(for SI blog reader Araj)
Classy Telugu film?
Ha ha ha. 😆
Now, now, don’t laugh, Schmucks.
A classy Telugu film is not a contradiction in terms though many of you may have been conditioned to think so by seeing the likes of Allu Arjun, Nagarjuna, Jagapati Babu et al making asses of themselves and monkeys of yourselves.
No, it’s only 4:23PM on the East Coast and we are not sloshed either.
At least, not yet. Let’s wait for sun-down before we start paying obeisance to Bacchus, shall we. 😉
A Miracle, Guys
At the review request of a longstanding SI blog reader, we drove down to Anil Ambani’s crappy cinema theater MovieShitty in Edison (NJ) Saturday to watch the Telugu film Prasthanam.
Voila, miracles do happen! They do, really.
Amidst the vast desolate Tundra of crappy Telugu films, Prasthanam stands out for being a watchable film.
No classic but most certainly worth the $85 in tickets, food, gas, snacks and toll!
Family Drama or Political Drama
Featuring all round fine performances, the movie (written and directed by the NRI Deva Katta) is a family drama set against the backdrop of politics.
Initially, we thought it a political drama but as the lengthy movie progressed we realized it was more of a richly-layered family drama neatly wrapped within the shell of politics. And that’s a smart move because one of the major follies of Indian movies, particularly Telugu and Tamil films, is that they often tend to focus a lot on one element (usually love) jettisoning all else overboard as extra baggage. Such a ritualistic practice, besides serving to make our movies seem uni-dimensional in a complex, multi-dimensional world, also shows them up as silly and amateurish.
There’s plenty of drama in every family and certainly endless theater (both of the violent and comical kind) in Telugu Nadu politics. In the hands of a talented film-maker like Katta, the two dramatic forces converge in Prasthanam to create a visually compelling tableau with crisp dialogs.
For those of you think who are deluded into thinking that only a Varudu, a Kedi or the new vacuous looking in-girl of Tollywood Kajal Agarwal can create an adrenalin rush to keep you glued to the screen, you ought to see the brisk-paced Prasthanam.
The movie starts off with our young hero Mitra (Sharvanand) visiting the old, run-down family home in the village and walking down memory lane to his childhood days.
The flashback of the violence and the death of a major family member in campaign violence are shown in black and white except for one scene in stark color – the burning of a jeep on a rural road amidst the fields.
Are the yellow-black of the fiery flames amidst the gray surroundings a harbinger of further violence and a disturbing fate ahead for the family?
Without disclosing too much of the story, all we’ll tell you is that Prasthanam traces a wide arc of jealousy, rivalry, treachery, violence, unbridled ambition, love, power, corruption and sudden course changes both within the cozy narrow family circle as well as in the larger political arena.
Are you surprised that similar emotions play out in both circles? Why should you be considering politics is after all only a larger social circle.
The script, also by Deva Katta, is fairly tight with the political elements and family events interwoven well for the most part without seeming as if they are running along different, parallel tracks.
All Izz Not Well
Sure, all’s not fine with the movie and Prasthanam ain’t no masterpiece.
The Murali Lola Diwali song and the Nee Rendallo romantic number were wholly unnecessary and merely served to drag the film.
Also, the romantic angle between Mitra and his love interest (Parihar Ruby) is so lame that one wonders what it’s even doing there.
Well, we suspect commercial calculations and the need to pander to the ‘mass’ audience played a part here.
Without the love angle, you lose two or three songs and there’s the risk of the movie being dubbed a political film and eliciting a ho hum response from an asinine public that must have its love-fix, bad and sophomoric as they usually are in Indian films.
Starved and deprived as we are of genuine actors in our films, one of the joys of watching Prasthanam is that we get to see artistes like Sai Kumar, Sharvanand and Sundeep Kishan, who tend to take the craft of acting seriously.
While Sai Kumar can boast of a long pedigree with decades of experience behind him, the youngsters in the film Sharvanand and Sundeep Kishan come with a filmography that can’t fill a single page in a pocketbook and yet they are satisfying.
The movie essentially revolves around three characters – mostly on Mitra (Sharvanand) and his father Lokanathan (Sai Kumar) and to a lesser degree on Mitra’s younger brother Chinna (Sundeep Kishan) – and their interaction with each other and with the political world. The rest is just icing.
Some Pleasing Songs
What’s an Indian movie without a collection of songs, right?
And there’s a whole bunch here too.
Among the various tracks, we loved Naayudochchaadoe, Payaname and Evado Vaadu.
Bedaro, we found the most irritating with its picturization of the usual simian antics of a college dance.
Bottom Line – Go for It
Amidst the detritus of films like Varudu, Arya, Arya 2, Darling et al that plague Tollywood, Prasthanam struck us as a nice, well-made movie.
A richly-layered story, good acting, strong dialogs, decent photography and OK music seem like a fair bargain for $11.
Go for it, folks.
Prasthanam is still playing in some theaters in the U.S. and surely in India too.
Not to encourage a movie like Prasthanam would be an act of dereliction.