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Savitri Review

Josh /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait for OTT
Krishna Chaitanya's plot for Savitri is as unambitious as it gets. Savitri (Nandita) is obsessed with being married right from childhood. It doesn't matter to her whom she marries, and it doesn't matter what she is going to do with her life after the wedding - all she wants is to get married. Before you can spell r-e-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e, she bumps into a fun and cheeky Rishi (Nara Rohit), who falls in love with her in the most unconvincing of circumstances and decides to woo her away from her engagement.

There is one too many a clichéd trope in the script. The hysterically impractical female lead is portrayed as "cute" and fully desirable. There is the comedian so completely off his head he believes he is a Lord Krishna incarnate after a two-minute speech by the hero. There is the loving family where the patriarch waxes lyrical about paruvu and prathishta. A wealthy girl and a middle class guy elope, and despite being so removed from each other that they practically don't even speak each other's language (the girl speaks English and the boy replies in Telugu), they are somehow in the right to run away and get married. Because love is all you need, isn't it?

Aside from these issues, one fear we had about the casting was that Nara Rohit isn't exactly the name that comes to mind when you think fun, cheeky youngster. We recently mentioned in Tuntari's review that he appears like he never really was young. He still doesn't fit this role, but he seems to be more comfortable this time around. The mannerisms are more natural, and the body language more at home. And that possibly has to do with a director who knows his craft.

Pavan Sadineni's direction is what really pulls Savitri up. Despite the tropes being old and the plot being repetitive, something about the execution keeps the film going. The editing in the scenes with multiple actors and a bunch of close-ups are done with a certain smoothness that you don't find anything amiss (these scenes usually draw attention to themselves on account of how jarring they seem). The film often takes off to a kind of slow motion to emphasize the actions on screen, and these decisions all pay off. Sadineni has a fairly good idea how things will play out on the screen, and that's a talent a director has got to have.

Further, he engages his cast well. Thankfully, his screenplay's idea of humour is not to spoof the most recent blockbuster with a fifty-something comedian huffing and puffing to say unimaginative lines. That sort of laziness seems to have no place in his work. So you have pretty well-written comedy scenes that the actors make good use of. Prabhas Srinu, Satya, Ramaprabha, Jeeva and Fish Venkat among others are hilarious, and it is always a joy to watch the Telugu comedian work with material that is worth their talent.

This works out particularly well for Nandita. She, with her vast eyes, is a sight for sore eyes as she prances around in those half-sarees and sarees. It isn't just about how good she looks, we're equally invested in how convincing she looks in those clothes. Given our films, it isn't altogether unenvisagable that a fair-complexioned lady from Mumbai with no concept of lip-sync could be cast for this role. While Savitri is not really a film that lives up to the reputation of its legendary namesake, we can take solace from the fact that a pretty and expressive Telugu girl is playing the titular role.

En fin, Savitri could have been a painfully mediocre film if it were left in the hands of lesser talent. Pavan Sadineni shows a lot of promise and elevates the film to being a patchy entertainer. However, the patches which entertain do it well, and that might just be all you need this weekend.
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Savitri (telugu) reviews
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jayz on 5th Apr 2016, 5:48pm | Permalink
Mr josh...what is actually stalking,sexual harrasment, intimindation passes of for courtship in most telugu movies...doesnt happen a lot in hindi and other languages...why is that so??
Josh on 9th Apr 2016, 12:46pm | Permalink
Been busy, Jayz. Anyway, coming back to our question, you might find this answer a bit lacking as opposed to my other answers because I'm not fully sure myself. So in place of conviction I will offer you speculation.

However, one thing I'm certain about is we're not alone here. Barring Bollywood (where the industry and its market are considerably upscale), most other Indian industries demonstrate this phenomenon of crude and confused courtship. The industry I'm most familiar with is Tamil and they have a lot of stalking and ranting against women in Tasmac bars (govt run liquor stalls). Dhanush used to do a lot of these roles (I'm a big fan of Dhanush otherwise, particularly the producer he is). Why, his role in Raanjhna is quite like that, too.

Kannada, Bengali, Bhojpuri, and Punjabi films have similar traits. The commercial films at least. I left out Malayalam because the troubles there are quite different, I feel. Anyway, our own films dubbed into other languages have a huge market in other regions. That means people are watching these scenes and accepting them.

Which people? Men. Why? That is where the speculation will begin.

1) The sixth and higher sense possessed by Indian men is the sense of entitlement. We feel we deserve to get what we want with little or no effort. This is what we learn from our households. The sisters' requirements take second place as opposed to our own. Being a single child is worse. It's all ours and we make the center of the universe. Where our desires don't seem to be met, we throw tantrums. So, naturally, we feel entitled to affection and gratification as well. Just because we're awesome.

