January 25th, 2021
In today's nostalgia review, we will be talking about another all time classic and INDUSTRY HIT in Kalisundam Raa. Released 22 years ago on January 14th, 2000, the film starts Venkatesh and Simran in the lead roles with legendary director K Viswanath and veteran character actor Ranganath in crucial roles while also notably being the breakthrough film for actor Srihari who plays the villain. Directed by Uday Shankar, the film has music by SA Rajkumar, Art Direction by Ashok Koralath and Cinematography by K Ravindra Babu. Produced by Suresh Babu, on Venkatesh's home banner Suresh Productions, let's delve into what makes this film so good.
Manga (C.R. Vijayakumari) and Raghaviah (K Vishwanath) are approaching their 60th birthday and Mangamma longs to see her grandchildren one last time before her death. She requests Raghava to call their son's family to their house for the special occasion. Raghu (Venkatesh) is Raghaviah's grandson but he never shows Raghu the love and respect he deserves. Raghu falls in love with Manga (Simran) and learns that all is not well between Raghaviah and his brother in law Ram Mohan Rao (Ranganath). What is the enmity between? Why are the two families warring? Where does Srihari fit into all of this? All of these questions are answered in this epic family entertainer.
It's Venky mass all the way in this movie. Kalisundam Raa is basically a highlight of everything we love about Venkatesh and then some more. As Raghu he is amazing as always and reminds you why he's the king of family entertainers. Raghu as a character is someone with a heart of gold and is the typical Venky character we have come to know and love. You laugh, you cry, and you empathize with him as he makes all the sacrifices to keep everybody happy. He is ferocious in the action sequences, showcases his impeccable coming timing in all his scenes with Rallapalli and Simran, and makes you cry in all the emotional scenes. All in all, Venkatesh is flawless as always and proves why he's the most loved actor in Telugu cinema once again. His dances in the film are also extremely entertaining.
Simran as Manga is fantastic. Her acting in the pre climax and climax scenes really make you feel for her character and the love story with Venkatesh is charming to say the least. You root for them the entire movie. In the songs, she sets the screens on fire with her dance moves and her fabulous screen presence adds a lot of value to the entire movie. She is outstanding overall.
Veterans actors K Viswanath, C.R. Vijayakumari, and Ranganath are amazing in their respective roles and bring the necessary emotional weightage to the movie.
Srihari as the villain is chilling as the blood seeking nephew. You will hate his character and that's a testament to his incredible acting.
The film has many comedians but it's Rallapali who steals the show. His comic timing is on point and his witty humor makes you laugh in even the most serious of scenes. The dog comedy scene in the 2nd half with Venkatesh is a laugh riot as the two actors beautifully compliemnt each other in the hilarious scene.
Brahmanadham is entertaining as a priest and so is Ali as a man who lost his pet snake. AVS also makes his presence felt with a few brief jokes.
The film has a huge cast and everybody else does well. Uday Shankar has made sure that each and every scene is filled with actors and everybody gets some sort of screen time.
Direction by Uday Shankar is literally perfect. He has crafted the most flawless family entertainer you will ever see and Kalisundam Raa isn't a film, it's an emotion. Literally. If there is a reason the film holds up so well it's bevause of the emotional weightage in each and every scene. 22 years later, you will still find yourself getting tears in your eyes and that is a true testament of the direction. Be it action, comedy, romance, sentiment, conflict, drama, you name it, this movie has it. Uday Shankar's screenplay is once again absolutely perfect. At 165 minutes, there are no boring moments and the 1st half and 2nd half are equally as good as each other. Be it Venky's intro, the family scenes in the first half, the interval bang, post interval truth reveal, and the incredibly emotional pre climax and climax, each and every scene is directed to perfection. He also extracts a world class output from SA Rajkumar whose music is insanely catchy and remains his career best album to date. Every single song is amazing and the album is also an all time classic like the movie. With all of the commercial elements perfectly blended, Venky's presence is the icing on the cake making Kalisundam Raa a perfect family masterpiece.
