Telugu cinema it appears has almost come of age. "Almost", because if it weren't
that Manjula happens to be the daughter of a big star and has won a national award,
her debut venture Show would have passed the silver horizon silent and unnoticed.
That the filmmakers themselves are skeptical of people's response is evident in
the choice of the theater. Mini Odeon, on the first day of the film, was just
full, albeit with appreciative audiences.
It is such a relief to watch a film that actually has something called a screenplay and a sequence that logically builds up to a finale. Though the format has been tried and tested in other languages - mainly Hindi, Malyalam and Bengali -Show for most Telugu audiences can only be an experimental film, while the connoisseur would view it as a refreshing change from the routine.
How would two people, forced into each other's company, react to each other? Assuming that they are gregarious, how far does the interaction between the two develop? Manjula's Show explores these questions with a slickness and intelligence that are singularly absent in most other films. Riddhima (Manjula) and Madhav (Surya) separately reach a remote farmhouse for an appointment, but discover that the meeting is postponed by several hours. With no choice but to wait, they think up ways to entertain each other. And suddenly they stumble on life.
Madhav is an actor who is reduced to a nincompoop by a disgruntled wife who can never see him as anything more than a source of income. His longing for the dramatics inspires him to start play-acting with his acquaintance of a few hours. And, in the process, reveals the hurt and disillusionment that is etched deep in his heart.
In a microcosm, we are all displaying our histrionics one way or the other. We are all actors, constantly acting out roles painted in various shades. The acting may get out of hand, the act can take a bizarre twist, and yet we may remain anchored to reality, unable to loosen the strings that pull us.
It is a pleasant irony that actor Krishna's daughter, who for decades has churned
out run-of-the-mill films, should come out with a quality film. It is a movie
that utilizes to the fullest extent possible, the attributes and faculties of
the medium, without falling into a trap even once. Amazing, considering that our
films are invariably in the pits.
Surya scores over his co-actor, due mainly to his enormous experience. It is a pity that this man's capabilities were never allowed to surface before. Manjula is a delight to watch, reminiscent occasionally of Amala, and evokes the hope that in due course she would be the fountainhead of some decent work in Telugu cinema.
Show belongs to the story-writer, to the director, to the actors, and finally
to audience who can appreciate quality. If you are the kind who would choke on
a story in a film, cannot do without at least half-a-dozen songs, suggestive dances,
slapstick and innuendoes, please do not watch Show. For all others, it's a must.