Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya movie review: Satya Dev shines In Venkatesh Maha’s heartwarming drama
Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya has a backdrop that’s rarely explored in Telugu cinema. It normalises the idea that heroism doesn’t have to be testimony of one’s masculinity.
Venkatesh Maha’s Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya, starring Satyadev, is the Telugu remake of an acclaimed Malayalam film, Maheshinte Prathikaram. In a nutshell, the film traverses the life of Mahesh, a photographer in a village and his vow to not wear slippers until he takes revenge on a stranger who humiliates him in front of everyone. But then, it’s not as easy as it seems because soon, Mahesh realises that he’ll have to wait longer to fulfil his goal. At each step, he’s tested by people and circumstances to see if he’ll break his oath or not.
It’s an unusual storyline for a remake in Telugu and it makes one wonder - “Where’s the conflict in the story?” and “What is the story trying to say?”
But when you look closer, almost every scene is telling you something about the protagonist and the subtle changes in his life that have a huge impact on him. The opening scene itself sets the tone for what you are about to see. Somewhere in Araku, Mahesh (Satyadev) is taking a dip in a stream near a waterfall. He cleans his slippers till they are spotless, and then, the narrative cuts into a song which encompasses Mahesh’s daily routine, the people he often comes across, and the day-to-day life in Araku. It doesn't take too long for us to realise that Mahesh is a simple guy, whose life is without any major drama, and he’s someone who’s likely to run away from a conflict if he sees one. It’s not just his slippers that he wants to keep clean, but he follows the same principle in his own life.
Beyond that defining moment in the film, where Mahesh is humiliated by a ruffian from another village, the story is filled with plenty of colourful characters who bring the rural milieu alive with their idiosyncrasies. Babji (Naresh), a bonesetter, is Mahesh’s well-wisher and confidant; Suhas (Suhas) is Babji’s assistant and befriends Mahesh soon after he arrives in Araku; couple of villagers whose fight over who is the caretaker of a farm becomes a turning point in the story; a bystander whose sarcastic remarks are amusing; Babji’s daughter who bunks school to go watch a movie...the list goes on. You don’t see these characters so often on screen, and Venkatesh Maha makes each one of them so endearing and real that they transport us to a different world altogether. The humour, the way people exchange glances, and above all, the turmoil that Mahesh himself seems to go through...it’s all beautifully captured.
There is hardly anything heroic about the protagonist in a conventional sense. After all, Mahesh is a good man and like the act of cleaning his slippers in the beginning of the story, Mahesh cleanses his soul through the course of the film, which allows him to become a better and a happier person. That’s the story that Uma Maheshwara Ugra Roopasya tells us at some level. The act of revenge helps him bring closure to a bad patch in his life, but Mahesh doesn’t let it define his personality, except that he stands by his oath of not wearing footwear.
Venkatesh Maha has a unique voice and he doesn’t succumb to the temptation of making this story too dramatic for the Telugu audience. Probably. The story grows on you slowly, making you smile at little joys in Mahesh’s life, and cherish the ending.
The film truly belongs to Satyadev, whose endearing performance as Mahesh leaves a long-lasting impression. He brings so much humaneness to the character that you forget about everything else when he’s on screen. His love stories feel more personal, and the film does a great job in exploring the man-woman dynamics in a relationship. Then, there’s Suhas who stands out with his comic-timing, and he doesn’t go overboard or try too hard to be witty.
Appu Prabhakar’s cinematography is beautiful and captures the many shades of Araku and music composer Bijibal’s work compliments the storytelling really well, without ever overpowering it. At a runtime of 136 minutes, Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya packs in plenty of humour; it's a pleasant drama with a backdrop that’s rarely explored in Telugu cinema. It normalises the idea that heroism doesn’t have to be testimony of one’s masculinity. Sometimes, it could just be the act of not wearing slippers unless you learn to stand up for yourself.
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