2) Our smoothness at wooing women is legendary (I'm being sarcastic, of course). Because dating and romance is a taboo in India, most of our boys and men have no one to discuss this stuff with. Except their peers who are equally clueless. The only other source is often movies but movies only give you what you want to see (otherwise you wouldn't see it anyway). The feedback loop sustains this ignorance.

3) These strategies actually work! Not always and certainly not with all women but quite some women respond positively to some of this stuff. Stalking is perceived to be flattering. A guy is often expected to 'man up' and aggressive men who insist on their way are found attractive. These numbers aren't even close to majority but they are enough to reinforce the stereotype.

I have left out a lot of stuff which is intuitive to me and difficult to articulate. But you probably have something of an answer there.
Jayz on 9th Apr 2016, 1:14pm | Permalink
We see a lot of acid attacks, knife attacks on girls by spurned " lovers" who stalk them relentlessly and harass them in the name love....are our heroes to blame here,atleast partly....
Josh on 10th Apr 2016, 9:31pm | Permalink
Partly. And that is not the part that I'd worry about. But at any rate, going by my earlier answer, the heroes are still small fry. Directors like Puri Jagannath are a bigger problem.

But movies as a whole are not that big an issue and this is probably not the forum to discuss such social evils. However, I'll just say that it is a problem of economics, sociology, and psychology more than one of entertainment.
Josh on 7th Apr 2016, 10:18pm | Permalink
Neck deep in a bunch of things right now, JayZ. I'll respond next week. Cheers.
Kanye on 2nd Apr 2016, 11:03pm | Permalink
Nara Rohit was never an extraordinary looking person. It actually pains to watch him try and pull off the "cool, go-with-the-flow" kind of guy and moreover looks like a looney with all that excessive fat (oh.. the fat).
True, i loved him Solo and was immensely impressed with Prathidhi and Asura but it seems he fell trap to the formulaic bhajana in hopes of scoring a hit! It's quite sad what a genuine actor has to do in order to be taken more seriously in our films...
Jayz on 2nd Apr 2016, 10:47pm | Permalink
Mr josh .....another question....why is the shelf life of telugu actresses is so less....samantha and sruthi were top 2 years ago..its not the case anymore...before them it was ileana and kajal...why is there no longevity
Josh on 3rd Apr 2016, 10:57am | Permalink
This has to do with my last answer on how our entertainment is largely male entertainment. So the women we see in our films are through a male prism. And that effectively means they are there because they are attractive and men can have crushes on them. But crushes last only a few years. Then we conveniently replace our object of affection with another young yuppie one.

I don't complain about the presence of a certain kind of entertainment as much as I resent the absence of other forms of entertainment. Women using their sex appeal in films meant for a predominantly young male audience is not something I have great issues with.

My issues are with the fact that there are very very few films which are meant for other audiences. If there was a culture of films made for women (could be insufferable chick flicks for all I care), you'd see actresses with substantial longevity because they are entertaining women. And women would bear with them just the way we bear with our old heroes.
Kanye on 2nd Apr 2016, 11:09pm | Permalink
Im not Josh but i'll take a shot at it!
The heroines in our films are objects. Simple cut-outs to please the common eye with no humane emotions. But its not completely the directors fault, most heroines come here with no acting talent and rely on pure looks so there is no question on "longevity." Besides, we still celebrate our greats such as Sridevi and Jayasudha and we will come to celebrate the better heroines too (quite frankly i only see Samantha as a good actress). Hopefully, they will start picking up meatier roles in their future.
Josh on 3rd Apr 2016, 10:58am | Permalink
If I may say so, Kanye, there isn't much meat to pick from.
Kanye on 4th Apr 2016, 5:16am | Permalink
Very true! Although there are some movies that require some acting chops from our ladies (Manam, Eega, Rudramadevi, Anamika). But that is no reason to ignore the fact that TFI is hero-centric with explosive introductions and around 80% of the movie being occupied by there badass glory.
jayz on 2nd Apr 2016, 11:39pm | Permalink
Such a "good" actress had yo rely on shedding of her excess fat( kinda cute fat seen in Em maya) her excess clothes and a lip enhancement to make her relevant again
Kanye on 4th Apr 2016, 5:07am | Permalink
I'm not really one to say but I heard it was because of some illness she went through. In order to retain some beauty she had to undergo some surgery
Josh on 2nd Apr 2016, 9:00am | Permalink
Hi JayZ! The answer to this question as with the other questions is the same thing - that is what people watch. However, here we can indulge in some detail - who are these people watching this stuff and why are they watching it? Here's my hypothesis and belief.

