Under the entertaining veneer, Sekhar Kammula tackles relevant issues with sensitivity and draws alluring performances by Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi
How do you define honor? Is it about adhering to caste norms, or is it about creating a safe environment and instilling confidence in a child to speak up when things go wrong? Director Sekhar Kammula uses a mainstream artist’s platform to introspect family audiences.
Love story has all the attributes of a Kammula movie. Music (the first composer Pawan Ch) can carry us away, the great lady with the strong will dances like a dream and the hero is a complete gentleman. Romance blooms on the terraces of middle-class homes in Padmarao Nagar, Secunderabad. While the film takes place in modest, unadorned larger-than-life settings, it shows just how absorbing a movie can be when there is a good script.
In Armoor, Telangana, Revanth (Naga Chaitanya) grows up listening to her mother (Easwari Rao) reiterate the importance of winning and living with dignity. She tells him that it is better to be in a position where you can provide financial assistance than to have to receive it. Revanth’s is a success story; he runs a small Zumba center in the big city. There are challenges, but he’s in a position where he can employ someone.
- Actors: Naga Chaitanya, Sai Pallavi, Easwari Rao, Rajeev Kanakala
- Director: Sekhar Kammula
- Music: Pawan Ch
Sekhar contrasts this with Mounica (Sai ââPallavi), an upper caste girl who arrives in the city with dreams in her eyes. Her family owns acres of land, but they have to fight for their rights, financial and otherwise. She realizes that her low engineering score won’t earn her a big salary. A long time after Happy Days (2007), in which Kammula focused on engineering campuses, he shows us the other side – of an engineer embracing her innate flair for dance to move forward in life, rather than pushing the keys to dance. ‘a computer from dawn to dusk. Mounica finds her wings to fly but lives in constant fear that her family will disapprove of her job. She calls him ‘narakam ‘ (hell) and you can empathize with his plight.
In the city, there are no caste differences between âusâ and âthemâ, at least on the surface. Revanth and Mouncia can take Zumba and dance classes together and earn a living. However, the cracks in society are exposed through the story of another couple.
Back in Armoor, there are revealing scenes where Revanth and his mother continue to be looked down upon by an upper caste household. His job is mocked and someone doesn’t hesitate to give him second-hand shirts.
Mounica and Revanth’s respective baggage from the past is an undercurrent of romance. He is tired of caste disparities. She too is struggling with something complex and must find the courage to express it. She finds solace in the city as she can breathe freely and does not have to look over her shoulders for her safety. In a cleverly written scene, she tells Revanth that she will dance as long as he always keeps two feet apart. We know it does not refer to caste; something else left her marked.
It’s a film where everything comes together in synergy. Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi internalize their roles so well that they are in tune with the characters they play. Chaitanya is natural and emotional in all sincerity, triumphant in a defining role for her career. Sai Pallavi is excellent, expressing Mounica’s tiny fears. Props for Easwari Rao and Gangavva’s funny cameo. Rajeev Kanakala acts as an embodiment of arrogance and evil so effectively that I have come to hate him thoroughly.
A handful of scenes take place in the vicinity of Purana Pul (computer graphics?), A reminder of a historic love story Hyderabad is associated with. Revanth and Mounica also have to cross the bridge amidst the storms, metaphorically speaking, in order to start life anew.
Love story could have been yet another SaÃ¯raat, but Sekhar skillfully steers him in a different direction in the last act. Romance is one of the most explored genres in commercial cinema and after a while it tends to be viewed with cynicism. But this one kept me invested; I watched impatiently, hoping Revanth and Mounica cleared the obstacles in their path.