Songs and BGM by SA Rajkumar is a MASTERPIECE. The BGM in the emotional scenes makes them hit even harder and all of the songs composed have gone onto to last the test of time. Should also add they're all perfectly placed in the movie. He is well supoorted by legendary lyricists in Veturi Sundarama Murthy garu (Kalisunte Kaladusukam & Manasu Manasu) and Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry garu (Nuvve Nuvve Antu Naa Pranam & Prema Prema) along with Chandrabose who wrote the other 3 songs in the film (Boom Boom, Pacific Lo, and Vachindi Palapitta). It also helps that he got many legendary singers and all of the superstar singers at the time in Udit Narayan, Shankar Mahadevan, SP Balasubramanyam, Rajesh, Anuradha Sriram, KS Chitra, and Swarnalatha. Any good film needs a good album and to be honest, the album is as good as the movie itself. All time classic.
Cinematography by K Ravindra Babu who would also go onto do another small film called Nuvvu Naaku Nachav (who am I kidding, another all time classic!!) is excellent. The movie is dipped in gorgeous colors and he effectively captures the village atmosphere with stunning accuracy.
Production Design by Ashok Koralath is amazing. The star designer who would go on to do Indra and Okkadu does an incredible job with all of the house sets, song sets, and the overall look and feel of the film. You are actually transported back to your native village and it brings back all the nostalgia.
Editing by Marthand K Venkatesh and K Madhav is perfect. There's no lag and the movie is scintillatingly entertaining. Fights by Kanal Kannan are well composed and very entertaining. There are 4 fights in the film overall. The first fight is stylish while the best fight is probably the climax fight for the emotion it carries and the high it gives you.
Production Values by Suresh Productions are extravagant. Kalisundam Raa is a visual feast from start to finish and all of the departments have done an incredible job in making a classic film.
The backstory for this film is quite simple. Venkatesh was the one of the top 4 actors in Telugu cinema at the time along with Chiranjeevi, Balakrishna, and Nagarjuna. As Chiranjeevi was gaining the entire audience, Balakrishna doing pure action movies, Nagarjuna shifting genres between love and action, there was nobody to film the void of family hero. Venkatesh swooped in and following classics like Preminchukundam Raa and Raja, he followed it up with arguably the best of them all in Kalisundam Raa.
The backstory for this review is also highly emotional. Being born in a Telugu household, this was the first Tleugu movie I ever saw in my life and my life hasn't been the same since. I can't help but cry when I watch it because it started my love for Telugu cinema and takes me back to the beginning of this incredible journey that's been following Telugu cinema since birth. Without this film, this website wouldn't exist, I probably wouldn't be this passionate about Tollywood, and my life would be completely different. So Kalisundam Raa will always have a special place in my heart.
There are many films that come and go but there are some films that are extremely influential and go onto set the precedent for films that come. If Preminchukundam Raa was the first Telugu faction love story between two warring families, Kalsundam Raa is the first family entertainer between two families. It set the precedent for all the family entertainers that would come in the future and most notably, it's mark can be seen all over Jr. NTR's Brindavanam.
It's a trendsetting film for a reason and it has all the elements that family entertainers needed to follow to be successful in the future. Hero is likable and has a heart of gold? Check. Heroine belongs to one of the other families? Check. Comedians that make you laugh? Check. Incredibly emotional sentiment scenes that will make you cry? Check. Adrenaline pumping fights? Check. Songs set in gorgeous locations and extravagant sets? Check. Village entertainer? Check. But the biggest one of them all. A conflict between two warring families and love finally wins over all? Check that box unlimited times. By checking all these boxes, Kalisundam Raa influenced all of the family entertainers in TFI since 2000 and remains an all time classic for a reason.
To analyze, the movie begins on an emotional note and the 1st half is amazing. The 2nd half is equally as good and the movie really hits your emotional chords during the last 30 minutes which is a roller coaster ride of emotions. It's very easy to see why the movie was an industry hit and remained that way until it was broken by Narasimha Naidu the following year.
Overall Kalisundam Raa is a trendsetting family entertainer. For having all the commercial elements balanced in the right proportions, the masterful direction, classic album, and Venkatesh make this film a masterpiece. You will laugh, you will cry and you will cheer for everybody in the film. It's a perfect family film that will stay with us for the rest of time. And once again without this movie, I would not be here. It will always be my first Telugu movie and one that I will never ever forget.
Signing off -
Teja Rao - Die hard Telugu Cinema fan.