BAANAM Review—Oh!…Why Did This Film Dissapoint?!

mr-inkentiA few minutes after the show ended in Prasads, we bumped in to my wife’s cousin and she asked us how the film was. “Below average” came the answer from my wife. It turns out that even her cousin was rooting for Nara Rohit just like how I have been as I see his posters everyday on my way to the Jubilee check-post. However, 123telugu.com’s live commentary indicated that the film is “serious”, not entertaining, but meaningful and I knew the movie will fall short. Next sign was at Prasads when the theaterwala called it “average”. Yet, in spite of all these signs I still hoped that the film will turn out a pleasant surprise, but alas the film tries to be a lot and ends up being neither here nor there. Baanam is neither engaging or entertaining.

banam_poster1The film begins in the mid70’s with Bhagat (Nara Rohit) as a kid and his dad (Shivaju Shinde) leaving his kid behind and jumping in to the river to escape police firing. He is a naxal. Years later, in 1989, he surrenders and comes home to see his son all grown up, preparing for UPSC exams and aiming for IPS. Meanwhile, a retarded thread dedicated to a young and ruthless goon called Sakthi Patnaik runs parallel. He kills his own father, banishes his uncle to take over the throne. The third thread is a love story. Subalakshmi is married, but is asked orphaned when her father dies and in-laws ask her to get out of the house. Bhagat decides to be her “guardian” and brings her home. The story goes forward only because of a silly development: Subalakshmi’s ex-husband (she pulls of her mangal-sutram to throw away the marriage) in a drunk state brings one of Sakthi’s mean along who eventually gets beaten up and later dies. Sakthi is upset and wants to finish off Bhagat, but little does he know that our hero is all-powerful and is able to bash-up all the goons set for him. Yes, Bhagat is selected for IPS, but he is too big for his shoes even before the training so he requests his the training officer to give him four trainees from the bottom. He trains them to begin eliminating Sakhti’s gang. All ends well, except that Bhagat’s father dies while trying to kill Sakhti. And by the way, it never really struck me as a period film set in the late 1980s.

I am not exactly sure what the director wanted the film to be: (i) to highlight a clash of ideology between a naxal father and a son who is choosing the system? (ii) the power of police? (iii) or, an art-kinda film or an art-commerical fusion? The answer to all the questions above is: unsatisfactory. There is no plot to keep you engaged. The best part of the film is its running time of 2 hours. You can see elements of good direction here and there. For example, the first scene where Bhagat sees a girl at the station sitting under a tree with baggage and head down in the morning and sees her in the same position in the evening with all her flowers faded is my favorite scene. However, a few elements of good direction (and a few wannabe intellectural dialgoues) here and there cannot save a film that just does not have an engaging script, which is critical for the success of such films. Beyond this, the characterization of the leading actress is weak and is made to cry most of the time or ask really silly questions to show her innocence.  Rest of the cast is fine. Nara Rohit looks great in some shots and somehwere you cannot help but feel he inherits the awkwardness of Mr. Naidu! At this stage of this career, it looks like Mr. Nara Rohit cannot act–he can only do one thing at a time—but is able to do the action scenes with ease. At times he looks like an earlier version of Pawan Kalyan. Overall, I feel this guy can really make it if he works on his acting and also chooses the right scripts after deciding what sort of a hero he wants to be. Vedika as Subalakshmi looks good in close-ups, but otherwise she looks like a patient. Shivaji Shinde delivers his usual self.

The director has everything for him: a prestigious banner (Vyjayanthi/Three Angels Studio; what sort of a nonsensicalbanam_poster2 name is Three Angels? why be so Hollywood-ish?), a blockbuster distributor (Geetha Arts), and a new hero with whom a variety subject can be experimented with without the burdern of a star-burden (he is only the nephew of a former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh). Why choose such a dark and pale subject of naxals, police, system vs out-of-system theme, and of course the mandatory goonda in every telugu film (perhaps having such a goonda and showing a few killings makes this film a commerical one). The film lacks the intellectual elements to qualify as an off-beat or artsy film and neither does it have any entertaining elements to qualify as a commerical film. Although the film is earning praises from virtually all other telugu film websites (“honest” “sensible” “path breaking”—-it is none of the above), in my view the film does not deliver or rather the film does not know what to deliver. Music is good, I just liked the first song (btw, too much of jogging is shown in this song).  It will be unfair to Gamyam to compare Baanam with Gamyam. Sure, Baanam feels like Gamyam wannabe. Anyways, I cant understand why our filmmakers cannot choose good stories with variety instead always seem to making the same things a little differently with the mandatory evil-than-evil goonda.

However, I wish Nara Rohit all the success in the future. Among all the new star-sons, this guy looks like a hero. We do not have to convince ourselves that he is a hero like how we are having to do with Ram Charan Tej and Naga Chaitanya. For a debut, Nara Rohit should have choosen a livilier project.

Mr. Inkenti’s Movienomics Verdict: Thumbs Down. I had high hopes on this one. The film just does not seem to take off; it just sits and does not do anything.

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1 Comment »

  1. Eswar said

    Yes, the movie disappoints but Chaitanya and the entire team need to be appreciated for a commendable work done. It’s a no-frills movie, definitely not in the same league as the many formulaic ones of late. The hero has a wonderful screen presence and the heroine is apt. I think the director wants to make a mark of his own ala RGV or a Quentin. The movie should have been more meaningful in the second half, but yes.. it delivers the message albeit partially. Let’s hope this neo-realism would be the most vouched for genre in days to come. And yes, to cater to Andhra audiences a healthy dose of commercial elements need to be injected in such kind of movies as well. All said, the review above, though spectacularly harsh can be toned down a bit. It needs to be viewed from the view-point of the entire team’s hard work rather than from a viewer’s perspective where it would be easy to deliver verdict.

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