Srinu Vaitla’s (without Kona Venkat) Aagadu

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When a director-writer combine goes their separate ways, it’s impossible to gauge the immediate impact. When Trivikram Srinivas and K Vijayabhaskar split, it was seen that the director was the one to suffer in terms of immediate box office impact. For reasons unknown, Srinu Vaitla and Kona Venkat (Gopi Mohan included) aren’t together anymore. There is a visible impact- the role of Brahmanandam isn’t properly etched.

The last time that Srinu Vaitla can claim to have done something different was way back in 2001 – Anandam. It was a movie well received because of its story and songs. The portents of the template based movies were probably laid with Sontham. Yes, the template worked commercially and guaranteed dividends to the producers.

Brahmanandam is the most critical component of his movies. Right from Venky, there are a few scenes, at least, in the movie where the hero plays a second fiddle to him. Now it doesn’t matter whether it’s Ravi Teja, Nagarjuna, Mahesh Babu, Ram or Venkatesh, they have all played second fiddle to him in Vaitla’s movies. Chiranjeevi didn’t in Andarivaadu and we know the box office fate of the movie.

Now it’s clear that those hilarious episodes were courtesy Kona Venkat. It wouldn’t be hyperbole to say that the episodes involving Brahmanandam raised the movie to an altogether different level. Youtube provides you access to a lot of videos where only scenes involving Brahmanandam are cut and pasted in a single video.

Ask anyone who has seen Venky, Dhee, Dubai Seenu, Ready, King, Namo Venkatesha, Dookudu and Badshah, as to what they remember from these movies and majority of replies would involve sequences with Brahmanandam.

In Aagadu, he arrives to a deafening response, but the laughs refused to come after a certain point. This, according to me, is the biggest drawback of the movie. Probably a few of us might say that Srinu was deviating from the template in the movie. No, he wasn’t.

It would be doing grave injustice if we didn’t say that the writing killed the movie and execution more so. Put in a blunt manner, Srinu Vaitla needs to gather his act and soon.

 

Mahesh Babu is coming off a disaster and that shows. The immediate response in the face of a flop is to go back to the comfort zone. For him, it probably was with Srinu Vaitla. Though people who saw the movie would say that the first half had its share of comedy, I would say that the repetitiveness of the comedy track killed the comedy. The hyperbole of Srinu Vaitla didn’t help him. He said at the audio function that if Dookudu was 10%, then Aagadu would be 100%. There can be nothing farther from truth then that. The plight of Mahesh fans was akin to the fans in Neninthe movie. They lie in wait for a brilliant display in every scene and are deflated at every point. Though he attempts to dance in the movie, they pale in comparison to the moves by Tammana.

Tammana proves that she is one of the best female dancers in the country. In all the duets, it’s her dancing that you would want to watch again.

Rest of the actors just make up the numbers.

Perhaps the most telling comment on the movie was this

 

Verdict: I didn’t like the movie, but I don’t dictate box office collections

 

 

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Thoughts on ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’

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First things first. I didn’t actually intend to read this book. I wanted to buy ‘Born to run’ and ended up buying this book. After reading the book, I can safely say that it was a good choice. It is a translated version from Japanese

 

The book has a life like pace. It goes about slowly, but doesn’t ever meander. The book is about describing the events in a certain period. It talks about, in the initial pages, how he took to running and writing. More fascinating is the narration where he talks about deciding to write. It is endearing, to an extent, that he doesn’t want to paint it as anything but a whim.

 

Haruki Murakami is a popular author and he has a style of writing. I haven’t read enough of neither his books nor other great works to classify it specifically. What keeps you glued to the book are the trials and tribulations of the author. I don’t quite know if it was planned or by accident that he tends to concentrate on the fact that he too, like a lot of others, has failed. What keeps him going in the face of failure is his stubbornness.

 

He believes in the power of persistence. At the outset, he says

 

No matter how mundane an action might appear, keep at it long enough and it becomes a contemplative, even meditative act

 

We get to know a lot about the man when he talks about the time he felt he wanted to write. He broke even and started making some money at the jazz bar he owned. As mentioned before, he decided on a whim that he wanted to write and despite a lot of people suggesting him not to, he decided to go ahead with the whim. One thing you can’t grudge him is his preparation – he shifts to peaceful environs and equips himself with everything that’s needed to write. It was around the same time that he developed the habit of running.

