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Some Ramblings - Manmadhudu
By Srinivas Kanchibhotla

Montage is often defined in movie terms, as a series of different elements joined together, while trying to make a point. For example, while in a song, the images of boy and a girl meeting at a park, acting in a friendly way, having a jolly time together laughing, sharing, and doing things together, would be interpreted as the two developing some sort a relationship. Now what if, an entire movie plays out as a montage LEADING up to the climax, than a plot that plays out in a justifiable manner ADDING up to the climax? With no emotional point to moot, with no logical point to peg, the movie just plays out as a series of vignettes, with the sole objective of making the end justify the means. It almost plays out like the Fibonacci series in math, wherein the value of any number in the series, in dependent upon the previous two numbers, nothing more, nothing less.

Abstracting a Telugu movie is as difficult as the predicting the fate of the same at the turnstiles. The reason being, telugu movies stick so much to the basics and fly so low below the intellectual radar, that it is more than often, an exercise in futility, trying to come up with an acceptable abstractive framework, to explain the movie. It is for the same reason, a Telugu movie becomes a series of plot points, with plot plodders and plot pushers sprinkled along the lines, trying to show the exorbitant price paying audience, nothing more than just a good time. To borrow the phrase, "just when I think I am out they pull me back right in" (Al Pacino, from Godfather 3), just when we thought, Trivikram made some progress in pushing the often banal Telugu characters to a higher, more meaningful strata with Nuvve Nuvve, he is pulled back again into the trite quagmire to script a movie like Manmadhudu.

In just the same way was he awarded and rewarded, amply and solely, for the successes of the movies Nuvve Kaavali, Nuvvu Naaku Naccav, Nuvve Nuvve etc, Trivikram alone should be blamed for this most insipid and uninspired script of his otherwise illustrious career till date. If subtle sentimentality is his forte, it was sorely missing; if sensible drama is a part of his strong suite, it was hugely lacking; if delightful insights into the characters is what he trademarked his trade with, it was largely wanting. It is often said, that it does not matter, what the movie is about; what matters is the journey that the audience is embarked upon; what matters is how the movie gets down doing its business, achieving what it intended to set out. It is for this same reason that movies as sensible as Sankarabhranam appeal to us, movies as outlandish as Jagadeka veerudu agrees with us, movies as ridiculous as Hello Brother appeases us.

MOULDING Hollywood themes to suit the nativity, which Trivikram seems to be adept at, when reduced to the act of just ADAPTING, sounds tired, jaded and lifeless. When, in such adaptations, are sprinkled the typical character observations, without actually propping the character up with enough meat, they sound out of place and distracting. And then there is this cause and effect dialogue sequence, that's usually one of the many disarming weapons in his quiver. Take the example of the hero trying to woo the second heroine to go on a drive with her. The way Trivikram sets the scene up, builds the scene with a little rejoinder on the coffee drinking habit, and cuts the scene abruptly without any satisfying pay off, is just one of the many quibbles, that one can pick on with the screenplay. The writer usually should be able to identify with a character, and support it with enough motivation to be able to justify his actions, in a well-rounded script. Be it Tarun's character in Nuvve Kaavali, or Venu's in Chirunavvuto or more recently Prakash Raj's in Nuvve Nuvve, the audience would be able to instantly identify with the character's actions, because of its valid motivation and logical justification of the same. Even in a ultra commercial movie like Nuvvu Naaku Naccav, Venkatesh's character, in spite of all the antics, does not seem to lose focus and right until the end, it does not sway away from its initial path.

Technical wizardry, no matter how dazzling and impressive, as is the case, can never be a substitute to the printed word. The team of Sameer Reddy, Devi Sri Prasad and Srikar Prasad tried to go pick up the ball, that Trivikram has dropped so early in the game, and tried to make some play out of it. An interesting point in Sameer Reddy's photography is the COOL shaking effect during the songs, wherein the images of the characters have a noticeable vibration with the background remaining absolutely still, which is similar to the ones photographed in David Fincher's Fight Club. Sirivennela's lyrics contributed his pen worth to salvage some respectability and his power of abstraction, even in as one-dimensional movie as Manmadhudu, speaks much of his prowess ("eDabaaTae baaTai naDavagaa"). Trivikram's framework - boy meets girl, boy/girl hates girl/boy, boy and girl go to different setting, they develop feelings, girl is engaged, boy broods, key event happens, boy gets after the girl, they unite - is fast losing its grip. It is time he pulled it by the strings and tightened it up.

Also read ramblings on Nuvve Nuvve

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This article is written by Srinivas Kanchibhotla
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