Srinivasa Kalyanam movie review: This wedding film sacrifices drama for the sake of tradition
Nithiin and Raashi Khanna-starrer Srinivasa Kalyanam begins with a voiceover, rendered by actor Venkatesh, where the importance of marriage is underlined since the time of Lord Rama and Krishna. And thus, we are slowly introduced to the saga of Vasu (Nithiin) and Sree (Raashi) in the 21st century, where the importance of a wedding and marriage as an institution has diminished considerably.
Directed by Satish Vegesna, the film tries to make an earnest appeal to the viewers to not forget our culture and traditions, especially when it comes to weddings. But 140 minutes, three weddings, and endless lecturing about traditions later, it makes you wonder if Srinivasa Kalyanam deserved a better treatment to drive the point home. There are no two ways about it: this is a boring film, and for some reason, it doesn’t draw a line between its message and drama.
Right in the beginning of the film, Vasu’s grandmother (Jayasudha) tells him that a wedding is not an event, it’s a festival, which comes only once in a lifetime. And as Vasu grows up to become the personification of uttama purush, he does everything which others take for granted, for his doting family. This includes updating them about everything that’s happening in his life in Chandigarh, calling his family twice a day, because there’s a great logic behind it. One fine day, Sree (Raashi) walks into his life and soon, Sree falls in love so much with Vasu that she changes his name to ‘My Heart’ in her caller’s list. If that wasn’t corny enough, Vasu tells her, “You have changed my name to ‘My Heart’ in your phone, but you are literally in ‘my heart’ right now.” This is just a sample of the love story between the lead pair in this film which tries extra hard to be sweeter than pootharekulu (a traditional Andhra sweet). But wait…this is just the beginning of the world that Srinivasa Kalyanam introduces us to and the rest of the story is - “What to do in a traditional Andhra wedding?”
A film which explores the theme of an Indian wedding is fertile ground for an emotional outburst or dramatic confrontations between different characters. But Srinivasa Kalyanam bypasses this route completely and instead focuses on traditions and the importance of celebrating a wedding like a beautiful moment in one’s life. This is great content for a TED Talk or a podcast, where someone like Chaganti Koteswara Rao can explain you in glorious detail the meaning behind following certain customs during a wedding. But does it have enough drama to be a film? Perhaps, not. The only character who seems to be well fleshed out is played by Prakash Raj, who’s Raashi’s father in the film. He’s a hotshot businessman, who has no time for anything. But a confrontation with Nithiin forces him to change his ways, which is also the film’s biggest payoff. Ironically, it’s not even the wedding that stands out in the film, but the image of a man who realises how he has neglected his family all his life.
The writing is abysmal in the initial portions of the film, and the romantic track between the lead pair is poorly written. Sree falls head over heels for Vasu in such a short span of time that it makes you wonder if love is indeed blind. If their love story doesn’t put you to sleep already, Satish desperately tries to keep the proceedings interesting by writing 20th century jokes about a character’s obsession with food. It’s a pity that a fine comedian like Vidyu Raman has to be relegated to such roles, and it’s about time, writers and directors put an end to writing such silly segments for her. The only comedy track which will make you giggle involves Satyam Rajesh and Hari Teja. Nandita Sweta makes a decent impression although there’s no novelty about her characterisation as well.
And then, there are the veterans, led by Jayasudha, Rajendra Prasad, Naresh, Sitara, Aamani, and Prakash Raj. When they aren’t used as props to fill up the frame, they literally hold the film together with their screen presence. But after a moment, you can pretty much guess that the moment it’s their turn to speak, they’ll go into preaching mode. This is also a film where the entire second half feels like a montage sequence. Nobody can guess why the lead character, played by Nithiin, doesn’t quite reflect the angst and confusion that he ought to go through when he signs a document. That is the film’s USP, and no one cares about it, until the very end.
Srinivasa Kalyanam also tries to desperately redefine Nithiin’s image. He plays a soft-spoken young man, whose wisdom is truly a gift from God. But by turning him into such a dormant character, the writer and the director of Srinivasa Kalyanam strips some much-needed enthusiasm from the film itself. There’s hardly a scene in the film where the lead characters rise above the shallow writing, and even when they do, the emphasis on tradition gets on to your nerves. Even Raashi has an underwritten role, and it’s not her fault or Nithiin’s why the first half turns out to be so dull.
It’s one thing to make an earnest attempt to convey a good message to the audience, but Srinivasa Kalyanam finds itself in a different zone. Here, the message is treated with so much devotion that it becomes more important than storytelling and drama in the story. If you have attended a traditional wedding, two things are likely to happen - 1) If you are part of the family, it’s great fun and hectic. 2) If you have no connection to either of the families, chances are that you’ll start feeling restless after a point. Srinivasa Kalyanam is like going to a wedding where you don’t know either the bride or the groom’s family, but you just go there because it’s a wedding and it’s your duty to attend it and bless the couple. And the moment you step out, you just simply forget what you have seen and move on in life.
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Updated Date: Aug 09, 2018 17:48:29 IST