Prasthanam Review – OMG, A Classy Telugu Movie!

(for SI blog reader Araj)

Classy Telugu film?

Ha ha ha. ๐Ÿ˜†

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 compellingย  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.

Decent Acting

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.

10 Responses to "Prasthanam Review – OMG, A Classy Telugu Movie!"

  1. araj   May 3, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Looks like you are impressed there.

    People say this movie has shades of RGV’s Sarkar, which in turn is a copy of Godfather. However, though I believe the characters and situations in these kind of movies usually tend to be unnaturally sensitive and unrealistically dramatic respectively, thus spurring one’s sense of deja vu, no harm, i guess, in giving it a shot. Responds:

    We didn’t think much of Sarkar. Perhaps, we had just rewatched Godfather prior to that.

    Satya was the only RGV film we thoroughly enjoyed.

  2. sganeshkumar1989   May 3, 2010 at 8:49 am

    So,talent still exists in the film industry thankfully.
    I hope the director delivers many more better films in future and avoid becoming a ‘one-hit wonder’. Responds:

    According to Wiki, Prasthanam is Deva Katta’s second film (Vennela was the first).

    • sganeshkumar1989   May 3, 2010 at 10:01 am

      Oh! Then,it’s definitely an improvement over his debut film. ๐Ÿ™‚ Vennela(2005), was just ok,not as good as Prasthanam. Responds:

      We haven’t seen Vennela.

      Have you seen Prasthanam?

  3. chaitu1987   May 3, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I’ve seen Prasthanam and loved it for its intensity.

    Unfortunately, there were only a few people in the theatre. The movie is also facing shortage of theatres because of other big players in the field. Sad. Responds:

    There were about 7 or 8 people for the show we went to.

    We hope Prasthanam makes money. It deserves to.

  4. Twig   May 3, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    ah! after million years I guess, I got a desire to watch a Telugu movie for art’s sake.

    Also, people are coming with nice names for their movies. I see movies with excellent names in Tamil only, but never ever in Telugu. This is a good sign.

    Let poetic names come in Telugu too.

    Also, look out for another soon to be released movie called ‘Vedam’. Allu Arjun has kept aside his mass image and started thinking about genuine cinema, I believe.
    THis is the trailer. Responds:

    You write above: Allu Arjun has kept aside his mass image and started thinking about genuine cinema, I believe.

    Ass image, not mass image.

    Watched the trailer. Didn’t do much for us.

    Amalapuram Saroja ha ha ha. Funny name.

    What next? Chilakaluripet Chinnama? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. racer44   May 5, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Seeing that you occasionally check out movies based on readers’ wishes, i would like to ask whether you could review this old Selvaraghavan movie- 7 G Rainbow Colony. I remember you commenting somewhere under the Vinnaithaandi varuvaaya review that great love stories should be rooted in the milieu of their times or some such thing. Well, I think this one would fit that tag pretty well. It reflects the joys and disappointments of the adolescent age realistically and also neatly blends it in the overall context of living together in a colony in North Chennai where people of different cultures grow up together, and how their lives cross.

    It is pretty much a cult movie in Tamilnadu, like all other tamil movies Selva has directed.(Not exaggerating, every movie of his, right from Kadhal Kondein to this one, and(to a few discerning fans) Pudhupettai, and now Aayirathil Oruvan has cultivated a huge reputation).

    Though, a word of caution. The lead duo are rather well-known for their utter inablilty to emote. Under the circumstances, Selva has coaxed some passable perormances from them. So don’t expect to be over-awed by them.

    Netflix has the movie. Please do check it out. .

    It has some great music too and a mind-blowing theme music.

    P.S.The hero Ravi Krishna, is the producer’s son, and makes his debut (deja vu for some millionth time, I know ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Responds:

    1. Will watch 7 G Rainbow Colony and review in the near future.

    2. You write: It has some great music too and a mind-blowing theme music.

    Listened to the 7G/Rainbow Colony theme music a few seconds back.

    We think 7G/Rainbow Colony theme music has strong echoes of Ennio Morricone’s classic work in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

    Bet you didn’t know that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    You can watch/listen to Ennio Morricone’s work in the Sergio Leone film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Clint Eastwood) on this YouTube video.

    The pitch is higher in Morricone’s work.

    We’d like to know what other readers think.

    Does 7G/Rainbow Colony’s theme music have shades/echoes of Morricone’s fine theme from the spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?

    3. As we were checking out the Netflix summary, stumbled upon 7G/Brindavan Colony with the same cast. Looks like the movie was made in Telugu too.

    Flummoxed as to why ‘Rainbow’ morphed into ‘Brindavan’ in Telugu.

    Maybe, Rainbow was too Englishey a word for the pappu-annam eating Telugus. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • racer44   May 5, 2010 at 10:51 pm

      “Does 7G/Rainbow Colonyโ€™s theme music have shades/echoes of Morriconeโ€™s fine theme from the spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?”

      Nope. They sounded very different at too many levels. And, suitable though the Morricone theme certainly was to the action unfolding on screen, the 7G theme struck me as infinitely superior, and basically it had a far better tune.
      Drawing upon my limited store of french, C’est Magnifique.

      And the 7G Brindavan colony was not made in telugu. Just dubbed, as frequently happens for a popular tamil or telugu movie. Don’t know the reason for the name change. I don’t think it was numerology, though. Read somewhere Selva is an atheist. Responds:

      1. Parts of the theme music in 7G/Rainbow Colony have a strong Western classical lilt as to seem alien to the Tamil milieu. Not sure if this medley is a good or bad thing.

      We still have a deja vu feeling while listening to the 7G/Rainbow Colony theme music, particularly from 36th second.

      2. You write: Read somewhere Selva is an atheist.

      Wow, at least one sensible guy among the lot.

  6. racer44   May 5, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    @SI: “Parts of the theme music in 7G/Rainbow Colony have a strong Western classical lilt as to seem alien to the Tamil milieu. Not sure if this medley is a good or bad thing.”


    As far as the medley is concerned, I look at it this way. Be it fusion or carnatic or classical western or Tamil Kuthu Paatu or tamil melody (Ilaiyaraja style and/or Rahman style), what matters is ultimately how pleasing the music is. Genres are not superior/inferior in themselves. Certain songs/music bring out the best out of a genre or a combination of one or more genres and certain songs/music fail along the way.

    By that yardstick, I find 7G’s theme to be a wonderful work of art. It is powerful and the climax is like a momentous denouement, and you’ll agree after watching the film that the music complements the film perfectly. Responds:

    You write above: As far as the medley is concerned, I look at it this way. Be it fusion or carnatic or classical western or Tamil Kuthu Paatu or tamil melody (Ilaiyaraja style and/or Rahman style), what matters is ultimately how pleasing the music is.

    Fair enough.

    We’ll try and watch the movie soon.

  7. Twig   May 7, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Let me say few words on 7G Rainbow/brindavan colony.
    When I first heard about this movie in Hyderabad, there was a rumour that this was based on a real story based in some region of hyd.(I forgot the name).
    7G Brindavan colony was shot in Telugu too, as trivial as that there is no chandra mohan and whole bunch of new actors in Tamizh.

    The music by Yuvan Shankar Raja is good. It has no inspirations from west, what so ever. But But a bit of the song (very imp) was plagiarized( or simply a homage, like?) from the movie ‘Johnny’ – composed by master musician Ilayaraja.
    Check here.

    Listen to the bit starting at t=2:04 and then at t=6:48

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