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Chandamama August 26, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Writer-director Krishna Vamsi’s Chandamama is a family-friendly comedy. Compared to his past successes in a similar genre, Ninne Pelladatha and Murari, this is a lower budget comedy without big stars. The non-serious comic plot of this film reminds you of Jandhyala’s comedies (though the execution is typical Krishna Vamsi).

Mahalakshmi is the daughter of village elder Ranga Rao. Her marriage is fixed with Dora Babu. However, she is not entirely happy with it as she is separated from her boyfriend due to a misunderstanding. When he enters the picture and the misunderstanding is cleared, the chaos begins. The youngsters try to settle matters without hurting their elders, which results in lies, manipulation, confusion and a lot of funny moments.

There is nothing novel in terms of the plot or the characterization or even the way in which KV directs this film. But he does succeed in using certain things like the village environment and the joint family. Yes, we have seen this before and he has done it before but we don’t get to see it very often and it is quite a relief from the flying goons and blood spattering.

KV also makes sure that the casting provides freshness. He doesn’t use actors like Chalapati Rao or Chandra Mohan who have been used time and again in such family films. And it works. Ahuti Prasad gets the best role and he pulls it off with aplomb. KV also extracts decent performances from the youngsters. Kajal Agarwal (Lakshmi Kalyanam, Pourudu) and Navdeep (Modati Cinema, Premante Inthe) deliver improved performances. I liked Sindhu Menon (the most experienced of the lot) in the role of the bubbly girl (which, some will undoubtedly hate). Siva Balaji (Arya) completes the quartet and he is likable as the kind-hearted village boy. Radha Kumari always makes a nice grandmother. K M Radhakrishnan’s soundtrack doesn’t match his best work or Krishna Vamsi’s earlier films but it isn’t bad and his background score is good.

Though KV may or may not have intended it, the film serves as a good example of a situation where a person feels the need to lie due to societal restrictions, pressures and/or similar considerations. A rational individual might say that there is no need to lie at all as the truth might actually make things simpler but a lot of people would still prefer to lie.

There is a certain energy in the film and it breezes along without its faults bothering you too much. This isn’t a great movie but if you’ve liked Krishna Vamsi’s previous films in this genre, you wouldn’t mind watching this one. I certainly didn’t.

P.S. If anyone knows why this one was titled Chandamama, please let me know.

Lakshmi Kalyanam May 22, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Most of Teja’s films are quite simple (despite the fact that he thinks he is extremely creative). Rich boy falls in love with poor girl or vice versa. If his last film is set in a village, the next one will be set in a city. Sometimes there is a strong villain. Generally, the hero is pretty weak. It worked (at the box office) with Nuvvu Nenu and Jayam and then people got bored of watching the same thing over and over.

As it stands, Chitram (or maybe Family Circus) remains his most novel effort (by virtue of everything that followed).

So, I don’t even know why I saw this film but then my endurance levels are high. And I actually had hope when an initial sequence showed an astrologer predicting conflicting futures for the main characters. It felt like a giant step for Teja. Then, slowly but surely, the film migrated into expected territory and there was really no incentive to finish it except to see how he has rehashed the same elements once again.

Lets briefly look at what we’ve got in this movie.

Setting: Village
Hero: Kalyan Ram (improved but still has a long way to go). Weak: Surprisingly not!
Heroine: Kajal Agarwal. Debutant: Check. Half-sarees: Very welcome.
Villain: Ajay (the most watchable member of the cast). Modeled on: Gopichand’s character from Jayam
Comedians: Harsha Vardhan (wasted), Raghu Babu (the same character that he plays in most films, the sidekick of the villain who makes satirical remarks without any repercussions)
Music: RP Patnaik (way past his prime)
Plot: Bava Maradallu in love. The villain eyes the girl. Weird village feuds fuel the plot. A race to win the girl (I kid you not). All odds against the hero. I won’t tell you if he makes it or not.
Advice: Don’t watch it.

Parting shot: I found myself laughing uncontrollably (inexplicably) to one song in the film called Labjanaka (the Teja style item song). See if you find it as funny.