'Fidaa', riding high on brand Kammula, hits the screens today. Here is our review of the coming-of-age rom-com.
Varun (Varun Tej) is a student of medicine in US. He convinces his brother (played by Raja, lyricist Sirivennela's son) to get married.
Bhanumathi (Sai Pallavi) is the bride's self-styled, father-loving, agriculture-loving sister. She is fiercely independent and falls in love with Varun, who respects a woman's choices as much as he is clean-minded.
The smooth relationship goes haywire when Bhanumathi assumes that Varun is seeing his 'maradalu'. What follows next are more and more conversations between the key players, culminating in a happily-ever-after.
For those of you who can't take your eyes off Sai Pallavi, 'Fidaa' is easily the best rom-com in a long time. For those of you who like conversational love stories between two mature individuals (it seems the only other director who makes such movies is Gautham Menon), this Kammula movie is the best since the days of 'Happy Days'.
Mild conversations, healthy humour, the Emotional Lite, charming dialogues between good-natured individuals, and, of course, jaunty (if not always soulful) music - these are the essential features of the Great Kammula Ecosystem. 'Fidaa' is all about these.
Kammula's characters may be generally high-thinking individuals (if not absolutely, at least relatively), but they are also human. When Varun is rejected, he boasts of his status, even forgetting that he is belittling the world Bhanumathi holds very close to her heart. Bhanumathi, for her part, doesn't seem to take the slighting too emotionally, perhaps because she is mature enough to see the fact that it's she who started it all (by WhatsApping a pic of her slipper in return for Varun's 'I love you'!).
Respecting the girl's choice is an article of faith to the hero, someone very rare to find in the landscape of Telugu cinema. The heroine's adamance is a motif the director proudly presents. 'Nee kante better odni Maggi chesinantha easy ga pelli cheskunte', Sai Pallavi says, throwing up a challenge.
Notice how Varun behaves with Bhanumathi after his love gets rejected. He doesn't play pranks and derive satisfaction out of her hilarious plight like most Telugu filmi heroes are known to do. He doesn't slap her like a low-brow Tamil hero. He takes her through his house, and suddenly and hesitantly, when she least expects, asks her for the gift she bought for him. Making it a new-age family entertainer is the vadina-maridi bonding as well. That's Kammula for you.
In the first half, set in in a green Telangana village, the film thankfully refuses to get into village tourism mode (unlike a 'Shatamanam Bhavati'). The heroine continues to take potshots at the Western lifestyle, probably the only cliche 'Fidaa' couldn't avoid.
The songs are seamlessly woven into the narration. Vachinde song takes off amidst the heroine using colloquial like 'Nee ayya'. 'Hey Pillagaada' takes the cake. Sai Pallavi is brilliant in the number.
Sai Pallavi's expressions, dialect, lip sync and body language are authentic. The costumes, the subtly deglam look in some scenes, the hairdo all go a long way in making her look all the more special.
Varun Tej comes into his own in the second half. His performance in the scene where he vents out his frustration, shouting at Bhanumathi is superb. It's to his credit that he chose to do a film that breaks away from conventions. If Ram Charan had hard luck with 'Orange', this Mega hero shouldn't have any regrets.
The newbie who played the heroine's sister, and Sai Chand as the girl's father pass muster. Tharun Bhascker's mother (as the heroine's grandma) evolves from being uninvolved to someone who tickles the funny bone. Sathyam Rajesh revs up comedy quotient in the second half.
Shashikanth's songs are lilting. JB's BGM complements the largely feel-good ambiance. The cinematography elevates the Fidaa-fying experience.
Sans melodrama, 'Fidaa' gets it going. The inflection point may not be novel, but the narration makes the difference. Kammula's trademark elements bring the 'happy days' back.