It is rare to see a genuine movie these days. Rarer still if its being made in Telugu. I thoroughly enjoy the commercial fare of tollywood. The humor is usually top notch and that more or less salvages the movie. Of late though some really good films are being made out here and full credit to the younger breed of actors who are not afraid to defy the demi-god status that is thrust on them by some really senseless fans. It is good to see the Mega Stars and the Yuva Ratnas/Samrats take a backseat because it is giving new age directors and producers the opportunity to make films that do not take the audience for a ride. We still have some really crappy movies hanging around in cinemas, but we also have options now. Which is a very good sign for Telugu cinema because we have always had phenomenal talent. Just not enough courage to make movies with conviction.
Vedam is a remarkable effort. It is not a perfect movie; and there have been better movies made in recent times in Telugu, but none with the same amount of sincerity. First and foremost, a movie should entertain its viewers – irrespective of the genre. Secondly,just because a movie deals with ‘social issues’ does not automatically qualify it to be termed better than movies that were perhaps more entertaining but dealt with non serious themes. Having said that Vedam is both entertaining and eye-opening.
There are five parallel story lines, each dealing with individual themes. Allu Arjun plays the extremely likable Cable Raju who dreams of becoming rich and getting a better life than the one he has living in a slum. Manchu Manoj is an aspiring rock star/musician who has chosen a career path that is against his mother’s wishes. Anushka is a prostitute who hates the fact that she gets paid very less money for the work she does and wants to start her own company – still dealing with prostitution. Manoj Bajpai plays a muslim dealing with the loss of his unborn twins and religious profiling that drives him to extreme levels of frustration. Then there is a poor weaver family who want to educate their young son but are deep in debt. All the story lines are well conceived and performed. Allu Arjun has always been a high energy performer and he does a remarkable job with his character making him extremely believable. Manoj was in my opinion a total revelation. I never liked him. At all. But, he was almost flawless in this performance. Very natural and again, believable. Credit to the dialogue writers too for giving the actor very natural lines. I had a problem with Anushka’s story line because it seemed like they were forcing situations on her. She could have done so many things differently but her choices are never clearly explained. Having said that, Anushka performs well. Her makeup and costumes are spot on but I still feel she could have done better. But kudos to her for taking up a character like this. Manoj Bajpai is good. I felt he could have underplayed his character in some scenes. One does not have to always shout to let the audiences know that one is in pain. Still, he does well. I do not know the actors of the last storyline and I think that is what makes it the most moving part of the movie. Their desperation drives them to extreme lengths, but what is so great is that they go to those lengths with the sole purpose of educating their child. I am usually equipped with tissues when I watch a movie because crying comes very naturally to me :). Their storyline made me cry. I genuinely felt the pain of the weaver family and credit to the director for capturing such a profoundly moving situation.
Now at some point all these story lines converge. Here is where I had a problem. I did not find that convergence point very believable. The whole terrorist angle seemed forced. The director had already dealt with numerous themes in the movie like greed,religious tensions,karma etc. He also included several real life incidents into it. There was no necessity to make the last minutes of the movie as dramatic as they eventually turned out since the rest of the movie was so real. It was jarring. But, I guess majority of people may not have a problem with even that since it made for interesting viewing. It was refreshing to see a real ending where the protagonists meet with a fate that is humanly possible (a note to directors who make actors look like superheroes by showing how they walk unscathed even through fire).
The last scene of the movie will bring a smile to your face and that is all you can hope for when you walk out.
The movie is introspective, informative, entertaining and above all very very real. Definite watch for people who understand Telugu. Even if you don’t, try to get hold of a print of this movie and watch it with subtitles.
Best Scene: The scene where Cable Raju tries to steal money from the poor weaver. I turned into a puddle of tears in this scene.
Best Performer: As much as I like Allu Arjun for being a risk taker and for portraying characters that are grey, I feel Manchu Manoj was brilliant. He did not overact or underplay. He was just great in almost all scenes. And I do not even like him!