Sunday May 30, 2010

Magadheera (Movie review), Telugu – SS Rajamouli

Posted by Karthik

I have this terrible habit of postponing to watch certain films…for no apparent reason. Magadheera was one of them and I saw it just last night, almost after an year of its release.

Now, I have read many reviews about the film – most were ecstatic and many were reasonably satisfied giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars on an average. I also noticed Allu Sirish’s tweets on the film’s box office collections recently and that was one of the reasons I forced myself to watch this movie finally.

I know the story and I was not impressed with the music, by M M Keeravani. So, I started the film on the wrong foot – but SS Rajamouli proved me wrong…completely. Magadheera is one of the most audacious attempts at making a Hollywood styled epic masala film and I have to say that the director has pulled it off spectacularly.

There is no point in complaining about logic, realism or even story. They are not the focus here. The focus is on 2 specific things – give a platform to showcase every possible aspect of Ram Charan Teja (after a largely tepid debut in Chirutha) and make a epic scale, larger-than-life film.

In the former, I’d say Charan has succeeded with a solid punch. He has fabulous screen presence and his charisma is very reminiscent of his dad and that is his greatest asset. He dances like a dream and the song sequences featuring his dances are a visual treat. Special kudos to the choreographers who have understood the requirement and treated him with eye-popping dance moves. Charan has also toiled really hard in many other departments, physically, most notably the scenes involving horses. His expressions are limited, but given his age, I’m sure he has a long way to go and learn – if we go by his pedigree, that may not be a difficult task.

Kajal Agarwal has a usual, chirpy role, but she adds super charm to even that routine role and also does brilliantly in the backstory. She’s effervescent all through and makes the fight over her seem worth every pain!

Srihari has a massy, crowd puller role and the man rocks with this presence. Dev Gill, the villain, has 2 roles in the film – lust after Kajal and sneer over all others on screen. And he does it all quite well.

The film’s real heroes are the cinematographer and art director. The grandeur mounted in this film is unmatched yet in Indian films. This is the scale and execution that was needed in other ambitious films like Kamal Hasan’s Dasavathaaram and Selvaraghavan’s Aayirathil Oruvan. But in those films the effects ended up looking largely plastic. No, the effects in Magadheera are far from perfect too, but this is the most polished I’ve personally seen in Indian films yet. There are scenes that look like oil painting, but that adds a surreal charm to the film, at times. The Udaigarh fort and the set piece for the climax battle with a giant Kalabhairava statue are brilliantly mounted and used.

Some of the camera angles are absolutely spellbinding – kudos to the cinematographer and director for the conceptualization.

I’ve seen many reviewers expressing disappointment with Keeravani’s music in the CD and adding that they look/sound better on screen. That is a complement to the film’s director and not Keeravani. I’m not entirely sure if the background music is by Keeravani, but it is surely a punchy asset to the film – it is stupendous. The songs are mighty disappointing even on screen, except the remix of the Gharana Mogudu song. The Charan-Kajal duet in the pre-interval story is bland and could have done with a catchy melody, while the item song featuring Kim Sharma, although wonderfully choreographed, required a massively punchy kuthu track to make an impact – in its current state, it is really tame, despite Daler’s enthusiastic rendition.

The final kudos is reserved for the director. There are nuanced masala additions in the film that make this film particularly memorable. For instance, the way it has been sequenced – it starts with a critical scene from the backstory, with the actual dialogs (the 1-100 counting) and goes on to reveal the shocking scene of Kajal and Charan falling off the cliff. Later, when the scene is seen in context, we see it afresh connecting with it all over again, despite having seen it fully once.

The 300 inspired scene between Srihari and Charan is another fantastically conceived creation – the topography of the area in which it is shot almost makes that amazing scene believable. More than that, the powerful dialogs between the two is solid and whips up the viewers’ passion brilliantly. Even the end credits title song is a phenomenal touch and forces one to sit through it in its entirety.

As I mentioned earlier, I was skeptical about yet another rebirth story, but was pleasantly disproved by Rajamouli. Magadheera is a landmark film when it comes to commercial potboilers in India. That makes it almost impossible to remake in other languages – it could sure look amazing with a Hrithik in Hindi or Surya in Tamil, but if we were to respect the efforts of Rajamouli who has mounted such an epic film, then we should perhaps merely dub it (with minor reshoots for the initial portions involving Sunil and others, to add limited nativity) in other languages and let the film be seen in its original splendour.

Hats off to the Allu clan for believing in this film and to Rajamouli, for pulling it off in incredible style.



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