickey J Meyer’s music works wonders. Varun Sandesh and Shweta Prasad do a nice job. Especially Sandesh’s styling to suit the look of an Intermediate student deserves mention. Prakash Raj and Jayasudha can sleepwalk through roles like these and it’s always a pleasure to watch them. There are a lot of new faces also who do well for themselves. Debutant Director Srikanth Addala (who is also credited for the story, screenplay and dialogues) makes a brilliant debut. The film is almost three hours long but you never feel the length as it is so unusually gripping for a theme like this. No doubt I had a great time watching this.

Parugu – In the name of Love May 1, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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A film like Bommarillu is not easy to follow up. And you can’t blame the audience for having high expectations. It’s just my guess that writer-director Bhaskar seemed to have thought about this beforehand and decided that the best way to handle this situation is to make it clear to his audience right from the outset that they’ll be seeing a regular fun-filled Allu Arjun entertainer and nothing more – and that helps.

On the night of her wedding Subbalakshmi (Poonam Bajwa) elopes with her lover. Her incensed father Neelakanta (Prakash Raj) – who is a strong village henchman rounds up her lover’s friends and confines them to some kind of a dungeon until they trace the runaway couple. Krishna (Allu Arjun) is one of them and later turns out to be the guy who happened to have played an important part in the elopement. During his stay there, he ends up falling in love with Neelakanta’s other daughter Meena (Sheila). Now Krishna has to handle these twin troubles.

The first half moves at a breezy pace with the usual banter involving the hero and his gang of friends. At this point of time you are pretty much convinced that what you’ll get later is also some more of this stuff and if you still had Bommarillu in mind you’ll realize that Bhaskar isn’t interested in pulling off another one. But interestingly in the second half the film slowly and steadily changes track and has a go at the issue of runaway lovers. I then started wondering if the title Parugu actually was referring to this kind of “run”. Most of the sequences thereon are really well conceived – the one between Ali and Prakash Raj, between Arjun and a drunken Prakash Raj and the ones in the pre-climax. However, as the film nears its climax there is a lot of ambiguity and suspense as to what point of view the director is trying to convey – whether you call it clever writing or a confused mind you decide. At the end it works out pretty well though.

Allu Arjun is his usual self and nothing more is expected of him either. Watch out for his improvised “NTR’s Yamadonga step” in the song “Elagelaga”. Sheila (looks like a familiar face) is quite good in the initial portions but hasn’t got much to do after that. Prakash Raj – who is made to look like a regular villain in the first half does an about turn later in the movie into the sensitive father who loves his daughters more than anything else. This contrast in his portrayal is probably deliberate to bring about the intended effect but I still somewhat felt the inconsistency of his characterization was a sore thumb. Jayasudha does a small cameo. Mani Sharma’s music is okay – the kind of songs you’d enjoy watching just once on screen.

This film entertains quite well to merit a good “parugu” at the box office. More than anyone else Chiranjeevi would be pleased with Allu Arjun to have been part of this film.

Tailpiece: If you happen to be the “best friend” of someone who helped him/her elope then beware….this film is directed mostly at you!

Bommarillu – Love makes life beautiful September 11, 2006

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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There was so much hype around this movie after it released. The audience was mesmerized. The critics raved. All the NRI students talked about the praise from Jeevi (the very famous online film critic for Idlebrain.com). Discussion boards were filled with comments comparing the movie to films like Ninne Pelladatha, Nuvve Kavali, Arya, Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana and even films of Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. So the expectations were humongous to say the least. However, I tried to keep my expectations low and watched the film. The verdict? When I left the theatre I felt that this was a beautiful film. As I continued to mull over the screenplay, I realised that comparisons to some of those movies is not really uncalled for.

Recently, when I wrote about Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, I mentioned that there were few movies that aptly depicted a conflict arising due to love between two people. This movie depicts such a conflict realistically. In that movie there was a very relevant social issue like race that provided the conflict. In this movie it is a more simple issue yet very relevant to the Indian community as such. I mentioned earlier in the discussion about Good Will Hunting that Indian parents tend to decide most things for their kids (or at least have a great influence on the decisions) from their career path to their life partner. The issue here is about parents who believe that they are doing the best they can for their children without realising that what is best in their minds is not really what the child needs or wants. This is the crux of the film. Some of the families that came to this movie enjoyed it as much as I did but little did they realise that they themselves are doing some of the things that the father does in the film. In fact some of my friends probably don’t realise enough that we would probably commit some of the same mistakes that the previous generations have been committing. Kids who are like Subbalakshmi (Neha) may not find an issue while kids like Sidhu (Siddharth) will suffocate.

