Rant alert!

As I type this, I am listening to ARR’s Mental Madhilo from OK Bangaram and I don’t know if I like it or dislike it. I know I am inviting trouble but the magic of ARR(and Ilayaraja) seems to have faded in recent times. Let’s talk about “I”. No, it’s alright. Let’s get back to the topic. I respect ARR and IR’s respect to their professional integrity by reusing their own compositions but it has become a tiring exercise to start enjoying and stop thinking about their old songs which new ones are reminding of. For example, all those who thought that mental madhilo is brand new and has no slightest tinge of ARR’s other songs can raise your hands now. (Kamal- you can lower your hand because you do not count).

Not just that, the visuals of OK Bangaram have a striking resemblance to Sakhi and Yuva. A guy who is not into commitments and a pretty girl with curly hair who tries to talk him into marriage plus maniratnam -what strikes you if not Yuva? You can say that any scene on the Chennai local train need not be that of Sakhi‘s but sorry, romance on the local trains with hero and heroine on opposite ones does not remind of anything else. The same genius of ManiRatnam created that magic which has not still faded away. On a separate note, dear unmarried ladies, do not expect that you would spot Madhavan(s) when you footboard Chennai trains. Try looking elsewhere or at least settle with the name like I did.

The plight of Telugu movies is better not talked about because the way it is being ridiculed nowadays (by our own people) is sad. Twitter is a fresh break from facebook’s nonsense and it is where I learnt how much Tollywood is picked on. To my dismay, not all of the twitterage is nonsense. First they called our film industry nepotistic because all the active heroes we have are from the families who are being here from Indus valley civilization and never left ever since. How true because there is no stopping of heroes coming from those families. Acting skills are no longer a requirement to act in movies. We do have a few good actors who are either reluctant to experiment or falling for the urgency to make as many movies as possible to stay in light. Such movies are lacking good scripts.

Coming to scripts, I read an interesting comparison about them- that they are much like a white elephant with wings. No, not precious or something, such things don’t exist. I realized that two things which are common to every Telugu cinema these days are 1)basic outline of one hero, 1 or more heroines falling for him without even a second thought about why they should, family drama with extended members and 2)Brahmanandam. Point 2 reminds me of comedy. This was one aspect which was okay until recent times but it has started degrading too. The dialogues and comedy used to be catchy once upon a time but the increasing importance to so called “punch dialogues” has ruined the total thing. The unnecessary importance to make catchy one liners is interfering with the pace of the story. As an example, how many of you do not think Trivikram is losing it and is a better dialogue writer than a director?

Then some people said whatever innovation our directors have done are copied from Hollywood. They also said instead of spending on twitter, film makers should spend time on Youtube and learn not to copy the ideas so blatantly. I did not watch many Hollywood movies but I can vouch for two facts- Julai has a scene directly lifted from Dark Knight. Manmadhudu is not even close to “What Women Want” even though both Nagarjuna and Mel Gibbson used lipstick on their eyes. I mean there are some honest thoughts which are getting lost in this generalization and the others are just giving us a facepalm followed by a slap for watching.

Few people said we need scripts like Raghuvaran Btech because it is innovative. I was looking for the so called innovation but I slept through the movie ( well almost). There was NONE. Also, I ended up spending that night thinking about which last dubbed movie had a plot in which nobody died. May be it is a kind of sentiment there like our obsession with an “item song”.

These days I wonder if the films are getting bad or we have become so critical that we want everything to be super fresh and flawless (Is it too much of a requirement or is it okay asking because we are spending some time and money on movies? I don’t know). Please do not say that viewers do not have right to complain because they don’t know the ABC of film making. Film makers also seem to have forgotten the ABC and hence there is no good movie that we want to watch again when it is on TV on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Or a movie which we don’t mind watching in the theaters for a second time. Or the one we want to recommend to a friend. Or the one which is going to win some recognition.

I know liking/disliking is a personal choice and cannot be generalized. But there is a concept of majority that determines the success/failure of a film in its all dimensions like above. I also think the decade before this and even before, we saw some such movies. What do you think will their fate be had they been made today? What would happen if a film like Geethanjali is released today? Will it be a box office hit? Will our so called film critics say it is a master piece and give it a good rating? Will the twitterage accept the film or just say the film should have been a trailer for Apollo hospitals or Ooty tourist development corporation?

</rant>

Now watching: Seetharammaya gari Manavaralu

Not too long ago, in 90’s, Telugu cinema did not follow the golden rule of having a famous hero, a fight to showcase his strength, a song that follows in which he preaches how to deal with the world’s evils with peace and mosquitoes without a “Hit” bottle, a heroine with some honor that he can save in fights and loot in songs. I know and I admit that the roots of hero worship date back to 90’s and before but I certainly do not see any warmth in that worship now.

source: wiki

Seetharamayya gari manavaralu translates to “The granddaughter of Seetharammayya”. As the title says, it is the story of a girl and her grandfather. An honorable old man who sticks to his roots in every part of this life – right from the house he lives in to when to bring his daughter home for her delivery. His only son(Vasu) marries a girl against his wish and much to Vasu’s despair, Seetharamayya stops talking to him though he accepts his marriage. Vasu who is unable to take his father’s rage escapes to the US and waits to unite with him. Enters Seetha- daughter of Vasu and his wife from the US to attend a cousin’s wedding and she never goes back to her father. Why she never goes back and what happens in the extended family forms the story.

The terms like “love”, “father’s rage”, “US return”, “extended family”, “aunts” are enough to make a film with half of Dilsukhnagar’s population and call it a family entertainer to pull crowds. For instance, you can imagine one song in the US to show Seetha’s lavish life and what she is forgoing in her journey to India. There are two young men in the story who are prospective grooms for her. That gives scope for a romance track in which they can touch her and pinch her so that she falls in love. There is an old man in the story who is not fond of Seetharamayya. Strong enough reason for a big fight scene in which the village carts can be in the air for some time.

