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Dear Comrade Review

Dear Comrade
T J Reddy / fullhyd.com
EDITOR RATING
5.0
Performances
Script
Music/Soundtrack
Visuals
7.0
3.0
7.0
7.0
Suggestions
Can watch again
No
Good for kids
No
Good for dates
Yes
Wait to rent it
No
A long time ago, there existed a philosopher named Karl Marx. He had an impossibly cool beard to go with his impossibly cool name and had a set of impossibly revolutionary ideas. These ideas would be condensed into a political pamphlet titled The Communist Manifesto. It was the work of a man fed up with a system powered by capitalism. He prophesied of a day where the world would be devoid of a class system and called upon working men around the globe to aid him in achieving his vision.

In 2019, there exists a debutant director named Bharat Kamma. He made a movie titled Dear Comrade. His movie tells the story of Chaitanya aka Bobby (Vijay Devarakonda) and Aparna Devi aka Lilly (Rashmika Mandanna). Bobby is the head of Kakinada's student union and Lilly is a player in the South Zone cricket team. Bobby attempts to wrestle with the system for the benefit of the student body and Lilly strives to be a part of the Indian National Cricket Team.

Bobby's and Lilly's paths intersect and subsequently intertwine. They fall in love, they break up, they grow both as individuals and as a couple, and through all this, the movie attempts to send its audience home a tad happier and a tinge more socially conscious. With his writing, Bharat Kamma dares to imagine a world where a mainstream Telugu movie would provide equal importance to both its male and female lead characters. He called upon the youth of South India to support his vision by releasing his movie in four languages.

Nearly a century ago, a man named Vladamir Lenin came to power and prominence in the Soviet Union. His ideology was based on that of Karl Marx, and was pivotal in galvanizing Soviet Russia into overthrowing the Czar. The power was in the hands of the people. But power corrupts. In an effort to consolidate it, Lenin's detractors were eliminated until one voice and one political system rang true. Karl Marx's idealistic views had been distorted ever so slightly.

Noble intentions need noble execution. Noble executions need time and patience. But time erodes even the most immense of mountains. With a runtime of nearly three hours, Dear Comrade has no dearth of time, and with a leisurely paced first half, director Bharat Kamma shows that he isn't afraid of being patient with his characters and their journeys.

During this first half, Dear Comrade makes Bobby and Lilly fall in love with each other, it makes the audience fall in love with them, and finally, its makes the characters and the audience fall in love with the milieu of Kakinada. A few confident camera moves, a soundtrack as smooth as silk and a handful of affable actors mask some lacklustre sound mixing, haphazard editing, shots that begin out of focus, and noticeably bad colour correction.

Post Lenin's demise, Joseph Stalin took over as the leader of the Soviet Union. Under Stalin, the Soviet Union experienced massive growth in the fields of agriculture and industry. His choice to align himself with the allied powers aided in the defeat of the axis. However, Stalin's methods resulted in the execution of nearly 700,000 people. Dissenting voices were reduced to meek silences, and the truth was fabricated at all times. Anything was true and everything was possible. One man controlling the State, the party and the fate of all his citizens - Marx would be heartbroken. Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Post intermission, Dear Comrade's narrative becomes something similar to spreading your bets at a roulette table. With the onus of actually telling a story squarely upon it, the movie tries to go big or go home with each of its many sub-plots. Politics in sports, mental health, holistic sound therapy, a man trying to find his purpose, and many more secondary plots attempt to offer a reason for Dear Comrade's existence. The movie tackles heavy themes in comically over-the-top ways, and in turn, becomes a jumbled mess whose characters experience growth or stay inane based on the requirements of the plot.

The film makes the bold choice of choosing a message over telling its story, and before someone picks up a red flag, the message is not a political one but one of a social kind. It is a message that has been drilled into our collective eyes and ears so much in the recent past that it has almost diluted all of its importance and gravity.

