In Krish's sepia-tinted world, the rich have it easy. The right-wingers have it easy. The money-extorting goons have it easy. The kidney-selling middlemen have it easy. The exploited, on the other hand, have sensitivity, sarcasm and a sense of humour. And one hell of a writer.
So, Vedam. Where thumbing your nose at the shallowness of the wealthy feels classy
. Indeed, Vedam runs the risk of being termed too leftist for commercial taste, if only it didn't get so many things right.
The plot traces several threads that all converge in the city of Hyderabad. Cable Raju (Allu Arjun) is a cable operator who lives a wretched life in Jubilee Hills slum, and whose "love" lies right across the drain, in the real, moneyed, Jubilee Hills. He's netted her for her money, and she's sufficiently airheaded to believe that he's rich and educated.
Saroja (Anushka) is a star prostitute in Amalapuram, who is set to escape to Hyderabad along with her friend, in order to set up her own "company".
Vivek Chakravarty (Manchu Manoj) is an army officer's son who suffers internal conflicts that only the well-heeled can afford to suffer - he wants to become a rock star.
Then, there's a destitute weaver family from Karimnagar, whose school-going child is being forced into bonded labour. To free the kid, the family must pay up an obscene amount of money - the exact obscene amount, by the way, that our cable-wallah friend must pay a hotel for one New Year's Eve party that his girl wants to attend.
A Hindu-Muslim conflict is ambitiously shoved into the script. Manoj Bajpai plays Raheemuddin, a man who is wronged by a seemingly insensitive police department thanks to his religion.
Vedam's problem is that it grapples with several issues at once. The layers, they may have been a writer's delight, but the ever-fattening basket of topics that Krish wants to try his hand on gets tiresome at times. The film also moves into melodrama territory some times - for example, the cliched emergency care sequence in the hospital, where the heartless doctors want a police report before saving a life.
However, thanks to its length, the fun is that before you wonder if it's biting off more than it can chew, you realize it's even done with dessert. Needless to say, the "have versus have-nots" satire seemingly tops the list. Then, of course, are the all-too-obvious issues - communal clashes, kidney trade, the police force's coziness with the prostitute class.
Neatly conceptualized scenes showcasing humanity and goodness, though, are the snippets that end up blowing you away. In fact, sometimes, Vedam's little touches and sub-texts make a larger impact than the headlining themes.
The story-telling style screams new-age, thanks to the spontaneity in performances and the subtlety in the humour. The only aberration is Anushka's track, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the flick - her portions are characterized by bizarrely theatrical acting and retro music.
And then, there's the cast. Though the 3 leads share almost negligible screen space (and Arjun and Manoj share almost none), the fact that this is a multi-starrer is a private victory for Telugu movie fans.
Cable Raju is as likely to be stuck in Tollywood memory as Gaali Seenu
was, and that is partly to Allu Arjun's credit. His is not a role that is art-movie-ishly extraordinary, but his energy is infectious, and he's brilliant as always. Cable Raju, in fact, is largely a comedy track, and one of the most soothing things this movie offers.
Anushka is quite striking in every frame, and her real triumph is in the fact that she's irreplaceable. The person who plays Karpooram, her hijra sidekick, is brilliant, too.
An all-too-evident oddity is the fact that Manchu Manoj is credited for making a "guest appearance", when clearly there's more. And if indeed there was much more to that "more", it's a pity we get to see only what we did - his could have been an interesting track.
And there's more - Satyam Rajesh, Raghu Babu and Brahmanandam pitch in for more comic relief. There's even more - Posani features in the flick.
Keeravani is spot on with the emotions dealt with in every number; and also with every character that the background track is set against. The visuals are slick, with visibly western influences.
This one is a movie for several kinds of fans of Telugu cinema. Hopefully, you fit in somewhere.