Rating: 5.5/10 (Trivikram's Most Divisive Film)
Cast: Jr. NTR, Pooja Hedge, Jagapathi Babu, Naveen Chandhra, Sunil, Naresh, Rao Ramesh, Eesha Rebba, Srinivas Reddy, Devayani, Eeswari Rao, Naga Babu, Ravi Prakash, Brahmaji, Shatru
Story-Screenplay-Dialogues-Direction: Trivikram Srinivas
Producer: Suryadevara Radhakrishna (Chinnababu)
Banner: Haarika & Hassine Creations
The much awaited big ticket film of the 2nd half of 2018 is here. Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava marks the first collaboration between Trivikram and Jr. NTR and naturally expectations are high on the film. Can the duo deliver a film that has the chance to rewrite the Non-Baahubali record books? Let's find out in this week's review.
Plot: An unfortunate incident on the way back to his village causes Veera Raghava (Jr. NTR) to reconsider his path of life and wants to bring peace to the faction and war torn lands of Rayalaseema. How he goes about that and tries to implement it forms the rest of Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava.
Performances: Jr. NTR is phenomenal as usual. This is easily one of the best performances in his career. The characterization of Raghava is fabulously written by Trivikram because it balances the emotions of rage, empathy, and compassion that Raghava goes through in the movie so perfectly. And the brilliance of Raghava compared to hyper-active roles of Aadi and Simhadri is that this faction character is very subdued and subtle but a ferocious killing machine when triggered. NTR is just outstanding in the lead role and he performs a few dance steps in Anaganaganaga and Reddy Ikkada Soodu.
Pooja Hedge is very good as the heroine and gets a decent part to play in the story. She looks absolutely stunning and her own dubbing sounds authentic. Since Athadu, this is probably the only time Trivikram has made the heroine likable and not a complete idiot like in most of his movies.
A special mention needs to be made for Jagapathi Babu. The impact this man has a villain is truly a boon to the Telugu film industry. After making no impact as a hero early in his career, the transition from hero to villain from Jagapathi Babu since Legend has just been incredible and astounding. He is terrifying as the villain Basi Reddy and the voice and modulation he uses to get the character right just speaks volumes of his talent. Along with Jr. NTR, he carries the film with his performance and is flawless. This is arguably his career best performance as well, maybe even better than his role as the President in Rangasthalam.
Naveen Chandra gets an important role and does full justice and holds his ground in a confrontation scene with NTR well. Hopefully there's to more to come from him in the coming films. Eesha Rebba is wasted as the heroines sister but looks her glamorous best.
It's nice to see Sunil back in a sidekick role as Neelambari but the classic Sunil touch is missing as his jokes miss the mark most of the time. There is one scene that brings back the once famous comedian's talent but it too short lived.
Naresh, Srinivas Reddy, and Chammak Chandra provide some comedic relief but the aaku thinu, poka thinu comedy is awful by that one guy who plays a goon. Rao Ramesh is fabulous as usual
Eeswari Rao, Devayani, Hariteja, and Naga Babu are all very adequate with Eeswari Rao making an impact in a scene towards the climax.
Lastly, Brahmaji is excellent in two crucial scenes and once again showcases why he's one of the most loved and popular character artists in Telugu.
Direction: After the torture that was Agnyathaavasi, Trivikram was heavily criticized for his insipid direction and offensive comedy. There's no doubt that Aravinda Sametha is a much better film than Agnythaavasi, I mean realistically speaking any average film is better than that. But for a director of Trivikram's talent and caliber, this film seems more like it's a personal vendetta for him to make a point that he can still make a film with it's head in the right direction. Aravinda Sametha is a complete genre shift for Trivikram. He picks up a subject that he's never handled before and makes it very philosophical and conversation heavy that it almost feels like we're watching a new director who's shedding his trademark image for something else. In Agnythaavasi, the film had a story but it was criminally executed. In Aravinda Sametha, Trivikram makes it a point to stick to the core story and give little importance to the entertainment portion of the movie. Aravinda Sametha has a very serious tone throughout so if you are expecting trademark Trivikram entertainment in this film, you're bound to get disappointed. The romantic portions bring that nostalgic and trademark feelings back but it's all too short lived. Trivikram has played it safe and chosen an age old story and given it his treatment in his own philosophical style and the it's same philosophy that Koratala Siva had in Mirchi. In the end, the film ends up being confusing or mysterious because Raghava claims he wants to bring peace to his lands but the methods he uses and lastly his whole ideology of achieving that goal is really never explained or not explained clearly. Thus by the time the film ends, you wonder what Raghava's goal really was and a bit unsure as to how he achieved it because the climax didn't really give you that answer in my opinion. The meetings, peaceful talks, and attempts at convincing his rivals all seemed unconvincing to me. The difference is that in Mirchi, Jai's motive was clearly established but in Aravinda Sametha, Raghava's motive is somewhat unclear. Overall, Aravinda Sametha is a return to form for Trivikram as he has written some excellent dialogues and handled some mass portions very well but the ideology or philosophy in the end doesn't really get translated in my opinion.