 

Running served needs other than that of fitness too. It helped him deal with many other things in life

 

When I am criticised unjustly (from my viewpoint, at least), or when someone I’m sure will understand me doesn’t, I go running for a little longer than usual. By running longer it’s like I can physically exhaust that portion of my discontent

 

Fortunately, he gives a lot of hope of us who want to be runners

 

When I first started running, I couldn’t run long distances. I could only run for about twenty minutes, or thirty. That much left me panting, my heart pounding, my legs shaky

 

Then there is ATHENS MARATHON. It was here that he encountered a difficult stretch, made even more difficult because of the terrain and also the weather conditions. He refused to give in. The temper got to him, a feeling common to him during the marathons, in the final stretch, but this time he was really angry. Not even the monument at Marathon can make him cool down. It is here that he acknowledges the helping hand that the locals give to the runners.

He also talks about ultra marathon and the triathlon he ran in. The problems he faced in both of them and how he tried his best to overcome them makes a good read

The way he talks about talent, focus and endurance is brilliant. When I read what he wrote about endurance, my mind immediately went to what Rafael Nadal said about it in his book. The private correspondence that he has with Raymond Chandler and how he built focus and endurance even when he didn’t write is breathtaking.

 

There’s very less of humour in the book, but the moment that can count as one is the occasion where he has address a gathering of students. He says he is comfortable in reaching out to them in English than Japanese, because when he talks in Japanese he has more than one word to explain a situation but since his vocabulary in English is limited, it helps him in sticking to the context.

 

 

 

Thoughts on Rabhasa

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When the song ‘Raakasi Raakasi’ was released I couldn’t help but wonder as to why box office success is eluding NTR for a long time. He can act well, dance well, emote well and probably is the best modulator of voice in Telugu Film Industry now. Now we can add singing to the repertoire as well.

NTR, in a short span of thirteen years, can claim to have been through a lot that very few actors can claim to have. Ever since he appeared on the marquee as a child artiste in Bala Ramayanam, he was earmarked for stardom. It was not a question of if, but when! His debut film was an unmitigated disaster. His second film, helmed by SS Rajamouli, was a fair indicator of his capabilities than his first.

Though he rose to stardom with Aadi, there was a frequent criticism, not untrue, that he tried to use lineage to the maximum possible effect. A lot of people were of the opinion that he grew in the industry with sheer willpower. From being a mascot of a specific caste to being dropped like a hot potato by the same people- NTR has seen it all. Probably, this being out of favour with some influential people has affected his standing in the industry as well.

The last blockbuster we had from NTR was Adurs- whatever the makers of Badshah do to convince you, don’t believe that it’s a blockbuster. He campaigned for TDP while the shooting of Adurs was on. At that time, going by the way he spoke at the road shows, he was considered a Chief Minister candidate in the future- once again in the footsteps of his much revered grandfather. Though TDP are in power, his name is not heard in the circles that matter.

The experiences- good or bad- leave you a changed man. NTR, much like all of us, was also a changed man. Gone was the man, who was on the threshold of Superstardom. Instead we have an actor who is struggling to add a blockbuster to his filmography. He has himself to blame for trusting the directors rather than the script.

His choices after Yamadonga make you feel that he wants to knock on the doors of Superstardom again. Nothing else can explain him acting in two Meher Ramesh movies in three years. If Kantri had shades of Mahesh Babu from Pokiri in it, Homo Sapiens are still trying to figure out the mess that Shakti was. Apart from Brindavanam and the aforementioned movies, there hasn’t been a movie of NTR (after Yamadonga) which has been helmed by a director without a super hit or a blockbuster as his previous movie.

Probably not craving for the blockbuster might set the actor and performer in him free. He needs to be particularly careful while choosing his movies in future.

Santosh Srinivas was a cinematographer before he earned his chance as a director for Kandireega. Kandireega was watchable only because of Sonu Sood. He took a lot of time to make Rabhasa. Yes, he fell sick during the making but all he could come up with a brilliant performer at hand was a mixture of Ready, Mirchi and Don Seenu.

There were a lot of stories doing the rounds of the disagreements between NTR and Santosh, but they were all squashed by the parties concerned. If at all the stories were true, then they must have been because of the poor execution by Santosh.

Bluntly said, it’s difficult to see him get a chance to direct the big stars in the near future

Samantha has completed her transition from a beautiful lady to a glamour doll. While it’s good to see her trying for versatility, you would still love to see her enact the sort of roles she did in the initial part of her career and the one she did in Manam. Every attempt to get closer to the masses (so-called!) with her skin show has resulted in her falling flat on her face. A quick question to herself can untangle her from the dilemma that she finds herself in- will people remember Samantha from Ye Maaya Chesaave or Alludu Seenu ?

 

It is baffling to see Praneetha laying waste to a golden chance provided by the blockbuster that Attarintiki Daredhi was. Only she can explain why she agreed to the two bit role in the movie. She will soon find herself relegated to inconsequential roles if she doesn’t choose carefully.

 

There are a lot of characters in the movie and not all of them have been utilized well.

 

Verdict : The movie might be aired on channels in a few months now, which would be a good time to see it

 

Image Courtesy: idlebrain.com