The ongoing draught of movies that can be remembered even 5 years later can be attributed to the deterioration of the industry from art for art's sake to art for money's sake. Telugammayi is yet another movie that comes undone with this shift in priorities.
It was to be a film that exhorts women to stand up and fight back against sexually obsessed men. The day was proceeding well in the concepts room, when commercial aspects knocked the door, and sensibility then jumped out the window.
From the title, you suspect that the movie may be concerned with AP's colorful culture, what with posters advertising a heavily decked up Saloni. The wholly Telugu opening credits reinforce that expectation. A couple of minutes into the film, you are convinced that you are watching a social drama. Half an hour later, however, you give up guessing, as your brain furiously churns to figure out why.
Balatripura Sundari (Saloni) is dressed for a wedding - a heavily-embroidered half-sari, 2 dozen bangles on each hand, the whole deal - when travelling by train from Hyderabad to Anakapalle. Siva, Shankar, Munna and Chinna are a group of friends whose sole ambition in life is to land hot girlfriends. Some banal perverted one-liners are all that they have to offer in competition to the uninterrupted flow of Sundari's animated chatter.
Meanwhile, Kalidas (Shafi) is a psychopath who rapes and then slits the throat of any woman who is unfortunate enough to catch his eye. He joins the little train party, only to be a spoil-sport and rub everyone the wrong way. The 4 youngsters do not take kindly to his maniacal behavior, and decide to murder him. Or so you believe, till a predictable twist sheds light on a completely different angle.
The first half of the movie has little to offer, though it establishes Saloni as a woman who can flex her facial muscles to her advantage. The pretty lady performs well, but her voice-over is distracting since the pitch of the voice does not complement the actor. The 4 youngsters are forgettable, as is the flimsy comedy track involving M S Narayana, Venu Madhav, Geeta Singh, Jhansi and Kondavalasa.
The second half of the movie is an improvement over the first, and this is where film finally gets down to addressing the issue at hand. A story of an innocent girl being raped and killed by a dangerous convict, the gaping loopholes in IPC that allow culprits to walk free, and the ever-prevalent corruption in governmental circles, comprise a flashback that explains Sundari's presence in the film in the first place.
The scramble to pepper some masala into Telugammayi to make it all "commercial" is what leads to its downfall. Focusing on the concept at hand, i.e., women's issues, would at least have won some critical appreciation for the movie.
Even otherwise, the script has more holes than fermented cheese. The rapist is shown to escape suspicion for his crimes by wearing surgical gloves on his hands. Hasn't the investigating team heard of semen testing?
Also why is Geethika (known for her obnoxious stint in the reality dance show Aata) wearing a night-dress when she is supposed to be have left a singing competition late in the night? Why were the 4 young men given characteristic traits when they are of no consequence to the movie?
Sai Kumar plays the role that immortalized him in Tollywood - that of a police officer. Don't get your hopes up: he does not have any revolutionary dialogues that can be rendered with a flourish, and does not add any substance to the film.
The songs are the better part of the film, and Enninallura can, in fact, be considered the summary of the movie. You would do well to Google this song and wait for Telugammayi to hit the small screen.