Tholiprema movie review: Varun Tej, Raashi Khanna starrer is not just a love story, it's an experience
Venky Atluri's terrific debut feature Tholiprema is a romance drama that is bound to fill you with joy.
In Varun Tej, Raashi Khanna starrer Tholiprema, there’s a constant reference to chocolate, which serves as a motif to compare the conflicting personalities of the lead characters. The girl loves it, but the guy hates it. But if you are a sucker for chocolate, then it’s almost like a spiritual experience which fills your mind and heart with joy. For that moment, at least, you forget about everything and you just relish it. By the time the aftertaste is gone, you begin craving for it once again because chocolate can be addictive. In a lot of ways, romance too is like relishing chocolate. You know what it tastes like, but you keep craving for it time and again. Moments after watching Tholiprema, it reminded me of a mouth-watering dessert named Choco Lava Cake. Once you dig in, there’s no way you stop yourself from falling in love with it — the film — I mean.
Love stories pose a unique problem — it’s almost always the same story where boy-meets-girl, they fight, and then they reunite in the end (or they don’t, in some cases). It’s hard to break away from the template or so it seems. Tholiprema, written and directed by newcomer Venky Atluri, too sticks to the same template of a quintessential love story, but then it catches you off-guard. Yes, I knew how the story was going to turn out, evolve, and end. Yet, I couldn’t help myself from being swept away into the whirlpool of emotions that the film stirred so poignantly. To call Tholiprema a film would be kind of unfair. It’s an experience that needs to be absorbed frame by frame, scene after scene. Its USP lies in how easily Venky Atluri sets up a scene, which might seem simple, but he takes each one of them to unexpected corners, which haven’t been explored in Telugu cinema in a long time.
This is a film where the guy, Aditya (Varun Tej) is quite impulsive. He is only interested in 'Yes' or 'No', no matter what life has in store for him. His romantic interest Varsha (Raashi Khanna) is a lot more mature. She firmly believes in a lot of ‘maybe(s)’ in life. The clash of their personalities becomes the undercurrent of the film and they constantly keep going back and forth over who's right. However, Venky Atluri is smart enough to not turn the tale into a battle of sexes, a format which has ruined many love stories in the past. Aditya has a lot of anger in him and he has his reasons, and Varsha is unconditionally pragmatic, who’s not afraid to speak up. It's surreal to see such characters inhabit the same realm where female characters are rarely given their due. This alone is a good enough reason to understand why Tholiprema sets itself apart from the clutter of most mundane romantic films.
In most cases, with some effort, you can separate each strand of a scene to figure out why it works or doesn’t work. In a film like Tholiprema, where it’s hard to find even a single loose strand, it’s a near impossible task. Quite rarely do we see a film where writing is pitch perfect. Even the lilting music and stunning visuals add life to each scene. Varun Tej and Raashi Khanna share a dazzling chemistry throughout the film. There’s a scene that’s set inside a car, when the duo share their first kiss. If that doesn’t make you smile, then I don’t know what will. There’s another scene where the two characters debate about their approach to a small misunderstanding. If that doesn’t make you emotional, then I don’t know what will.
The first half, in particular, is a joy to watch with Venky Atluri unleashing one scene after another which sparkles with life. Whether it’s the first time Aditya spots Varsha in his college, or the way Venky leads us to understand Aditya’s anger, everything brims with so much energy that it’s refreshing to watch in a Telugu film. On top of it, Varun and Raashi left me short of words to describe how well they have gotten into the skin of their characters. If this is what they can offer us with Tholiprema, then there’s no reason for any writer or director to not pitch more complex roles for them in future. Just when you are about to come to terms with what the lead actors's performances, Thaman enters the ring like ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin and delivers a ‘stunner’ to each one of us. His work in Tholiprema is undoubtedly one of the best things to have happened in his career. And cinematographer George C Williams perfectly complements a beautiful love story with his gorgeous colour palettes.
The trick to falling madly, deeply in love with Tholiprema boils down to a very simple task - Keep your ego aside. Surprised? It goes without saying that when we watch any film, you are playing a small game with the director subconsciously. We brush aside films which doesn’t appeal to our sensibilities or taste. We don’t want to let go off our control over the ebb and flow of our emotions, because that would mean that you are losing the battle with the director. But you know what…for once, none of this mattered to me. For once, I kept my ego aside and what happened next was totally worth it. I fell in love with Tholiprema. It’s the kind of love story that made me fall in love with the whole genre of romance again. Two big thumbs up for Venky Atluri for his terrific debut and a big thank you for making film that filled me with so much joy.
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