The film uses Vijay Devarakonda and Rashmika Mandanna as conduits to relay its messages, and we can't think of a better duo for the job. They share a stronger chemistry than they did in their previous outing together, and seem perfect for the roles they are cast for. Devarakonda's unique ability to convey fragile masculinity is par excellence, and his presence alone makes the audience sympathise with a character that refuses to grow or change. Mandanna is at her best when sharing space with her co-star. The highs in her performance come as part of interacting with him, and her lows come as part of her displaying visceral emotion, a facet of acting she is yet to fully master.

When the movie's writing falters, its delightful production design and delectable score and soundtrack take over the job of elevating its actors and their performances. There is a genuine sense of warmth associated with the film's look and feel, and for reasons unknown to us, its editing and editing flow play spoilsports with it.

Dear Comrade is an amalgamation of good ideas and "cool" ideas. The good ideas come in the form of equal weight placed on both its lead characters, sound design, score, some gorgeous shots and good acting. Its "cool" idea conundrum can be explained using its title as an example. By using the word "Comrade" and putting up posters featuring Che, Marx, Lenin, Stalin etc, the movie would have you believe that its philosophical ideology aligns with theirs. However, the connotation here is more in line with that of Webster's dictionary. The film chose the word comrade over the word friend because the former makes for a "cooler" title. The movie says all the right things without ever feeling it in its bones. The lack of honesty results in a lack of staying power.
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Swaroop Thotada on 2nd Aug 2019, 11:57am | Permalink
Nice review TJ
TJ Reddy on 5th Aug 2019, 7:43am | Permalink
Thank you, Swaroop. Much appreciated.
SP on 29th Jul 2019, 9:16pm | Permalink
Comrades have been almost wiped out of the country. Only people lionizing them is the film industry. If only film reflects the reality
Anvesh on 28th Jul 2019, 11:11am | Permalink
I have to say it and I say it with deliberation - you are the finest critic we have in TFI. Nailed it.
The Common Movie Goer on 30th Jul 2019, 10:23am | Permalink
TJ is definitely one of the best in the country. Wouldn't be much of an exaggeration to say he is one of the best in the world. This is coming from a person who doesn't agree with more than half of his ratings. The way he weaves these little stories and analogies goes to show how much pride he has in his work.

I read a ton of reviews and, somehow, all of my favorite reviewers end up coming from fullhyd.com. Deepa Garimella's writing was what got me hooked onto this website, and I've been a devotee of the site's reviews since then. She had this amazing acerbic wit which would just jump out at you in the funniest way imaginable. I was as much in love with her writing as she loved the Mass Maharaja. Her tweets were amazing as well, with a lot of funny takes on telugu-related things (very similar to @Sastryyy.) Just wish she would start writing again somewhere.

Fullhyd's had some amazing reviewers since then. Kritika Deval was amazing, and her reviews were full of sarcasm. A lot of cliched telugu movies bore the brunt of her ire - especially the ones with stalking sequences.

Then came Josh. Guy is a genius, nothing much to say there. He was the one who kickstarted the movement where readers get to learn about the movie and something extra on the side.

TJ is definitely up there with the rest of the OG legends. It definitely takes an extremely talented and well-read writer to spin these yarns while dissecting the movie on a very technical basis. I doubt if half the cinematographers and editors possess the technical knowledge that he does. His comment about cinematographers leaving lights in the frame gets me everytime (unfortunately, I actually like the lights being left out in the field).

TJ, would love to hear your thoughts on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I thought it was a brilliantly made yet super-slow burn movie. Don't want to spoil anything, but there was one sequence where I practically howling with laughter. I look forward to that review.

P.S. Special mention to Ravi Kandala. Loved his writing, hated his ratings with a vengeance. His rating never matched my experience, not once. Will never forgive him for giving Rahuvaran BTech a 5.5. Movie deserved 11/10.
Deepa G on 5th Aug 2019, 5:58pm | Permalink
@The Common Movie Goer,

This is Deepa here. You are very kind with your praise :) Thank you so much. Credit to the editor, too, for pushing me to my best of abilities. The current writers on fullhyd, are, of course, have a far keener eye for things, and some exceptional writerly skills.

