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<i>Aravindha Sametha</i> is the first time Nandamuri Tarak and writer/director Trivikram have come together.

Aravindha Sametha Review: Death Wears Denim and Resurrects a Genre

I watched NTR Jr’s Aravindha Sametha and came out crying; Good or Bad? Here’s the review.

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Movie Reviews
4 min read

Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava

Aravindha Sametha Review: Death Wears Denim and Resurrects a Genre

There’s a genre of films that’s unique to Telugu cinema - Faction.

It’s all about the bloodlust between two (or more) caste factions, set in the rural hinterlands of Andhra Pradesh / Telangana. The bloodlust spans generations and the gore fills the screen. A hero who stars in a faction film is a hero who has arrived.

Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava, is writer/director Trivikram’s take on the genre. For the first time, he collaborates with Nandamuri Tarak (NTR Jr) to deliver what can only be described as the first woman oriented faction movie. The women in question here are Pooja Hegde and Supriya Pathak.

Do the women hold their own? Does the movie work? Here’s my review.

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Tarak and Trivikram Resurrect a Genre

Trivikram takes a huge risk with Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava. The film begins with all of the familiar tropes that audience would expect from a ‘faction’ film: An important death followed by a bloody, beautifully choreographed revenge by the hero. This is followed by the hero in hiding sequence wherein a comedy-romance with the heroine unfolds.

But then all of this is done with even before the end of the first half. The rest of the film is surprisingly about how Veera Raghava (Tarak) tries to bring about an end to the endless bloodlust.

An extremely risky proposition in a masala flick that usually panders to the audience’s instant blood-sex-comedy fixes.

Subtleties That the Audience Gets

It is time for Raghava to take his father’s corpse home. He sits next to him in the car, reins in a deep sob, fastens the seatbelt over his father’s body and drives home. The grandmother laments:

‘Lord! So many deaths, and so few tears!’

For the first time in the genre, both Trivikram and Tarak (through his understanding of the character), bring in nuance. More than the war itself, it’s the aftermath that the narrative handles. The sorrow, loss and the need for a solution to the bloodshed.

And here’s where Pooja Hegde and Supriya Pathak come in. The preachiness of a prepared monologue that miraculously convinces an entire village to drop arms, is thankfully missing.

Nandamuri Tarak and Pooja Hegde in <i>Aravindha Sametha </i>Veera Raghava.
Nandamuri Tarak and Pooja Hegde in Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava.

Tarak’s character finds solutions to his inner turmoil and to the situation in his village through random conversations with Aravindha, played by Pooja Hegde, who’s a student of social sciences. With a specialisation in ‘solutions to factionalism’!

Because Aravindha (Pooja Hegde) studies the subject, everything she says seems to find resonance with Veera Raghava. Her intuitive knowledge drives his decisions.
The premise is beautiful.

While Supriya Pathak is named as part of the main cast, it’s Easwari Rao who steals the show. With barely a few minutes of screen time, she lives and breathes as the wife of the nemesis, played deliciously by Jagapathi Babu. Everything she does or says, even if it be a sentence, feels authentic. It’s impossible to spot the makeup or the ‘performance’.

Dialects, Dialogues, Direction

The Rayalaseema dialect is hard to follow, harder to get right. But listen to even a sentence and you get the smell of rare rain, ‘sangati’ and the slap of naked truth. It’s impossible to say anything coated or roundabout in this dialect.
To be able to write in it (half of the dialogues in the film are in this dialect) takes skill. Trivikram excels in it, since his usual style of dialogue writing is itself spartan and minimalist.

“The value of what is said rises, based on who says it and when.”

“Death is what you fear. It is Death who speaks to you now. Eventually, it is death that you will beg for.”

As per usual, Tarak gets the slang bang on. As does Jagapathi Babu, although he adds his own unmistakable drawl to it. Those who have dubbed for Supriya and the other women too have done a brilliant job. It is almost music to the ears.

Thaman’s Instant Tunes

If you haven’t listened to the item numbers in Dookudu and Osthe, you should. They’re what Hindi songs aspire to be. That being said, Thaman has given deeply moving songs in this film. That his compositions are rhythm heavy is an advantage here, thanks to the rusticity of the plot line.

Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava begins with a song of mourning, featuring verses by Seetharama Sastri (legend, officially) and Penchal Das, who hails from a dying breed of composer-singers of rural music. It reminds one of the need to truly mourn the passing of someone. The music and lyrics are inseparable.

So too with the other songs. Especially ‘Penimiti’ (husband), a wife’s lament of longing for the husband who works as a hired assassin. This is sung with surprising depth by Kaala Bhairava (s/o Keeravani, composer for Bahubali). Why a male sings a wife’s song, is something you need to watch the film to find out.

It is impossible to watch Aravindha Sametha Veera Raghava without the news of Tarak’s personal loss nagging at you in the background. He lost his father in a car crash while the film was still being made. That this is the first film in which he lights the funeral pyre of an on-screen father, seems to be cathartic serendipity.

Aravindha Sametha puts the woman’s intuitive wisdom and natural ability to nurture, before and ahead of the masculine. It will surprise you, engage you through and through, and occasionally, render you speechless.

  • Rating: 4 Quints out of 5

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