By Munish Rathore

Candid admission: I haven’t seen a lot of Telugu films. The ones I have, I haven’t been very impressed with, but my love for period dramas and Sai Pallavi drove me to give this one a shot, and might I say, I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I was very pleased!

The movie is a well-made masala entertainer. It has two love stories that unfold in different eras, a small but decent portion of courtroom sequences, and grandeur and scale; it draws on the rich and vibrant culture of Bengal, and has some stunning Telugu song and dance sequences. A potboiler, in short.

The film is about an aspiring Telugu director who gets embroiled in a copyright tussle, charged with stealing a dead Bengali author’s work. He is put behind bars for ripping-off a story from a language he can’t read or understand. As the case reaches the court, a series of twists and turns lead to the revelation that (dramatic pause) this director is actually the reincarnation of the author. That brings down the curtains on the first half of the film.

The second half of the films is set in the 60s, where Shyam Singha Roy- played by Nani- is a revolutionary, upper-caste hero who fights societal ills to the chagrin of his own family and village elders. Hoping to make a mark in the world, he decides to leave for Calcutta, but the night he is supposed to scoot, he finds himself in a temple complex mesmerized by Sai Pallavi who plays Maitreyi/ Rosie performing an awe-inspiring dance sequence. Sai Pallavi is a Devdasi who is confined to the courtyards of a temple complex, held hostage by an evil Pujari.

What follows is a budding romance between Nani and Pallavi, who manages to sneak out during the nights. These nocturnal excursions are craftfully created. Each night a little more stunning than the previous. Sai has very few dialogues but her expressions and her moves speak louder than words. The cinematography of these sequences is beautiful and shows how good scenes can be shot even with very little lighting and practically no dialogues.

The film would have been perfect had it not slid down the slope of the knight-in-shining-armour-rescuing-the-damsel-in-distress trope. But I guess the hero has to showcase his heroics for the audience to lap it up, especially when it comes to films that are meant for the masses. The end seems a bit stretched but even that redeems itself with an older Sai Pallavi veing discovered by our young director-reincarnation of Sai Pallavi. As one of my friends put it, ‘that scene has a separate fan-base’, but Sai Pallavi simping aside, the film has a decent amount of merit for one watch.

You can stream the film on Netflix.

Munish Rathore

Munish Rathore is a full-time journalist,
part-time dreamer and an aspiring writer. In
his free time he can be seen curled up in front
of the TV bawling over the latest tear-jerker.

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