A large part of the audience is men. Boys and young men in particular. They are the ones with the freedom and finances to watch movies. Older men usually have responsibilities. Women have little freedom to actually go to a theatre and watch a morning show or a second show. They usually require someone to tag along with and at best can make it to the first show; that is still daylight but after work/college hours.

Young men, however, bunk work or college quite easily, can go as a group or alone, and do not have a problem walking into a seedy theatre at any time of the day. Moreso, the films are anyway made for them. Women just feel like they are bystanders to an entertainment for men.

Since we are sorted on the demographic, we can now come to why wastrels and useless louts are celebrated. Because, most of our young men relate to them. It isn't that these young men are all uneducated but the cheeky-go-lucky archetype still works for them since most of them feel like or are made to feel like losers anyway.

It's a tremendously competitive society, ours. The pakkinti abbai is always going to do better than you. So you feel bad about yourself. But the pakkinti abbai is not happy either. He's worried about the laurels of the edurinti abbai who is probably resenting you over your own good fortune that you compulsively disregard.

So all these abbais quickly connect to a guy who's portrayed as useless but is still a hero. The hero's responsibilities are two-fold. One is to be relatable to the target demographic and then make them feel good about themselves. So the hero can achieve something, and/or sacrifice his desires for family (so the family, importantly the dad, knows that he was a good person all along), and/or wins the pretty girl's love.

The well educated guy who is ridiculed is the representation of the particular pakkinti abbai who made it big (there is always that guy who made it big in your eyes and he might have on occassion been cocky with you causing you to be very upset with him). So it's always a nice feeling to ridicule him and feel good about ourselves.
Jayz on 2nd Apr 2016, 11:03am | Permalink
But this was not the case earlier right? Past actors like Shoban Babu,ANR etc used to play dignified characters like cops or doctors.NTR,Chiru etc loved to play blue collar workers like drivers or coolies....why do you think this has changed?
Josh on 3rd Apr 2016, 10:42am | Permalink
A colossal change came across Indian society during the early nineties. India opened up its economy to the world and that led to an influx of so much wealth, luxuries, and opportunities for the middle classes (the absolute lower classes are suffering far more but you should read Amartya Sen for that).

Before the economic liberalisation, the middle class (which was the true market since the lower classes had no money and upper classes had no numbers) had a fairly codified value system and way of living. Those were the times when you get into a job and work for thirty years straight till retirement. Government jobs are best because of job security and IAS officers were the centres of the multiverse.

So the films which were made for these people espoused their causes and embraced their values. Doctors and cops were considered noble folks. Blue collar workers were heroes. Upper classes with unimaginable wealth were the villains without values.

A lot of this had to do with the fact that the middle classes accepted their lot and actively told themselves that they can't really make much more money than they already do. Their value system was largely based on this assumption. But after the early nineties, people realised they could enter the upper classes if they worked towards it. Software, on site opportunity, IIT's, IIM's, real estate, EMI's, Masters in America, e-commerce, these are new fads all of which are basically a reflection of how much the society is keen on wealth - both acquiring and flaunting.

With this kind of influx of wealth, value systems enter a state of flux, too. People now want to watch movies about wealthy polished people (even if they hold super-regressive attitudes) because now we can aspire to be like that. Blue collar workers are seen to be wasting their lives. The simple goal now is to get into a wealthier bracket with more comforts.

This is a very very different society compared to the one our previous generation lived in (I'm assuming you're young when I say this). Which is why you observe that their films are vastly different from ours.
Maktub on 5th Apr 2016, 2:52pm | Permalink
A fine example is how Pawan Kalyan (in his role in the movie "Attarintiki Daredi") treats Late MS Narayana who is an elder and it was a comedy scene. Because Pawan is a rich polished guy, and when he beats fellow workers, it is pictured as comedy.
Jayz on 2nd Apr 2016, 10:56am | Permalink
What kind of message goes across to the audience,when Balayya lectures. About the virtues of women and their greatness in one scene and then proceeds to dance around with a. Bikini clad 20 sonething girl?
Josh on 3rd Apr 2016, 10:47am | Permalink
The message is that hypocrisy is a very useful tool. However, we don't need Balayya to tell us that. We can be grade-A hypocrites on our strength :)

Jokes aside, I think we get the whole feminism thing wrong when we talk about virtues and greatness as opposed to rights and liberties. What it means to fight for women is to get them equal opportunities as men in all walks of life. To think somebody is a great person because she's a woman is very flawed thinking.
Jayz on 1st Apr 2016, 10:21pm | Permalink
Mr Josh...why are wastrels,good for nothing louts celebrated as heroes in tollywood?why is a well educated guy considered a loser and ridiculed by our hero and his cronies
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