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by Thaman is outstanding. However, the much hyped Peniviti song should have been a full montage song and not feature the contemporary set up featuring NTR and Eesha Rebba and the slow sad steps should have been done away with. The song is brutally picturized on screen despite having such a powerful impact on the audio. Cinematography by PS Vinod is extravagant. He has captured the rustic and raw locales of Rayalaseema beautifully and the romantic portions in Hyderabad look very rich and grand as well. Dialogues by Trivikram are excellent. There are loads of philosophical and hard hitting dialogues in this film compared to his other films in the past. Choreography is very good for Anaganaganaga and Reddy Ikkada Soodu. Art by AS Prakash is phenomenal as usual. Editing by Navin Nooli is questionable. The film is too long at 167 minutes and some scene definitely could have been edited out to make the film have a more natural flow. Fights by Ram-Lakshman are good. The opening fight is the probably the pick of the lot. Special mention to NTR's stylist as this is probably the best he's looked on screen in his entire career. Production Values by Haarika and Hassine Creations are magnificent. The money spent on the film is visible throughout in each and every frame.
+ Jr. NTR and Jagapathi Babu
- Unclear Message
Analysis and Final Take: Throughout the late 90's and early 2000's, faction films were the new trend in Telugu movies. Bit sooner or later, Srinu Vaitla arrived and the emergence of the Baasha template put the genre to rest for a good period of time. It wasn't until Mirchi in 2013 that interest was renewed in the genre and Koratala Siva took his take on it. Now after the biggest disaster in Telugu cinema history, Trivikram attempts to make his own take on the exhausted genre.
First off, Aravinda Sametha does not feel like a Trivikram film. This is the first time the ace director has stepped out of his comfort zone and attempted a full on action film with factionism being the backdrop. It reminds one of Sukumar, a director who is known for his brilliance in filmmaking who went back to the drawing boards and changed gears from class to mass and delivered the classic that is Rangasthalam today. There is nothing wrong with changing gears but the fact that talented director's are choosing to play it safe rather than exploring new ideas and stories is a bit off a turn off.
The film starts off in a stunning way with a breathtaking action sequence in the rustic locales of Rayalaseema but the sequence is drenched in blood and gore and reminds you of old B.Gopal and Boyapati Srinu type violence. The film then moves to the romantic portions where Pooja Hegde gets to shine and it provides relief in an otherwise overly serious film. There are perhaps 3 scenes that stand out in the film. The opening scene, the office warning scene, and the confrontation scene between Tarak and Naveen Chandra. These 3 mass portions are handled extremely well by Trivikram. And the dialogues in the office warning scene are outstanding. The pen of Trivikram and his Maatalu Mantrikudu mantra are in full form here. And throughout the film in general.
However the biggest negative is the story itself. It is so old and there's really nothing you can do with it. To be brutally honest, Koratala Siva's take in Mirchi was probably the last thing you could have done with the faction genre and it's already run it course. I'm not going to say Aravinda Sametha is Mirchi but the two films do have an uncanny resemblance and it's ironic that the director's of both respective films took up the same point yet one works and the other doesn't quite translate as clearly.
Jr. NTR and Jagapathi Babu are outstanding in their roles and carry the film. Despite the length, the film never makes you feel bored at any point and it's nowhere near as bad as the rod that was Agnythaavasi. There is also not zero emotional connect for the characters so it might be hard for the audience to sympathize with them. And there is also nothing for the common audience to look forward to as the film is serious and high on violence.
Despite all of its positives, the ideology and maybe philosophical nature of the film will perhaps confuse the audience as it's never fully explained how it's achieved. And given Raghava's methods throughout the movie, you kind of question what the point is in the first place.
And I repeat do not look for entertainment in a serious film like this because first off there is barely any scope for anything and secondly you shouldn't expect to laugh in a serious film and accept the nature of the film you are watching.
Overall, Aravinda Sametha is the most divisive Trivikram film ever made. To be honest, the film seems more tailor made for fans than the common audience and that could be it's biggest undoing. Despite amazing performances from Jr. NTR and Jagapathi Babu, well written dialogues and some well handled mass portions, this a film you will either like or mostly likely be disappointed with due to the age old story and ambiguous ideology of the protagonist.