'Vangaveeti', which RGV has refused to describe as a biopic, has hit the screens today. Here we tell you why it's unique:
As the title suggests, the film traces the rise of the Vangaveeti brothers and their eventual elimination.
Way back in the 1970s, Vangaveeti Radha (Sandeep) started off as a small-time rowdy called by people as Bus Stand Radha. When Venkata Ratnam (Vamsi Nakkanti), a local leader with Communist sympathies, humiliates him, Radha gets his comeuppance by brutally killing him. When one thinks there is no stopping him from rising in stature, party politics ends his era.
History presents his reluctant brother Ranga (Sandeep, again) with an opportunity to take the baton forward. The cult followers of the dead brother promise to make him into an unchallenged personality.
Only that the rise of the lieutenants, the Devineni brothers (Gandhi and Nehru), the smart student leaders, threaten Ranga's ascendancy.
There is no stopping the bloody feuds from spilling out of control as revenge killings re-write the history of Bejawada rowdyism again and again.
One fears that 'Vangaveeti' will go down as one of the most under-rated RGV movies ever. What is common between 'Killing Veerappan' and this film is that RGV was always prepared to make them with as much detailing as he possibly could. Having made 'Jungle' (the knowledge gained while making it was used for 'KV') and 'Shiva' ('Vangaveeti' benefits from that intimate knowledge which RGV gained before and during the making of his debut), he is no more that lazy RGV of 'Rowdy'.
In a scene, the way an influential member of a political party puts forward a case for issuing the party ticket to Ranga is excellent. Watch out for the supporters cheering for Ranga's candidacy, how an elder objects to it saying he can't allow the party of Gandhi, Nehru and Patel to become a haven for a rowdy like Ranga, and how Ranga asserts himself at this, followed by the montage song 'Vangaveeti.. Vangaveeti'. One of the best scenes in a long time.
The emotional churning that the Devinenis undergo after Gandhi's murder is visually good, although there hardly is a line that can be called clap-worthy.
In fact, RGV's obsession with the voice-over technique takes a toll on many potentially terrific scenes. While the montage song talks about the inevitability of death, is death by the sword inevitable? RGV is too passionate about the subject to maintain a healthy detachment from the catharsis of rowdyism.
Some of the seemingly trivial moments mirror RGV's genius. Sample this: at times, the rowdies are seen talking the language of superstition ('Anduke varshalu ekkuva padi varadalu vasthunnayi'), which they most probably did. The scene where Radha's followers wail because Venkat Ratnam humiliated their idol reeks of melodrama. It must have been deliberate: after all, that was the era of over-reaction in movies! Watch out for the BGM when that colossus whose alleged decision to put an end to the unending feuds changed the destiny of Bejawada's rowdyism: the BGM goes mythological here. Needless to say, for a reason.
In more than a few places, the language doesn't seem to make the cut. Were phrases like 'Thokkalo meeting' ('Pokiri'-style) used at all in everyday conversations back then?
One feels the passage of time is ignored deliberately and wrongly. The murders of Radha and Ranga were separated by 14 years, but where is that felt from the narration?
Since RGV talks mostly to the elites and their men while making films like this, he seems to think that it's not necessary to tell the audience what the common man perceives the events. How did the people of Bejawada perceive the bloody feuds?
The locations are incredibly authentic, the cinematography can be considered a first rate work, but the BGM is inconsistent in its delivery, thanks mainly to RGV's inexplicable love for that signature BGM.
Sandeep delivers an incredible performance right from the word go. He is surely a big asset, although the tone may not have many takers. Vamsee Chaganti of 'Happy Days' fame plays Devineni Murali so well. Kautilya (as Devineni Gandhi), Shritej (as Devineni Nehru) and Naina Gangualy as Ratna Kumari are endearing.
Writers Chaitanya Prasad and Radha Krishna deserve a pat on the back.
'Vangaveeti' is that rare RGV film which tastes delicious when the subtleties, detailing and the ambiance are enjoyed. The parts are greater than the whole. Some of RGV's obsessions do disappoint, but overall, it's a sincere piece.