Some of my friends ask me if I mean to say that our parents are committing mistakes when they in fact have our best interests in their mind. Having best interests and doing the suitable thing are two different issues. Every individual has a justification for every action however wrong it may be. We do not act until we satisfy ourselves that it is fine to act that way. Mistakes are a part of every individual’s life and just like us, our parents are no exception no matter how much we love them. I have many friends whose descriptions fit Sidhu, Haasini and Subbulakshmi in the film as far as the relationships with a parent goes (and this relationship might differ between the two parents too). Some have more freedom while some do not have as much breathing space to let their feelings out while others get used to a dependent life and cannot even take a simple decision without enough support. I am generalizing but you should get the picture. I was really moved in the final confrontation between the father and son when I realized that there is so much love, affection and commitment from both parents and children and yet it still creates a confused and unsatisfied child (some people may say that it was the child’s fault because he did not open up earlier but it is the upbringing that makes the child what he is and that is the reason that the child cannot open up to his father). Simple understanding of what a child wants would have gone a long way in creating a happier child, not to mention a more satisfied parent.

Coming back to the movie (written and directed by Bhaskar), this is a magnificent screenplay first of all. We have had a writer-director like Chandrasekhar Yeleti (Aithe, Anukokunda Oka Roju) who has given us tight screenplays without loopholes or the inclusion of irrelevant matter. If Yeleti brought class to the thriller genre, Bhaskar brings the same class to the family entertainers. The brilliance of Bhaskar lies in the fact that the taut script is character driven more than anything else. At many places in the movie, you feel like he might compromise the characters but he stays true to them (especially when Genelia speaks up after the “week” is over). The characters and dialogues are close to reality and reminded me of many people throughout. Of course, the script may not feel perfect to some but better ones are rare in Telugu cinema of recent times. The director rarely tries to manipulate you and the drama nevers gets melodramatic. The movie is abundant in humor as is the current trend for family cinema. There is some really neat stuff here (check out what happens as the titles roll). As a director too Bhaskar is good and there is a lot of attention to detail. Bhaskar seems to be a perfectionist and he definitely has a strong will to succeed. I think he is a superb find though a couple more movies would be needed to decide how good he really is.

Siddharth does an excellent job as the son whose thoughts/ideas/decisions are nipped in the bud. His character is key to the movie and his casting is a good decision. His telugu diction is not really perfect but it is pardonable considering his effort to learn the language. His dances are passable. Genelia’s Haasini character is very believable to me because I have closely known a few people who are childlike in their behavior and are always happy and bubbly. Their enthusiasm rubs over to you. Sidhu’s character falling in love with Haasini’s is very believable because of the fact that she is able to do what he cannot (though love at first sight may seem a bit of a stretch). Haasini’s characterization reminded me of Rekha’s in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khoobsoorat (one of his great comedies which is not as famous as his others). If you did not like Siddharth in Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana or Salman Khan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Kajol in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, you will not like Genelia here but believe me such people do exist. I really did not believe that Genelia could act before this one but the director gets her to emote well (though she overdoes it here and there). Some of the mannerisms are definitely based on the director’s observations. She dances horribly (she actually jumps instead of dancing) but doesn’t do much of it anyway. Savita Reddy’s dubbing has really gotten monotonous over time.

Prakash Raj is perfectly suited for the role of the father (you are also reminded of another excellent portrayal of a father by him in Trivikram’s Nuvve Nuvve). Jayasudha does not have much to do overall but her expressions from time to time add to the movie, justifying her presence. From among the rest of the cast, Sunil is as always excellent (he is one of the few comedians that shows an appreciable variation in the way he portrays different roles). Satya Krishnan (who had a great role in Sekhar Kammula’s Anand) does not have much to do here. Neha (who acted in V.V.Vinayak’s Dil) gets a cameo and does well.

The music by Devi Sri Prasad is very good and so is his background score (compared to the composers from this generation like R.P.Patnaik and Chakri, Devi Sri is the only one that does a decent background score). He comes back to form with this one. If I had to pick a couple of songs, I would pick Appudo Ippudo (sung pretty well by Siddharth with Devi Sri chipping in the background to great effect) and Bommani Geesthe (reminds you of an Ilayaraaja number from Chinna Rayudu but is definitely not a lift) apart from the music bit. The lyrics of Bommani Geesthe are quite good (Bhaskarabhatla).

Coming to the comparisons with various movies. Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge which ran for over 500 weeks (and is probably still running in Maratha Mandir) had many good things about it but it still manipulated your emotions. The plot wasn’t as character driven as this one and the conflict isn’t as identifiable. Karan Johar’s flicks are all about manipulating your emotions (though they have great humor) as are many flicks from the Chopra/Johar camp. Krishna Vamsi’s Ninne Pelladatha had little manipulation and great identification factor except for the conflict (which to some was not as believable). Vijaya Bhaskar’s Nuvve Kavali, scripted by Trivikram had the best humor of the time when it released but it never had the brilliant characterization of this one though the conflict was believable. Prabhu Deva’s Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana lacked in originality being a mish mash (an excellent one though) of so many bollywood flicks ranging from Maine Pyar Kiya to Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (M.S.Raju’s script is to blame). Sukumar’s Arya was never really that realistic though the Arya character is what drives that movie. I could go on but comparisons with what are favorite movies for many is probably unnecessary. My point here is that the character driven screenplay, the identification factor and lack of manipulation of your emotions are the key strengths of the movie.

Don’t expect too much from this movie (you may not like it as much as you should if you expect too much). This is a great family entertainer even if you don’t really care about story, screenplay or direction. Watch it even if you do not want to think. Watch it if you enjoy cinema.