ADVERTISEMENT
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi in&nbsp;<em>Love Story.</em></p></div>
i

Love Story Review: Not Like a Sekhar Kammula Film but That’s Still a Compliment

Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi give their best here. For the former, especially, this is one for the ages.

Published
Movie Reviews
4 min read

Love Story Review: Not Like a Sekhar Kammula Film but That’s Still a Compliment

There’s a telling scene in the latter half of Sekhar Kammula’s Love Story where an upper caste woman gives the Dalit protagonist, Revanth (Naga Chaitanya), used clothes when he pays a visit to her house. He doesn’t need charity – he doesn’t ask for it, but she thinks she’s doing him a favour by offering him clothes just because he’s a Dalit.

ADVERTISEMENT

Revanth can buy clothes for himself – he owns a fitness centre. And though he doesn’t swim in money, he knows he can make a living in a metropolitan city. There are many such little scenes that bring the reality of casteism to the fore and they’re all filled with darkness.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Naga Chaitanya as Revanth in&nbsp;<em>Love Story.</em></p></div>

Naga Chaitanya as Revanth in Love Story.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

After all, you don’t hear such conversations and confrontations in mainstream Telugu cinema every day. And when you run into them, you perch on them like a panda on a tree. Rangasthalam (2018) and Palasa 1978 (2020) have done this recently, but they’re both set in small towns. And, come to think of it, they’re period dramas. Isn’t casteism a demon even today?

Kammula, in an interview with The Hindu, talks about his social consciousness (as a filmmaker). He perhaps feels a certain kind of responsibility to explore the common problems that suffocate us. And that’s why he goes a long way from home with his latest romantic drama.

Love Story is a generic title. It doesn’t necessarily mean the love shared between Revanth and Mouni (Sai Pallavi). It goes beyond these two people and makes a comment on what’s happening amongst us – amongst the people of different castes, faiths, and classes. In India, caste is omnipresent. As Revanth angrily utters in the third act, even cemeteries belong to the ones who’re dominant.

Mouni, who’s born into an upper caste family, initially believes that working at a fitness centre may not be the right fit for her as she’s a graduate. There’s also this nagging concern in the pit of her mind that doesn’t allow her to take up jobs which her folks won’t be able to boast about. Her relatives, she argues, won’t be happy about her professional choices.

ADVERTISEMENT

Revanth, however, knows pretty surely that she can create magic on the dance floor. He can’t imagine her working in front of a computer. He knows her strengths and weaknesses. Oh, he doesn’t want to make a SWOT analysis. He just wants her to join his centre and lend him a helping hand. Although he’s a young man with many ideas, he sometimes struggles to come up with the right ones that’ll make his clients happy.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi dancing in&nbsp;<em>Love Story.</em></p></div>

Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi dancing in Love Story.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Mouni and Revanth are neighbours and that’s how they come across each other in the opening scenes. But once Kammula sets up their individual fears and apprehensions, he goes on to chart their shared journey for almost two hours.

These bits may also seem new to the viewers who’ve grown up watching and re-watching Anand (2004) and Godavari (2006) on television. Unlike the strong-willed protagonists of his previous movies, Mouni and Revanth are like clay. You can’t blame them entirely, for they were raised in such an environment.

When she inadvertently humiliates him by making a casteist remark, he takes it to heart. She later says she has no caste feelings, but she’s acutely aware of the place she comes from. She loves him dearly and wants to be with him, but she’s just not there yet – morally, speaking. She doesn’t look down upon him, but that’s the bare minimum amount of effort she puts in. She’ll probably learn to let go of her inbuilt biases slowly and that’s a positive sign. That said, it’s not his job to teach her what’s acceptable and what’s not.

While Kammula keeps making socially relevant points on one side, including sexual abuse, he forgets to highlight the ending stretch. A lot happens in the final ten minutes and before you even get to take a breather, the curtains come down. Love Story isn’t a truly hard-hitting drama – Saranga Dariya is a tiny example in that regard.

ADVERTISEMENT

I’m not saying a romantic film should definitely have a happy ending in which the protagonists get to enjoy a leisurely walk into the sunset. But you kind of expect the film’s knots to be untied in some manner. That doesn’t quite happen here and considering the stamp of the maker, the climactic resolution doesn’t seem to cut through the clamour.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi in&nbsp;<em>Love Story.</em></p></div>

Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi in Love Story.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Nevertheless, Chaitanya and Pallavi give their best here. For the former, especially, this is one for the ages. Don’t be surprised if they bag a few awards for their performances next year and, wow, what a riot the album has turned out to be – hats off to the composer, Pawan Ch, for keeping the energy alive from scratch to statue.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

ADVERTISEMENT
Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!
ADVERTISEMENT