Sekhar Kammula burst into public prominence with Anand (his second movie) in 2004. It was a well-made movie with a prominent role for the female protagonist. That was the debut movie for Kamalinee Mukherjee in Telugu and Telugu Film Industry didn’t exactly remember the last time they saw a debutante perform with such aplomb.
Say Pallavi is the debutante here and 13 years after Anand, we see a debutante performing like an accomplished performer.
The movie story, on the face of it, is simple: boy meets girl, both like each other and hesitate to say it to each other. It’s after this point that movies take a different route. Sekhar Kammula seeks to extend this bit to an ego clash and how they go about resolving it.
Varun (Varun Tej) and his two brothers (an older one and a younger one) live in the United States of America. While scouring through prospective profiles for the elder brother, they zero in on a family in rural Telangana. What catches the brothers’ notice is the mention of ‘no caste.’
It’s here that we are introduced to Bhanumathi (Sai Pallavi) and her sister, Renuka. While Renuka is the silent one, Bhanumathi is the gregarious, boisterous and punch-in-your-face character. So, the elder brother, Raju falls for Renuka and waits to call on Varun for a second opinion (or so he says).
With the marriage scheduled for the ensuing week, Varun and Bhanumathi get close to the each other after the initial skirmish. A misunderstanding on the part of Bhanumathi drives a wedge in the relationship. When it is time for Varun to propose, she rejects the proposal. From then on, it is a tale of one-upmanship.
This is a regular story and needed an able director to be at the helm.
Sekhar Kammula is just the man the script required. He is superb at conceiving scenes. While the story seems simple, Sekhar weaves the scenes brilliantly. There are so many scenes where he lets the dialogues create the necessary impact. There are many scenes which grab our attention. One such scene involves a phone call between Satyam Rajesh, friend of the hero, and Sai Pallavi. He mentions that women in America would stand in a queue to kiss him and why is she being so adamant in talking to him. The repartee, by Sai Pallavi, is what brings the house down. She asks him to call Guinness Book of records instead.
The cinematography is good. The way drizzle plays a part in the movie is worth mentioning. Sai Pallavi is a choreographer’s dream. She does a good job in the wedding song and the choreographer for the song deserves a good round of applause. To make a romantic movie without a hummable melody might have been a crime some years ago, but you don’t miss it in this movie
Another thing that Sekhar Kammula aced in the movie is the casting. Sai Pallavi acts so brilliantly that you would feel she was born for this role. She is a perfect fit for Bhanumathi’s role. She dances well, emotes well and to master slang in a language that’s not her mother tongue takes some doing. Years later, she can fondly look back at her performance in this movie. She is the heart and soul of the movie. One would wonder why the movie wasn’t named Bhanumathi.
Varun Tej acts well, but he needs to work on his diction especially when the actor opposite him is ripping into her role with ease. He also should take care in maintaining the continuity in body form unless the role demands for the opposite. In the movie, he frequents between lean and bulky pretty often.
Apart from Sai Pallavi, it is Sekhar Kammula who will walk away with his head held high. His casting of Satyam Rajesh is a masterstroke. In a recent interview to a daily, he said that he wanted to name the movie as Musuru (drizzle) but thought Fidaa would be better. Though Musuru would’ve been apt considering the constant drizzle in the movie and the character sketch of Sai Pallavi, Fidaa is a name that’s more appealing. The undertone of Agriculture and father-daughter relationship is as subtle as possible, without being overbearing on the plot. If I have to be pathological and criticize for the sake of criticizing then Sekhar Kammula should’ve shown the time difference between India and USA a little more realistically (Mind you this thing is only for a scene)
Before I wrap it all up, it should be mentioned that Sai Pallavi’s character, Bhanumathi is a fan of Pawan Kalyan and there are references to his movies, songs and dialogues. Nobody can afford to say #cheppanubrother, can they?
Usually an agrarian family is shown to be based in the coastal districts. By basing it in Telangana, Sekhar doesn’t tread the usual path and it is a relief. It’s the subtlety and finesse with which he weaves the scenes that makes the movie a must-watch.
Image courtesy: idlebrain.com
An edited version of the review appeared on fullhyd.com