SRGM is fortunately different and is lovable for the following reasons:

  • Seetha is back to India not just to attend the wedding but for good. She has the herculean task of conveying to her grandparents that her parents are dead when they are all eyes waiting for their son’s return. Meena as Seetha is lovable and has pulled off the role very easily. Most Telugu films live on the concept “read-my-diary-know-my-story”. I think SRGM is the one which started it.

    source: youtube

  • Rohini Hattangadi, as I know now, is a Marathi theatre artist. But as a child, I refused to believe that she is NOT a Telugu and not the wife of ANR. Call it my stupidity or her awesomeness, I cannot imagine SRGM without a grandmother as perfect as her. That grandmother whose eyes turn wet when she sees her son’s family photo and she calls it the “best gift” anybody gave her. That grandmother who is proud of Seetha when everyone admires her. That grandmother who is sad that a married Seetha would leave their house someday just as her son. That grandmother who is elated when Seetha pledges never to leave her. All praises to the director for perfectly showing her affection without unnecessary melodrama.

    source: youtube

  • An audience would loathe Seetharamayya for sending away the couple (indirectly) in the beginning but as the film progresses, it is revealed that he is one person who values the relationship with his son more than his ego. That moment in which he tells Rohini that he himself had written a letter to Vasu to come down is my second favorite here. The first one is when he recites Keats poetry as Seetha watches him with awe. The thoughtful grandfather always kept hoping his son would come back to him with kids and he learns English for their sake!

    source: youtube

  •  Enough and not many characters which have some connection to the story. They are prominent and help in building the characters of the main three. There are several scenes which are tear jerkers and they are genuine. You cry because you relate to it and not because the scene is not over yet!
  •  Most of the film has been shot on the banks of Godavari (from the dialogues) and Krishna (I heard so). There are beautiful shots of sunsets and green fields with canals and it is not an exaggeration to say that the spirit of a village has been perfectly captured. This frame in the end with the message is my all-time favorite.

SRGM to Telugu Cinema is what Saaransh is to Hindi cinema. Intense play of emotions and can be a heavy dose if you are watching it after a heavy Sunday lunch. I wish it was fast and short but I also think such a film should not be altered. Because every frame of it is honest and is a toil to reach out to the audience without any compromise on the values.

Now watching- Mr.Pellam

The plot of this movie is the simplest anyone can think of. Swapping of roles between wifey and husband. Which is actually sensible unlike the telephone exchange advt of Idea cellular mobile (thu!). Talk about a middle class family in which husband is the bread earner and the wife is a home maker. Kindly note that the term “home-maker” was not used to escape from the sandals which will rain if I say “house-wife”. The wife  here is a real home-maker. Due to unavoidable event turns, the swapping of roles happens and the real show starts.

source: 123tamilforum.com

Aamani as Jhansi is not only pretty (doesn’t need my testimony. She is Baapu’s heroine) but also great as a wife and mother. Probably

source:123tamil

what wins is the way her role is etched. Negatives first:  Jhansi feels bad that her husband doesn’t shower the same love which he did before their wedding. She gets enraged when he doesn’t treat her like his equal and so she instantly lies about her compensation when he makes fun of her. She wants to get her husband out of his trouble and unknowingly she hurts his ego in the process. There is a friend (Gopal) who she confides in for this and seeks his help to make up for the loss. The most common traits of women (IMO) are that we seek respect along with love, we keep comparing past to the present and there has to be at least one close friend who is their crying pillow and moral support. On the bright side, Jhansi as a wife is desirable. She is pretty, well read, extremely loving and loyal.

source:teluguone

Playing the husband’s role must have been a cake walk for Dr.Rajendra Prasad given his acting skills. He is one of our few actors who doesn’t have a hate-club. The husband in the film might seem chauvinistic but he cannot be blamed. Though he is egoistic, he is also very affectionate and knows when and how to apologize.  Like most men, he is possessive about his wife and the scenes that ensue are supremely cute. He cannot recollect the correct name of Gopal though he can never get him off his mind 🙂  The scenes in which he congratulates Jhansi on her job and the one in which admires that she had treasured all the letters he sent her deserve a special mention.

Baapu-Ramana are nothing less than a boon to TFI. I need not explain why. The humor in the movie is  laughs-earning not because of Brahmanandam who always gets slapped/fooled by the hero (there is no Brahmanandam in this film. Sorry folks!). It is also not because of some cheap dialogues which indirectly imply some perversion. It is because the dialogues are witty and sarcastic.  More importantly, they go with the flow.

For example:

source: teluguone

Neighbor:కాస్త కందిపప్పు ఉంటె అప్పిప్పించవూ..

RJP: ఇప్పిప్పించను.

Neighbor: ఇదే మా అమ్మడైతే కప్పులో కప్పుడిచ్చి గుప్పెట్లో గుప్పుడిచ్చేది.

Also the way RJP trolls AVS on Krishnashtami can never be forgotten. After all, అతలు కృష్ణాష్టమి అంటే కిట్టుడి బడ్డే.

Keeravani, who if you noticed or failed to notice, can give the most apt back ground music  to any scene. The songs in Mr.pellam are melodious and rightly placed if not the best. The famous Krishnashtami song is my most favorite one of the five. The word play relating Krishna’s pranks to Gopal’s actions is very cleverly done.

There are scenes in tens which bring a natural smile on viewer’s face and I think that is what makes this movie a delight to watch. My eyes bled when I saw a trailer in which they tried to imitate Pelli pustakam’s title song. I am only praying that some classics are left as-is. Mr.pellam is one such untouchable. Not because it is great, it is right. Just right.