Hyderabad: One associates Sekhar Kammula with the Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Basu Chatterjee paradigm of filmmaking. Choosing the middle path for survival is never easy in a world of excess. Yet, he has carved a space of his own. This time too, the signature grammar is in place as is the rural backdrop, the simplicity of storytelling, the endearing characters – not to mention picturesque locales. However, this time, he decides to sometimes go about with a sermon.
Given the treatment of exploitation of the Dalits, you would, from the cosy confines of urban life, believe that it is a tad dated. However, pay attention to happenings around you, and you would realise that class-caste prejudice is still deeply seeded in our system.
The boy-girl love story defying barriers is not new. Therefore, the challenge is to take the treatment to a different level and you would bet on Sekhar Kammula to do it. He nearly does. Surely in the context of Telugu cinema, this is a good film and worth watching.
The story takes us to Armoor where the protagonist Revanth (Naga Chaitanya) has suffered the predictable village Dalit divide, notwithstanding the backup of his fiery mother (Easwari Rao). In search of his dreams and not wanting to be a part of the feudal class-caste vertical in the town, he comes to the city and tries hard to establish a Zumba dance centre. It is in this neighbourhood that he meets Mouni (Sai Pallavi) and nurtures a warm feeling for her. With another small love story happening in the backdrop, he views a romantic link defying social norms as an avoidable challenge. Till it happens to him!
Mouni is in the city seeking to free herself from a domineering uncle Narasimha (Rajeev Kanakala). While it is initially the typical feudal representation, there are signs that there is more to it than meets the eye. Let’s stop the story narrative at this point in time and leave it to the readers’ curiosity to get the ticket and find out the goings on.
What is surely commendable is the sincerity that the cast brings to the narrative. Leading the pack is Sai Pallavi who seems to have a magical chemistry with the filmmaker. She wins you over within minutes of her entry into the film. Among the support cast, the likes of Easwari Rao, Uthej, Sachin Yadav, and Rajeev Kanakala warrant specific mention.
This could well be Naga Chaitanya at his best till date. Not only is the character well-etched, but he, too, gives it his best. However, both in the important scenes of revelation and realisation, he is found wanting in the department of dialogue delivery.
The editor (Marthand K Venkatesh) messes up with the end product. If only he were a tad severe with the canned shots, we would have had a shorter, brisker and more enduring narrative. Music (Pavan Ch) is an added attraction. While the choreography in ‘Evo Evo’ is top class, the fizz in ‘Winner Winner’ is worth appreciation. However, it is the ‘Saranga Dariya’ number that really wins you over with its folk-based rendition.
Sekhar Kammula gets ‘too preachy too often’ in the course of the film. While the first half is dreary and tiring, the latter is a tad too fast-paced. He sure could have balanced it better. The preachy tone notwithstanding, ‘Love Story’ has its moments. Some definitely coming from Naga Chaitanya and many in the wonderful chemistry between the lead pair.
The tale is as old as the hills. The treatment is not unique but given Sekhar Kammula’s measured manner of telling, this 165-minute outing is worth it.