Varaala Babu (Adi) hates his over-achieving neighbour Ravi, largely because his own not-so-great activities are constantly compared to those of Ravi. Ravi's father and his own father consistently take pot shots at him, and one fine day he gets so sick of it all, he leaves home for Hyderabad to make his fortune. There he falls in love, comes to face his issues with Ravi, uncovers an employment scam, thrashes a bunch of goons, and performs other such assorted duties for heroes prescribed in the movies.
A film featuring the son of a yesteryear actor for hero, a confused pretty north-Indian face for heroine, Brahmanandam in a PK
spoof for comedy, Jayaprakash Reddy dancing to Manohari (from Baahubali
) for more comedy, smashing of people's heads in retaliation to free advice for villainy - the list goes on - promises very little out of the ordinary.
A reviewer nonetheless tries to look out for the few good things. Like how this film which is so undemanding and uninvolving for large parts of its content still manages to churn out some highly effective emotional scenes (with no small help from actors like Naresh, Bharani and Srilakshmi). Barring such elements, nothing appears worthy of comment or analysis. But sometimes you realise it's all about perspective, and perspective is what we have today.
This reviewer had company for watching Garam today. Nanda Kishore, a mathematician from Proddatur, willingly tagged along, and post-exhibit, shared some interesting insights into a film which would usually have been indifferently dismissed. The rest of this review will be the (creatively reconstructed) conversation between the reviewer and his friend.
Nanda: So. What did you think?
Josh: Quite mediocre, I felt. Except in parts. The music and cinematography were competent. However, I really liked the emotional portions. I wish the director had worked on those areas and made a full film out of them. But of course, he can't afford to.
Nanda: Why can't he afford to?
Josh: The particular analogy I have in mind is how a child in high school may take a serious liking towards, say, geography, but then has to study for every other subject because the exams are round the corner and marks are all that matter. She could score an A+ in geography but overall it would be a pretty shoddy report card. A director in the mainstream faces very similar problems.
Nanda: Haha! yes.
Josh: Madan (director) is clearly excellent at the emotional portions. He is the writer of Aa Naluguru
, which was a terrific script. And if you've watched Pellaina Kothalo
, you'll know he has a flair for writing interesting human interactions. But sadly, he has to go way beyond his strengths to make a full-fledged mainstream film. He has to make masala sequences, comic stretches, hero elevation, villain elevation - none of which he seems to be really interested in.
Nanda: Yup, the filmmaking does come across as a product of disinterest.
Josh: What did you think of it?
Nanda: I think it'll run well in Proddatur.
Josh: Ah, really?
Nanda: It is what I call a town/village movie. What you probably call a B-centre film.
Josh: Hmmm... That is the trade term. But I like it. Anyway, why do you think it'll run well in towns?
Nanda: The hero here is trying his best to get the rural and semi-urban youth to relate to him. Like, you see, when there is so much emphasis on how he is very annoyed with the neighbour for the incessant comparisons his father makes with him. This is an all-too-common occurrence in towns and villages. "Look at Gokulamma's son. Look at Ramaiah's daughter. Why don't you try to be like them?" Very familiar stuff.
Josh: Go on.
Nanda: The second hinge of the plot - the employment scam in the second half - plays directly to these youth. They often have degrees which don't get them high-paying jobs but gives them a sense of dignity which doesn't allow them to take up blue-collar jobs. They are the ones who really deal with unemployment. The victims of such scams are these very people.
Nanda: Furthermore, Aadi is trying to occupy a particular kind of hero niche which isn't available to top-billed stars.
Josh: Like what?
Nanda: Imagine a 21-year-old in Suryapet. He can't try to imitate Mahesh Babu or Pawan Kalyan without being ridiculed. He'll be cut down to his size with insults. So this guy needs a definition of cool which isn't too audacious. Hero roles like these lend themselves well to such purposes.
Josh: Wow... Didn't think of that.
Nanda: These kind of films were more common earlier. Where the hero, usually in a village, is usually misunderstood by his father and later, and after some strenuous and testing circumstances, comes out as the gem of the household and the village in general. Nowadays the hero has to travel to the city because you don't want to alienate that audience. But at any rate, the template is a guy who is very good at heart, generally perceived as a failure, and finally is acknowledged as the hero by everyone who questioned him earlier.
Josh: This is a lot like Raghuvaran B. Tech.
(dubbed from the Tamil Vela Illa Pattadhaari). That one became quite a sleeper hit here. I know any number of engineering grads who connected with that film strongly.
Nanda: Yup, the audience wants either or both of two things - the entertainment component, and a story or character to relate to. It is because of relatability that S V Krishna Reddy churned out hit after hit for over a decade.
Josh: True. But looks like the audience is rather focused on the entertainment aspect nowadays. There appears to be much more emphasis on the superhuman heroics, the comedy, and the masala.
Nanda: Either that, or...
Nanda: Or the industry is misunderstanding its market.
Josh: Hmmm. I wonder which of those arguments is true.
Garam is by no means an extraordinary movie or even a good enough one. You'd perhaps enjoy yourself if you didn't pay too much attention. And that's as much as this reviewer thought could be said about it. Who knew it could spawn an interesting discussion?