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Aranya Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Friday, March 26, 2021 • Tamil ]
Aranya Review
Banner:
Eros International
Cast:
Rana Daggubati, Vishnu Vishal, Zoya Hussain, Shriya Pilgaonkar
Direction:
Prabu Solomon
Music:
Shantanu Moitra

'Aranya' hit the screens today (March 26). Here is our review of the latest box-office release.

Story:

Aranya (Rana Daggubati), who is the Forest Man of India, has been living in a jungle near Vizag for 50 years. When a real-estate company wants to build a township by clearing 500 acres of forest land, the future of elephants living in the forest is in jeopardy, as they will not have access to the sole water body.

At the behest of the ruthless Environment Minister (Anant Mahadevan), a long wall is built to carry out the construction activities smoothly. This is when Aranya has to somehow defeat the villains. But can he?

Analysis:

Writer-director Prabhu Solomon, whose 2012 film 'Kumki' showcased his knack for setting an emotional story against the backdrop of a forest, is back with yet another forest-based film. 'Aranya', set for the most part in a forest (shot widely in places as different as Kerala and Thailand), has been made in Tamil and Hindi as well. Rana Daggubati's consistently remarkable performance is the film's biggets USP.

The Telugu version under review features a host of non-Telugu actors - ranging from Anant Mahadevan to Vishnu Vishal, Zoya Hussain and Shriya Pilgaonkar. As such, it doesn't feel like a straight Telugu film despite the best efforts of the team to bring out a kosher product and authentic dialogue. To make the matters all the more contrived, the characterizations (barring that of the male lead) are old-school.

The staging of the story is fashioned after typical good-vs-evil movies. The Minister and the corporate honchos/employees speak a set of stock lines. When they are not speaking, they are seen doing regular things. At times, they allow a mahout (Vishnu Vishal's character feels like it ended abruptly) to drive the story in patches. Imagine a non-entity tearing up a court order because he is peeved that his one-sided love story would come to an end. It's like he is more determined and focused than those whose multi-million project is in danger of being dissolved.

There are Maoists whose only purpose in the film is to keep running (or firing). After watching the entire film, you are no better involved and emotionally invested in them than you were after watching the film's trailer. We know that Zoya Hussain is the sister of a Maoist and that's all.

A voice-over introduces the story to us in the beginning. At one point, we are given a power-point presentation of the upcoming township. The names of the elephants is literally written on the screen. There is a visual depiction of how earthquakes will ruin our habitats. Th kind of narration looks amateurish.

The film should have gone beyond the typical 'shout at the establishment' template. The forest-dwellers don't look real, much like several VFX-heavy frames. In a fight sequence involving a cop and Aranya, the former climbs a massive leafless-tree with as much ease as the latter. It doesn't look smart or even believable.

In a film that revels in binaries (for the brief time Aranya visits a city, we see him struggling to alight an over-crowded bus. It's as if the film is saying that the city life is full of such oddness), there is no place of nuance. Aranya's ideology is this: Politicians shouldn't do anything in the name of development. They have ruined things in the last 70 years. So, just don't do anything, the protagonist literally says. Kids are cute and love animals, while adults are ugly and love only themselves. The way the interval bang arrives and goes, it feels like a sentimental story rather than a forest-based adventure.

The emotional elephants receive some good screen time and it is praiseworthy effort. The climax, where some tension is created about what is in the mind of the elephants, makes for a good watch. The elephants resist as much as Aranya.

Shantanu Moitra's songs are brief, while the BGM (by Moitra and George Joseph) stands out for its quality. AR Ashok Kumar's cinematography and Resul Pookutty's sound design are nimble.

Verdict:

'Aranya' lacks a sense of thrilling story-telling. However, the performances and the technical departments make it a passable fare.

Rating: 2.25 / 5.0

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