And hey, I was not that big a Ravi Teja fan as people on here seem to think :P

(@fullhyd editors: Forgive me while I take this opportunity to shamelessly plug something)

Ravi Kandala and I look back on our reviewing days with fondness (me a little less because of all the movies I watched in the mini-Odeons of the world :O), and we do want to continue writing. We have been collaborating (along with a few other like-minded people) on a project called Pittagoda. It started out as a blog collective, where we wrote reviews of movies, books and whatever else caught our fancy. But recently, we also launched a podcast, where we have conversations among ourselves, and with interesting people. Please check out https://anchor.fm/pittagoda for our podcast, and pittagoda.wordpress.com, our blog. Do subscribe, like, comment etc. :D

Loads of love,

- Deepa (and Ravi)
The Common Movie Goer on 5th Aug 2019, 10:54pm | Permalink
Celebrity spotted! Hello, Deepa! Great to hear you guys are writing again. Will definitely check out the new reviews and podcasts - I love podcasts. I adore Pittagoda! My friend used to contribute comics and memes to the website.

Sometimes, some people have to suffer so others gain. I've mentioned this before, but fullhyd writers are people we don't deserve, but the ones we need. You guys spread so much joy by signing up for the Brahamarambas and the Devis (has Devi ever had a good release in its history? I only remember watching mega-utter-flops at Devi except for Happy Days. It was the anti-thesis of Sudarshan).

Will you be tweeting again?

P.S. Definitely recommend some episodes of Joe Rogan, especially those with Rhonda Patrick, Freakonomics, Filmspotting, Revisionist History and Stuff You Should Know, for those who are just starting out listening to podcasts.
TJ Reddy on 5th Aug 2019, 8:15pm | Permalink
Hello to the awesome Ms Garimella

I did listen an episode of your podcast (the one about Hippi). It is super enjoyable and the banter between all of you on the panel is very organic. I'll be listening in more often. Cheers on your new endeavour.

My best wishes to Ravi as well.
TJ Reddy on 31st Jul 2019, 10:18am | Permalink
I'm humbled yet again. Thank you so much for some of the kindest words ever. But I will say that there are so many many people who write and talk about films that are leaps and bounds ahead of me. People like BR, Anthony Lane, William Bibbiani, Alicia Malone, Adam from YMS are all so much more qualified than I am at this moment. I've learnt so much from them and continue to do so on a daily basis. Not to mention, going back and reading up on reviews by Deepa Garimella and Josh always puts a smile on my face. I can be technical but I can never be as entertaining as them.

That being said, what I appreciate the most is the conversation. I struggle to agree with BR and Adam's opinions from time to time but I appreciate the perspective they bring in. They are so very objective with how they consume film that their views are so much more different when compared to mine. The clashing ideas help me learn more about the craft. I know it’s the same with you and I, too. That is why the conversation attached to my Rangasthalam review makes it one of my favourite pieces I've ever put on this site. The number rarely matters. The conversation always does.

The amount of technical stuff I discuss in a review is very minimal. For example, in this movie, there are so many shots that are edited a frame or two too quickly which causes a jarring break to the edit pattern. I genuinely cannot mention all that or the review becomes 5 pages long. My girlfriend bears with my hour-long dissection of every film I watch. She is an absolute rock and deserves as much, if not more, praise as I do for all the reviews.

I believe that the makers do know what they are doing. Everyone understands the basics but they just work with such tight schedules and budgets and pay very little attention to detail because of it. A Mani Ratnam film or a Super Deluxe (observe the aeroplane time cue) stands head and shoulders above so many films simply because of how well the film is crafted. They are made by people who don't care about the tedious time-consuming aspects of movie-making. Moreover, they enjoy that simply because they get to add more directorial touches throughout the editing and post-production process. It is the difference between Gordon Ramsay's toffee pudding and a sticky date pudding from any other place.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood is releasing on August 15th at my location. I'll report back once I watch it.
TJ Reddy on 29th Jul 2019, 5:21pm | Permalink
Whoa! I'd like to begin by saying I'm very humbled by your kind words Anvesh. Even though I would dispute the sentiment I'm so happy for having your support.
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