Anaganaga O Dheerudu

Actors: Siddharth, Shruti Haasan, Lakshmi Manchu, Baby Harshita
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Rating: 3/5

Just a day before the day I watched this movie, I was furiously ranting how Telugu cinema is losing its charm for typecast content and delivery. You can read it here. I did enter the movie hall to watch “AOD”, rather skeptically. I knew all along that Disney was a stakeholder, and my hopes had been high, even though. Now, I am not going ballistic when I say AOD has pushed the envelope a considerable distance! The envelope had a message for me: to take down my post on the other blog, Tollywood had arrived! At a time when Bollywood is promising a visual extravaganza with a Ra.One, something Kollywood already fortified through an Edhiran, AOD stands tall as a beacon of hope for Tollywood’s decorous future.

AOD works within realms of a model Disney fairytale. A warrior, his lover, a (vulnerable) child with magical powers, and an evil witch all come together to tell a tale written by Choudekar Haricharan, replete with magic, action, mystery, drama. And how can I miss, the real star of the movie are some surprisingly cool visuals. Most of you can already picture the movie start-to-end, but suffice it to say that the impressive visuals need to be experienced to qualify, or to discuss. You’ve not seen it until you’ve seen it!

PERFORMANCES:
Siddharth as the blind Yodha seems to have tried really hard to fit the character. While he certainly displays his forte playing loverboy, he does fall short a bit in action sequences. His attire and body language doesn’t help him become macho on-screen. For a Disney adventure full of impossible stunts, how some or most of them were managed minus visual effects are anyone’s guess – ropes and such. He doesn’t look as lean; I suspect the metal armour may have had a role to play. Siddharth’s Telugu diction has been improving consistently and he does well with archaic Telugu with lengthy dialogue too. His best (after romance) is the subtlety with which he played blind. All in all, Yodha is certainly not the center of attention of AOD. Shruti Haasan as the damsel in distress has had little to contribute from a story-momentum perspective. Armed with many seductive glances, Priya is conceived with many nuances of romancing Yodha mostly, gradually moving to the sidelines. While her dancing ability is commendable, her discomfort facing the camera (directly) is clearly visible

Lakshmi Manchu as evil Irendri is the surprise package of AOD. With little experience in front of the camera (India and abroad), Lakshmi as Irendri is perfect to the T. Quite possibly due to Irendri’s character being etched so well or simply owing to Lakshmi’s talents, the two are inseparable. The eccentricities of an evil character, a full spectrum of emotions – happiness, sadness, wickedness, arrogance, anger are in full view during Irendri’s screentime. Baby Harshita as Moksha forms the centerpiece of AOD keeping all story-elements together at all time. Moksha’s attire or characterization is very ordinary, and Baby Harshita’s performance does not stand out. But more importantly, Harshita’s confidence in front of the camera is worth noticing. 

DIRECTION, SCREENPLAY, CINEMATOGRAPHY & VISUAL EFFECTS:
With Director Prakash Rao in tow, AOD caters to a wide audience base (young, old, urban, mass, and families too). Maintaining the feel of a magnum opus from Disney, a tale of adventure backed by musical grandeur and superlative graphics may just match most of your expectations. The story has few unwanted contours, possibly to showcase graphical expertise, but nothing over the top to bore you out. With not many loopholes to plug (given the nature of the plot and everything goes), the treatment has been grand for the most part except that the focus was much on graphics than building strong characterizations (except Irendri’s).  Screenplay, also by Prakash too must have been a challenge, since there was an added element of visual effects to enhance each frame; decisions like using good imagery versus eye-popping images, etc. Prakash’s imagination of delicate details is just one form of testament to his creative talents. If I were to have it my way for Prakash do just one thing better, it’s the climax. Will let you watch and agree. 

Cinematography 
by Soundar Rajan. The camera angles were particularly important for AOD, be it indoors or outdoors, a beach or a forest, a mountain or fort, a large durbar set or an intimate bedroom – the visuals have a lot of detail, many, many design patterns, effigies, piquant colours, and most importantly, expressions (esp of Lakshmi Manchu). The outdoor locales have a vanilla feel in comparison with indoor sets, etc which could have been improved. Visual effects have been done by an award-winning studio, Firefly, with a repertoire of great work behind them. Serpentine-themed thrill sequences, weird-looking flying creatures, stunts, magic and much more. Woven intricately using detailed graphic designs, artsy sets, ethic clothing, and more importantly good make-up, this section is easily the star of this film, without which a concept like AOD could not be pulled off.

ALBUM MUSIC & BACKGROUND SCORE:

M. M. Keeravani
Salim-SulaimanKotiMickey J Meyer have provided a harmonic support just as grandiose as the movie itself. A couple of romantic numbers lead the pack with the theme music underscoring most of the movie. The background score and the theme by Salim – Sulaiman is really a treat and helps solidify the mood and intent of every scene. Just like in other Disney movies, whether walking through a cave escaping from the enemies, a mischief being played, Yodha trying to charm Deepa, or an evil Irendri plotting her next wicked move, Salim – Sulaiman’s soundtrack only make our perception richer, almost making you witness the happenings for real. 

Why 3/5: 
Plusses: Great visual effects, background musical score, album music, good performances, cinematography and art direction, Siddharth’s charming ways, and Lakshmi Manchu’s performance.
Negatives: Crests and troughs in the quality of visuals (inconsistency), poor characterizations (look and feel, depth), story momentum, Siddharth doesn’t fully qualify as an action hero.
All in all, AOD is a fairytale that has been told a zillion times, yet gets you glued simply because of the nitty-gritty if not the grandeur.
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  • "What is this..movie reviews and all? Chaa!! Do you ever think outside films?" - if this is exactly what you are itching to ask, may I interest you in my other blog Sandeepish?
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