Monday, January 29, 2007
bhaavayaami gOpaalabaalam manasaevitam tatpadam chintayEham
In the early nineties, Nescafe tried a very cute advertisement involving a couple (Suchita Krishnamurthy and another regular) settling into their house on the first day, to boost their coffee sales. Images of the guy putting up all the curtains, painting all the walls, arranging all the furniture, fumbling with his rolled up drawing sheets were intercut with his wife brewing a coffee in the kitchen - the visuals of the vapors of the coffee enhanced by the sunlight hitting the coffee cup at the right angle, the smile on her face complementing the fatigue on his face, the way he is woken up from his nap in the chair with a whiff of Nescafe. They settle down after what it passes as tiresome session with a couple of cups and the jingle in the background with a soothing voice croons - "manchi ruchi gala udayam kottha Sunrise". Despite the cloyingly sweet images, the mood that is way over the top, it somehow had a very endearing quality that allowed the viewer to be manipulated and played into the hands of the visuals. Though the intent is quite clear that the whole atmosphere of the setup would be bathed in bright imagery, attractive sights, stimulating music, the audience does not mind playing along with it (or rather, into it) for the simple reason that sometimes it is just unnecessary and unimportant to question the "why"s and "how"s of the image at hand and dissect it for the inner meanings and the true intents, lest the feeling that appealed to it in the first place is totally lost. It is always good to have the mind dictating the heart, but sometimes, it is better the reverse way.
muddu gaarae yaSOdaa mungiTa mutyaamu veeDu
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Shekhar Kammula was quite clear as to what tone he wanted the movie to progress along. He brought in the feel-good factor, the cute factor, the good-nature factor, the requisite silly tiffs between the lead couple factor, the mandatory jealousies and the misunderstandings factor and the obligatory effusive group dynamic factor into the movie, hitting all the right notes with each of the above achieving the perfect balance between the commercial and the off-beat formats. Nagesh Kukunoor, the Neil Armstrong of this neo-culture (as far as telugu movies are concerned), certainly paved the way for the likes of Shekar to venture into this new arena where the characters never rise above the playing field and the progress of the movie depends much upon the passage of the characters through their motions and emotions that are far more personal than their commercial counterparts. This new format pokes fun at the clichés of the regular format, while ironically indulging in them at the same time. This new format makes good use of personality of the characters to drive the plot than the other way around, which proves an earnest attempt without having to resort to dramatic licenses and suspension of disbelief. This new format aims to please in a pure and an earthy manner that is unsophisticated yet very real, unpolished yet more believable. Keeping the scope of the project well within the boundaries of plausibility, intelligence and reality, this new format has the added advantage of deriving its inspiration from the vast experience treasure of people around, than having to look else where at borrowed thoughts and uncommon threads.
raghu vamsa sudhaambudi chandra sree raama raama raajaeSwaraa
A lyric that is actually heard, a tune that is actually pleasant, the picturization that is actually pleasing and the result that is totally appealing - Veturi, Radhakrishnan and Shekhar achieved this seemingly impossible task of translating the prose of the script into aural and visual poetry, not only by matching the requirements of the commercial format but indeed exceeding the standards and the expectations of the song and dance routines which are integral to the narrative and are often time fillers and crowd pleasers. "masaka yennelallae nuvvu, isuka tenne chaerutaavu, gasagasaala kougilintha, gusagusallae maaruthaavu" - Veturi is firmly in his familiar saddle concocting and coining ideas and phrases employing his trademark andam, chilipitnam, nuDikaaram, chamatkaaram, Srungaaram and konTetanam. With Radhakrishnan setting up the right platform for words to dictate the moods and instruments to follow the ideas, Veturi takes the side of the female perspective, yet again, bringing Anand as close to his earlier "Srivaariki praemalekha" as possible. The background sounds resonate with the strings of veeNa, violin, jal-tarang, sarOd and many such classical instruments, while the background voices echo with classical notes of "endarO mahaanubhaavulu", "oka pari koka pari", "inta aanadandam nee vala naenaa". Radhkrishnan and Shekhar's judicious use of classical background enhances the mood of the scene and sometimes, sets up the mood of the same gelling quite well with the mellowed nature of the characters and the script.
manasula mallela maalaloogenae, kannula vennela dOlaloogenae
Setting the script in the monsoon and the winter times in Hyderabad, the rains that greet the city, the early morning sights of a typical winter day, the glitter of the distant lights around the necklace road in the night, the farmhouses and the nurseries in the suburbs, this movie celebrates the life in the city, aided by the impressive visuals of Vijay Kumar. The movie is replete with nice and observational touches that say much about the director's (and his photographer) ability to pay attention to the little things like capturing the cold breaths of the characters during the Bhogi festival, the paper boats floating around in the rivulets during the rains, the female lead walking into brighter light and sharper focus when she breaks off her earlier relationship, leaving him in unfocussed and hazy perspective, the use of the handheld camera during conversations between the lead character and his brother, indicating the lead character's state of mind, instead of the conventional cutting back and forth, and the like. While on the subject of tipping the hat for the technicians, Sunitha, who lent her voice to the female lead, deserves a serious and a special mention. Here is an artist who speaks Telugu as it is meant to be spoken with all the votthulu, deerghaalu, kraavaDulu and vaTrasuDulu the absolute essentials of the language, instead of cosomopolitzing it to cause a grating effect on the ears. Though the language used for most of the characters in the movie is (unfortunately) Hyderabadi telugu, which is a combination of Telugu, Hindi/Urdu and English to the point that it becomes a weird mix that is neither Telugu, Hindi/Urdu or English, Shekhar needs to be specially appreciated for bringing in Sunitha to verbalize the expressions, and translate the emotions of the lead character, that would otherwise have had a negative effect, had the role been dubbed by the regular, who sounds much worse than an elementary student with minimal exposure to the language.
In the late sixties and early seventies when Hollywood was moving away from the studio brand of film making, in which the films were treated as a product, nicely packaged, with all the great looking artists, speaking just the right lines with ample one-liners thrown in for good measure, into the more risky and adventurous fares, in which films were toned down to being more realistic reflecting the every day life, actors picked up not just for great looks alone, and writing that seemed less theatrical and dramatic, there occurred a difficult transition period from the former to the latter in adjusting to the new tone and the new format. A few decades later, in the present, emerged a system where brash commercial ventures co-exist with the personal and independent, and the so-called art features, in perfect harmony. Nagesh took that first step in that direction of personal cinema and backed his foray with a few more ventures. Shekhar deviated from the path a little bit and added his own spin to the format that respects the regular version on one hand, while being personal on the other. In the hope that the telugu filmdom would take a leaf or two from Hollywood, here is a worthy and a commendable venture, Anand, that is not just a "manchi coffee laanTi sinimaa", but also a "paatha ghanTasaala gramophone laanTi sinimaa".