This is my first post on a movie.  An Indian language movie and people tell me that I am a English/Hollywood movie guy. So that by itself speaks a lot about this movie :).

Very few movies that I saw…
a) stayed with me long after I stepped out of the theatre or switched off my TV or Laptop and made me go back and research or read about them them. Star Wars is the movie that comes to my mind which is so true to the statement I just made. When episodes 1-3 came out, I researched this movie with vengeance. There was a time, when I knew what the atmosphere of the various planets consisted of!
b) made me respect the movie director for their passion. Lord of the Rings is a movie that fits this bill. Peter Jackson’s trilogy, made me read the book. What made me respect him, is the fact that he spent eight years – from start to finish – on these movies.

The movie, Godavari, did both. there was something in the story and the way it was told. I felt  the passion of the director. The movie not only stayed with me but also made me read more about the director and see his first three movies (Dollar Dreams, Anand, Godavari), multiple times, in less than a week. Long back, Alaypayuthe was another movie that evoked similar reactions. I fell in love with tamil watching that movie and I think non-telugu guys would fall for telugu with this one.

Most of my thoughts below, borrow from opinions of other people I found on the net. First the credits…

Now the movie…

Godavari is a film about Ram & Sita and the river that brings them together. A love story set in the scenic backdrop of the Godavari river. Ram thinks he is in love with his maradalu Raji but not sure. Raji’s parents think that their daughter needs some one better and decide to marry her off to a IPS officer and the venue is set  at Bhadrachalam. A heartbroken but realistic Ram is forced to join in the trip from Rajamundry to Bhadrachalam. Sita, a wannabe entrepreneur, is pained by her going-nowhere business and parental pressure to marry. So, she decides to take a tourist trip on a boat from  Rajamundry to Bhadrachalam. Ram and Sita meet on the boat Godavari and rest of the story is about how they fall for each other.

What brings this simple story to life, is the wonderful characterization, dialogues and  screenplay. Scenic cinematography, good acting, great lyrics and melodious music make Godavari a winner.

Some one told me Amish Tripathi wrote most of his two books in excel. I think, it is as true for Shekhar Kammula as well. First think about the main story plot between the hero & heroine.  Think about the nature of the main characters, then write in the scenes to elaborate each character, ideally combine multiple character scenes together. Create other characters to take the narration forward and then add sub-plots to strengthen these characters. Add in scenes that progress the stories and bring them all to a nice conclusion (read the postmortem link to know how Shekhar thinks).

Sample this…

Heroine: Sita

  • Independent thinking: intro scene
  • Tremendous inner strength: botique scene, biz man & eve teasing scenes

Hero: Ram

  • Idealistic: party office intro
  • Wants to serve people: carrying a pregnant woman who needs help;
  • Heroism: saving the faction leader
  • a little manipulative: appointments with party officials; not coming on time to dissuade Raji from marrying him.

Raji

  • Confused soul: scene where she is confused on which sweet to eat for dinner (took me some time to get this); rethinking eloping and marrying
  • Materialism and pampered: Coffee shop

Raji’s fiancé

  • Slightly negative: Baloon / Red shirt scene

Just watch the Manasa Gelupu song that does a lot of this beautifully.

Now, Plot enhancers:

  • Getting the protagonists together: Chips scene;Getting scolded by cook
  • Create a rift between lead pair: scene at Bhadrachalam
  • Explaining thoughts: Treasure hunt scenes

Sometimes, Shekhar Kammula, goes overboard with the characterization. Every character is detailed out (see the Director’s cut of Anand to understand what I am saying), so much so that some scenes might be un-necessary (parrot-fortune teller &  leader plots).

I also think Shekhar improved a lot post his second movie Anand, in story telling and the way he framed the scenes. Narrating the heroins’ thoughts thru her inner voice is an inspired choice. It not only overcomes the lip sync issues in dubbing – that he has been criticized for in his earlier movies – but moves the story along quite nicely by explaining a lot of things. The VO artist has done a tremendous job no only in the dubbing but the andamgalena song.

What I also like about the movie…

  • The characters can be identified in our daily life which makes the movie endearing.
  • Dialogues – Watch the scene where the heroine fights with her dad. I simply love the one line scold that the herione gets when she tells about a guy to her mom over the phone.
  • Subtle ode (to his inspirations??) – Chiru (third movie after Dollar Dreams and Anand to have a mention of this actor) and the movie Titanic.
  • And finally the women is traditional wear – saree’s  (couldn’t help but laugh when a reviewer says, “is that a penchant or plain fetish?”. Just watch the Anand movie intro)

What I don’t like…

  • Neetu Chandra as Raji. While a lot of people have praised her, I am completely put off by her lack of acting skills. The good dubbing for the heroine (Kamalinee Mukherjee – Sunitha) is negated by the bad dubbing for this one.
  • Mixing of sound: The background score screeches at times (but this again can be due to watching it on Laptop & YouTube).
  • Picturization of song andamgalena. So much is said in the lyrics by Veturi and it has melodious music and singing. Everything is lost by adding a dance to that.
  • 2 subplots – one about the parrot and fortune teller and the other with the dog. Both can be completely removed and shave off 10 minutes at least from the running length.

Finally, my rating. I won’t give stars in the traditional way in the movies I review, but say – watch or don’t watch. For this movie, I will just say, click the play button below and enjoy!


(Full HD & Subtitled; Courtesy Telugu One)

Before I end, two things that are on top of my mind…

  • Shekhar Kammula, is a wonderful story teller but has a very templated way of telling stories (middle class values, Mom-Daughter relationships, wanting to do-good hero, strong female characters, mandatory situations & songs – eg., Rain songs, too much detailing & linear story telling). He needs to watch himself on this template way of movie making. There is only so much inspiration he can have and only so much loyalty viewers have.
  • South Indian film makers are still experimenting and making movies that we have grown to love. Bollywood movies are in a very sorry state in terms of stories which have become too hero driven and movie makers are running out of ideas chasing profits. So, Bollywood’s aging and near retirement heroes are indulging themselves in tacky remakes of South movies. Watch the difference in treatment of romance – AlaipayutheSaathia & Action PokiriWanted ; VikramarkuduRowdy Rathod to understand what I am talking about.