'Appatlo Okadundevadu' hits the screens today. Here is our review:
Railway Raju (Sri Vishnu) is a wannabe cricketer leading a humble life with his widowed mother. Girlfriend Nithya (Tanya Hope) and Vitthalshetty (Brahmaji) are his companions through thick and thin.
Imtiaz Ali (Nara Rohith) is a cop seething with rage; eliminating Naxals is his pet agenda. He nurtures hate against the extremists for causing the personal loss of his parents.
Spelling trouble in Raju's life is Imtiaz, who zeroes in on the dreamer in his attempt to nab Ahalya, the Raju's naxal-sister. Amidst all this, Raju's tiff with a petty gangster by name Bhagawan Das escalates out of control, giving Imtiaz a handle to ruin Raju.
The second half is all about how Raju ducks the system and challenges Imtiaz's statist violence through extra-legal means even as he unconsciously severs links with his dreams and loses himself.
Writer-director Saagar Chandra throws up a story that intersperses human drama with elements like sporting dreams and gangsterism. The journey of two contrasting personalities, namely Raju and Imtiaz, their coming-of-age stories pulled between passions and morals/predispositions - that's 'Appatlo Okadundevadu' for you.
The story sequencing is perhaps the biggest strength of 'AO'. The film keeps us guessing about what may or may not come next. Will the cop who stages encounters and believes that rule of law should look the other way while he wages "war" against Naxals, ever get a rap on the knuckles? How is the disgraced Raju going to bounce back? Will hope triumph over anarchy?
That's the soul of the saga of our Once Upon A Time Unsung Hero, who was dehumanized by the system, who reduced himself to a deviant, who remained an example of how the egos of the duty-minded can wreck havoc for a youngster who could have become a Dhoni!
The director (who has also penned the dialogues) enriches the screenplay with footnotes like these: A particular type of shot that Raju played under duress way back in 1993 came to be played by an international English cricketer 12 years later (as Brahmaji's character says, 'Asalu aa shot ki Railway Raju shot ani peru pettindalsindi').
The characterizations come with an aroma of their own. 'Moodu sixulu kodithe ne bowler meeda jali kaligedi naku. Ippudu ila ayyanu enti?' so goes Raju's line.
While the writing part is very good, constraints of budget seem to have extracted a price. The cinematography is under-developed. While the film could have been a stylish actioner, the action sequences are lazy. Suresh Bobbili's BGM is a major asset.
Sri Vishnu, who was recently seen in 'Jayammu Nischayammu Raa', is the film's forte. His dialogue delivery, nuances and expression are praiseworthy. Nara Rohit is yet another revelation, although his role in the second half is abridged. As a 'my way or highway' cop, he delivers his career best performance. Brahmaji comes to occupy greater importance in the second half, recounting the Raju saga to a girl from Kolkata. Tanya Hope looks good and seems to be a promising talent to watch out for.
Others like Ravi Varma (in the role of a naxalite), Prabhas Sreenu, Raj Madiraju, Srinivas Reddy, Rajeev Kanakala and Ajay do a good job.
'Appatlo Okadundevadu' is a human drama first and everything else next. A superb story line that has the potential to be a big-ticket Bollywood movie. Nice performances and story sequencing only help the matters.
Rating: 3.3 / 5.0