Cinema Bandi movie review: Praveen Kandregula directorial, backed by Raj & DK, is a charming ode to filmmaking
Through a deceptively simple narrative, Praveen Kandregula wants his audience to see that the whole point of cinema is about making dreams come true, no matter how small or big they seem.
castVikas Vashista, Sandeep Varanasi, Trishara, Rag Mayur, Uma Yg
Praveen Kandregula’s Cinema Bandi, produced by Raj & DK, is a kaleidoscope of what cinema stands for. The story follows the journey of how Veerababu, an auto driver from a remote village, ends up making a feature film. This sounds simplistic, but Praveen weaves a wonderful commentary about why Veerababu wants to make a feature film in the first place and how he discovers that it’s easier said than done. And in doing so, Praveen urges us to see what the whole point of cinema is. It’s about dreams and making those dreams come true, no matter how small or big they seem.
We are told that Veerababu’s seemingly ordinary life in a village, located near Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border, turns upside down when he chances upon an expensive camera in his auto. He wants to do something good for his village and change his own life, and he sincerely believes that making a film will earn him a ticket to prosperity. Before he knows it, he’s both the producer and director of the film, and he puts together a crew and cast from his own village, even though no one believes in his ideas.
Praveen draws wonderful parallels throughout the story. Veerababu’s journey mimics the footsteps of every other filmmaker, who discovers that they have something unique to share, and how they innovate and improvise to make up for the lack of big-budget or resources. There’s a hilarious sequence where Veerababu and his friends try convincing Manga (played by Uma YG) to play the heroine’s role in the film, but she rejects their offer without second thoughts. In another scene, Veerababu and Ganapathi discover that the scene continuity is going completely haywire, which forces them to start from scratch again.
Yet, Cinema Bandi is not just about the film which Veerababu wants to make. Although the proceedings are centred around the protagonist’s tryst with filmmaking, Praveen Kandregula gives us a sense of life in a village. There’s nothing quite exciting or extraordinary about Gollapally, the village where the story unfolds. Ganapathi himself is largely content with being, perhaps, the only photographer in his area. Perhaps, Veerababu too would have repaid his loans in due course of time. But the thought of making a film changes Veerababu’s life. He begins to dream of a better life for himself and for those around him. Cinema is a mere catalyst. Cinema Bandi oscillates between these two aspects in the story, thus emphasising the notion that success, at least for Veerababu, lies in completing what he set out to do irrespective of its fate in the end.
Among the actors, Uma YG is consistently good in the film, and so is Rag Mayur, who plays Maridesh Babu, who impresses you with his small-town charm. Trishara, who plays Divya, leaves a mighty good impression with her performance. And then, there are the two lead actors, Vikas Vasishta as Veerababu, and Sandeep Varanasi as Ganapathi, who anchor the film with their sincerity and innocence. They not only support each other, but genuinely believe that their film is going to make them famous. Cinema Bandi is so rooted in its milieu that it’s not hard to empathise with the characters. The credit goes to the film’s writers, Vasanth Marigenti, Krishna Pratyusha, and Praveen himself.
This is an indie film that stays so true to its characters and the world that it explores that it leaves a positive vibe even when some of its subplots, like the search for the camera, don’t quite hold well. Praveen Kandregula turns the act of making a film into a framework to connect people to dream a common dream. Veerababu sets out to change his world in the beginning of the film. And in doing so, he becomes an unlikely hero, who never gives up. Isn’t that what defines a filmmaker too?
Cinema Bandi is now streaming on Netflix India
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