Monday, January 29, 2007
19.Anukokunda Oka Roju
Human memory works by association. No moment or event can persist in the memory map as an individual entity waiting to be recalled on a moment's notice. It is very interesting in the way the links that chain the events together go back years and years simply by association. Consequently, the memories that get stored over a long period of time are the ones that have their associations with the rest built quite strongly and the easily forgotten ones are those which have no relation with the memories around them and hence are too weak to form associations. It is for the same reason that one remembers well even into the older age a movie that had made quite an impression as a child but quite easily forgets a school book that he read around the same time. The other example to this association is a band of ants moving along a wall connected to one another in some invisible strong chain. Disturb one link and the whole motion falls apart for a little while until they find a way to reestablish their path and continue again. Now, what if, in an every day life of an every day person, few portions of the memory are erased and suddenly the entire world seems to be gunning for the person for whatever happened during the missing parts of the memory? How is one to fall back in the line, like those band of ants, desperately trying to establish the missing link and make out some meaning of the path and the progress, with those large gaping holes? Leaving alone the higher meaning of life and making sense of the every day events, if one's very mortal existence is dependent upon those lost links and the missing pieces, what would be the mental state of such a person suffering through the selective amnesia? The senses of confusion, dread and paranoia would grip the person to the core driving him to any end possible to reclaim whatever has been missing, whatever is truly his.
Yeleti selects this singularly important feature of human existence - memory - and weaves around a plausible set of events that lead to the point of losing it and the events that help reclaiming it back. It is quite engrossing when the audience knows about the suspense at exactly the same time as when the character learns about it and not a second before, not allowing it to second guess the events and the predict the outcome. A couple of years ago, Christopher Nolan's "Memento" used this same technique. When the lead character in "Memento" suffers short term memory loss (wherein, he can remember things that happened only a short while ago and completely forget all that has happened before), he tries to piece back his life and learn the motivations behind his actions, and the audience would be made aware of all the surprising twists and turns along with the lead character at the same time, manipulating the audience to be as much shocked by the turn of events as the lead character. It is really appreciative of Yeleti to do away with that one fateful night, right at the beginning of the movie and let the situations unfold one missing piece at a time for the rest of time, as the audience would be as much looking forward to knowing the reasons that transpired before the whole world came crashing down, as the character, instead of having the foreknowledge of them, much before the character. The important element of surprise and suspense that the whole plot pegs its existence on would certainly be lost in the latter case, and the entire tone of the movie shifts from being a suspenseful to being a regular chase movie. There is a certain gratification at the end, when the whole mystery is resolved, in tying back all the loose ends (and the clues) that are peppered along from the beginning, in trying to make good of all the abstract pieces which individually do not make any sense.
Gunnam Gangaraju's words are as much the lifeline of the script as Yeleti's screenplay. The successful combination of the suspense and comedy genres, which the Just Yellow banner seems to be quite an expert at, almost leads to believe that "anukOkunDaa" is more a comedy thriller than it is a suspenseful comedy. All the words coming out of real world situations, where the characters need not be extra smart or extra clever to deliver the right punch lines, but just be enough observant of the situations around them, make them a lot more believable and a lot more real. The everyday situations in apartment complexes, kids normal behavior when in groups (which Gangaraju seems to mastering with each outing from "Little Soldiers" to "aitae" to "anukOkunDaa..."), the usual travails of every day life in a cosmopolitan city, brought out so beautifully in Gangaraju's words, that one cannot but laugh, and laugh loud while at it, at the sharp observation skills of the writer in coming up with such scenarios. During the realistic comedic moments or during the little suspenseful segments interspersed by the great sequences of comedy, Gangaraju's pen is relentless in mining the comedy, regardless of which character occupies the current frame - old, child, hero, villain and even the henchmen, sane, insane and even the infants alike. Striking the right balance between the suspenseful action of the moment and finding the right joke in it, which does not cheapen the moment but instead lightens it, is such a potentially explosive situation of either the suspense going to be let down or the joke going to fall flat, that writers usually do not dare touch them. When Chandu is forcibly brought into the room by Nayar's henchmen, Nayar looks at the worried Satya and mockingly cries out "aayanaem alaanTi vaaru kaadu!!". Just the perfect line to relieve the tension in the room! After "kshaNa kshaNam", "anukOkunDaa.." stands as the worthy heir successor to successfully revive this comedy/thriller, comedy/suspense genres and entertain to the fullest.
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Probably after "Siva", no other movie had used Hyderabad's topography, with all the little crooked lanes, by-lanes and sub-lanes, to the fullest as "anukOkunDaa.." and no other movie has choreographed better chase sequences within these crooked lanes, as "anukOkunDaa.." almost rivaling Siva in the process. The great overhead view from the nearby tall buildings adjacent to all the action, the camera captures most of the action, without constant cutting and pasting together, that is usually a norm in such stunt sequences. The natural editing (Jagapati Babu's introduction scene, one among the many, bears a great testament to this), combined with great photographic setups, makes the action burst out of the screen. Keeravani's compositions, the regulars and the background scores, stand out as trendy, hip and definitely out of the normal. Here is a telugu movie, after a long long time, that completely defies the textbook definitions of typical commercial movie, while strictly remaining within the confines of commercial medium, that is interesting, engaging and entertaining, all at the same time. If Yeleti's "aitae" was a true homage for "Money", "anukOkunDaa..." pays a fitting tribute to "kshaNa kshaNam", with its taut screenplay, rib-tickling comedy and foot-tapping music, no to mention, realistic photography and fantastic editing. Another feather in the cap of Just Yellow!