C/O Kancharapalem broke the evident barriers that Telugu cinema put in between its audience and the performers. It’s actors are not well-known which made me root for the characters and not the people playing it. It features actors in their natural form and doesn’t care if they are not skinny or fair or super sexy. It is taut- it doesn’t digress into colorful songs shot overseas or fights to showcase anyone’s heroism and there is no inflicted comedy. It’s screenplay is clever which had me in my seat until the climax credits started rolling though I have an active toddler at home. Lastly, it is strictly one of the very few Telugu films that is not ashamed to show the village/town life on screen without romanticizing it.
The first half of the film starts by introducing its characters in 4 different threads intertwined like a well made braid. As the film progresses, you’d notice there is one single element which is a common theme of each story – love. Each story has a male who is trying to win his love but has to face different hurdles that society poses based on his age. There is a pre-teen Sundaram who believes that a Hindu God is helping him all along and when he loses his love, he is frightened to confront his lover’s father and is frustrated that his God did not help. There is a young Joseph, who believes in Christ and when he loses his love because he is a Christian, he is devastated that his God did not help. There is Gaddam, who is neither religious nor spiritual and when he loses his love to the forces that are controlling his lover’s faith and job, he has no one to blame. Then, there is Raju, who believes in humanitarianism and when he almost loses his love to the objections that society has, you’ll have to see what happens.
C/O Kancharapalem is a beautiful garland with its stories as different flowers tied together by a single thread- love. This definition of love is different in each story.
- To Sundaram and Suneetha: It’s about the teenage crushes.
The constant trials to be seen by the crush, to talk to them or to be with them. Sundaram doesn’t mind being ridiculed for wearing a pink shirt because his lady love likes that color. He encourages his love to sing her favorite song and goes above and beyond to help her do that.
- To Joseph and Bhargavi: It’s about being responsible and accepting others’ faith
There is a subtle hint that Joseph wants to grow politically but he realizes that he needs a stable job if he wants to start a family with Bhargavi. Similarly Bhargavi- who is raised as a brahmin, doesn’t mind to convert to be with religiously inclined Joseph.
- Gaddam and Saleema- Accepting others’ past and choices
Gaddam’s love for Saleema is not faltered when he comes to know that she is a hooker; In fact, the same hooker with whom his friends slept. Saleema is stern that she would not stop and he accepts. He silently slips protection to her hands when he learns that her mother died of AIDS. Spell bounding performance by Gaddam made me like this story even more.
- Raju and Radha- Companionship that is much needed by two lonely souls.
Raju is a 50 year old bachelor who works as an attendant in the office where Radha is an officer. Though all of Kancharapalem just wants to see Raju married, and also tease him and suspect that he is gay, Raju is happy as he is. He is more than happy to simply be friends with Radha who proposes to him. The romance between the two develops slowly and realistically, with the emphasis being on companionship and liking each other for their philosophies. I loved how unapologetic Radha was throughout the film for liking Raju.
- Rammoorthy and this wife- Believing in each other.
Rammoorthy is an artisan struggling to make money by building a Ganesh idol. He has speech issues but there is no dearth in his talent. One of the many charms of the film is how it demonstrates the day to day frustrations he experiences. People finish his sentences off because they don’t have time to listen. His wife believes in him and takes pride in her husband’s skills. He warmly reciprocates in a different way- he discusses with her before making a big decision! The whole track between these two is very endearing to watch.
Kishore Polimera who played Rammoorthy is a fantastic find and my favorite of all in Kancharapalem. The shock and despair that he conveys in one scene without saying a word is top-notch. He is the real ‘natural actor’ if you know what I mean.
C/O Kancharapalem also asks great questions. When was the last time a Telugu movie made subtle comments on religion, social status, age and gender equality without making it obvious? This film does that with ease. For example, Radha’s daughter is a firebrand who questions her uncle for not approving her mother’s choice and the dialogues in this scene fit the bill perfectly. She also taunts her mother to stop acting for society when she has already made a decision. It is hard-hitting.
C/O Kancharapalem is technically brilliant. Supporting cast are mostly locals and that helps carry a natural feel though the story is fictional. Sync sound does wonders and complements the scenes very well. Back ground music and the sound track are beautiful with meaningful lyrics by Raghukul Mokirala. The inexperience in acting shows in some of the scenes but if you can watch it till the end until the last titles roll, the film delivers a very pleasant and satisfying experience.
‘Patti patti’ is my favorite song in this film that my son also approves of 🙂
I want to end with some words that I’ve never felt before when watching a Telugu movie in the recent past -‘Simple yet extraordinary’.