October is turning out to be a fabulous month for movies! As a major Jr.NTR fan, I went to see his latest movie Oosaravelli at the Wednesday night Premier show in Minneapolis. Even though it was the middle of the work week there was no way I was going to miss the first day first show! It was early enough that there were no reviews or movie synopsis for me to rely on but I think I managed following the plot just fine.
This movie was really different than a typical NTR vehicle..in fact it was anything but typical. Major kudos have to go to Tarak for having the confidence and generosity to choose a story that gives such a prominant role to the heroine and shares some of the biggest .laughs with the supporting cast.
Tarak's charactor Tony is an unpredictable street thug. He meets Niharika, played by Tamannah, when he rescues her from terrorists in Kashmir. He falls in love with her and pursues her but is thwarted when he learns she has a fiance named Rakesh. Most of the comedy in the first half is from Tony's interactions with Raghu Babu and his motley gang of rowdies. Eventually Tony meets Sarkar a low level mafia Don played by Jaya Prakash Reddy and from what I could tell without subs it seemed like he was using first Raghu Babu's gang, then Sarkar's connections to get to the real bad guys. Unfortunelty for Niharika, her fiance Rakesh was one of the really really bad guys. When Niharika realizes Rakesh is a criminal she suddenly decides she loves Tony instead. But for some reason Tony avoids all her calls, instead he kills off all the bad guys at the interval fight. All of them, or so I thought.. The second half brings in the real villain Azzu Bhai, played by Prakash Raj and in a flash back you find out what the connection is between Tony's apparent change in feelings for Naharika and what the connection is between Tony, Niharika and Azzu Bhai.
The flashback is all Tamannah's and it really shows her acting talent. The scene where she meets Tony and begs him for help is very moving. Both of them gave excellent performances and the sight of her clinging to his leg as he drags her through the mud is unforgettable.
Tamannah's role is such a departure. Most of the Telugu films I have seen under utilize (that's putting it mildly) the heroine. In fact it is common for the heroine to disapear completely in the second half or to only show up just before the songs come on. The phenomona of the "disapearing heroine" is one of the quirks of Telugu films that non-Telugu people like me find most perplexing. Oosaravelli proves that having a strong female role adds so much potential and depth to the story that I hope in future film makers will use heroines for more than just titilation.
Besides Tamannah, another female actress, Payal Ghosh had a substantial part as Niharika's friend Chitra. She had some powerful scenes with both Tarak and Prakash Raj. The script also allowed her a chance at comedy too.
Another thing that was unusual with Oosaravelli was the pacing of the songs. I have gotten used to the first song being a hero introduction song that establishes the heroic qualities of the lead. But the first song (Brathakali) was a duet between Tarak and Tamannah. I loved the picturization and was surprised it wasn't the usual type of opening song.
Then the second song was another duet called Nenante Naaku. I love the melody of this song and it is my favorite from the album. But surprise surprise the third song was another duet! Devi Sri Prasads music is really good but the choreography for Tarak's duets in all his movies are pretty much always the same moves. Tarak is such a delight to watch dancing I was begining to wonder when a fullout dance number would start. Finally Dandiya India came on just before the set up for the interval bang and Yay! Tarak dancing at his best and choreography that does justice to his talent!
I loved the picturization of Sri Anjanayam even though Tarak didn't dance and Yalango Yalango was fun too. Once again Tamannah got more screen time and was the focus of the Niharika song.
All in all Oosaravelli was a nice departure from the usual hero centered formula. I saw an interview Tarak did after Brindavanam where he indicated he had a specific plan to move himself beyond his usual mass roles and that Brindavanam was the first step. Oosaravelli proves he is headed in the right direction!