Indraganti's Sammohanam is not only audacious enough to slow down all too often, it also earns its right to do so. For it doesn't inch forward at a snail's pace simply to fill time but explores its characters' nuances. There is a key scene in the movie's first hour where the lead pair talk leisurely about their lives on a terrace, late in the night, and time is virtually suspended as the director shows his complete defiance of any norms that would hold back a lesser film, and goes on to weave the magic he so desperately wants to. After all, for a film named "Sammohanam", an intoxicating superlative, such magic is very much warranted.
And there are many such moments in Sammohanam that can be termed magical, thanks to the lead pair who masterfully inhabit their characters rather than just reinvent them to their convenience. Sammohanam is the film that cements Sudheer Babu and Aditi Rao Hydari as fine actors that directors can bank on for arresting performances. However, Indraganti chickens out in the middle to please everyone, and we are left with a movie which could have been the best romcom of recent times but ends up being merely a decent entertainer.
Vijay (Sudheer Babu) is an illustrator of children's books, and is so in love with his profession that any other art form is just a disreputable exercise in playing to the galleries. He is vocal of his disdain for films and filmy people, much to the aggravation of his father Sarveswara Rao (Naresh) whose veins if cut would spill out movie dialogues. Rao's delusions of grandeur and his futile hopes of being an Indian counterpart to Brando provide many laughs, and Naresh aces the funny parts.
Vijay's mother Anasuya (Pavitra Lokesh) is a freelance caterer, and his sister Divya (Harshini) is a Bharathanatyam enthusiast.
When a film crew wants their house for shooting, an overwhelmed Naresh promises to let them use it for free for twenty days. Vijay predictably despises the crew initially but warms up to them later. Enters Sameera (Aditi Rao Hydari) into the house as the heroine, and the love story ensues.
Humour is the leitmotif of the film and also the director's vehicle to launch his thinly veiled digs at the film industry's obsession with north-Indian actors and their broken Telugu. Indraganti unleashes his inner purist and leaves no opportunity to mock all things non-Telugu. However it isn't ironic that a film that stresses so much on the right way to pronounce Telugu has its heroine speaking broken Telugu all along because that itself is the story. Vijay ends up shouldering the responsibility of teaching Sameera the language, and she turns out to be a good student.
Hydari plays Sameera as a serene diva drenched in politeness and humility. She is seemingly fragile on the surface, and it is later revealed that she is fragile on the inside as well. This sensitive girl quickly like the sensible boy, and the actors ably portray the chemistry, which peaks in the aforementioned terrace scene. Sameera curiously digs into the initially deflecting Vijay, and he soon bares his hopeless romantic self. This is one of the best directed scenes in recent Telugu films, marked by the director so totally unapologetic of the silences between the dialogues. He rightly recognizes that the pauses are as important as the lines. And the sequence is wonderfully aided by the cinematography and editing that take the risks at the right places.
In another key scene where Vijay visits Sameera in Manali to pour his heart out, we see Indraganti at his best. There is not an over-the-shoulder shot or a wide shot - all are tight close-ups. It is a feat where the audiences are virtually put in the shoes of the other character when one is on the screen, and the cast and crew pull it off. Sameera discovers that Vijay is as fragile as her and is too guilty of hurting him, and Vijay in turn feels guilty of making her guilty, and not one twitch of the eye is lost in translation.
Perhaps it dawned upon Indraganti in the second half that this is a movie that has to make money, and he ditches all this midway. The story steals the conflict from the characters, and ends up being too convenient to be real. Films like these are best sticking to character studies and not getting bogged down by the mechanics of story-telling. However humour saves the day, and we aren't bored at least. Just a little disappointed that Sammohanam is just some-mohanam.
The story is a fairy tale: a glamour diva literally falling into the lap of a regular guy - isn't that everyone's daydream? However Indraganti makes it look plausible, and scores - partly at least. The supporting cast (Rahul Ramakrishna, Tanikella Bharani, Kadambari Kiran, Ajay Bethiganti) do a good job. Vivek Sagar's soundtrack is completely in tune with the film, and the songs are alright. And as a cherry on top, you get to listen to Tanikella Bharani narrating a children's story in the climax.
Swaroop Thotada on 18th Jun 2018, 10:08am
Come on dude. Rain on the parade all you want. Yes there are a million things we can complain about. But I tend to evaluate a film based on what it promised and what it delivered. The title Sammohanam promises a lot of "class" and gloss, and a "feel-good" factor (If I may borrow Telugu audiences' terminology) and it delivers it. Of course a lot of it looks fake and I learnt to live with it in the initial 5 minutes. What I focused on in my review is the way the material is executed and refrained from criticizing the material itself.
As I mentioned in my review itself, the story is an absolute fairytale and I felt all the excess is warranted.
When I watch Shoot Em Up I kind of get used to the fact that the fights are going to be over the top and get accustomed to the norms the film sets to itself. Its a nice trick to enjoy a variety of films, as long as the film doesnt break its own rules.
I am not dismissing your complaints. Just sharing my points.