30 weds 21: Redefining Telugu entertainment space on YouTube.

For once, I am over-whelmed by something that I have watched on YouTube! It is not a hyperbole, nor negative criticism. The content was so good that it has been haunting me for four weeks, and will continue to haunt for at least a month to come. I felt the same vibe when I have watched 'Mahanati' in theatre 2 years back. It was not only the riveting story of Savitri that got on to me, but the sheer art of story telling employed by the makers that mesmerized me. I also felt similar vibe while watching Bahubali: The Conclusion. Few moments in that movie still give me goosebumps. Then I understood that the success of any movie, series or digital content depends on its ability to get you thinking about it, even after you are done watching it. Recently, I have found one such gem on YouTube, 30 weds 21.

I always had a very bleak opinion on YouTube web series, let alone Telugu originals. After many suggestions, I watched 'Software Develoveper' starring Shanmukh Jashwanth. While the story got me hooked, I still felt that the taking was slightly raw and it could have been a little more polished. I am no nitpicker, but that was my overall opinion, and frankly, it left me wanting something more. A wholesome Telugu web-series with mature actors, natural performances, some stunning camera shots, a more polished and pleasing BGM, and mainly, a web-series which relies more on the story, and the contributing factors compliment it perfectly. (Few said that Surya was good, but I couldn't make it past the first 15 minutes.)

I had been following Chai Bisket closely since 2 years. My first love for them began with the short film 'Godarollu', which captured the eccentricities and beauty of the people and the landscape around the river Godavari in a very relatable manner. Being a native of West Godavari, I can confidently say that they have successfully captured the essence of Godavari people and the place in their frames. I subscribed to their channel on YouTube right after watching it and had been following them closely ever since. I cannot say that I have watched all their videos, but hey, I at least 'subscribed and hit the bell icon'!

Fast-forward two years. I was excited when I saw the title of their new web series and immediately started watching the first episode. I won't say that it blew me away, but it did get me hooked from the word go. I liked the pace and the tone of narrative that was set in the beginning itself. No fancy intros or irritating slow motion starts that capture the mannerisms of the protagonist. The couple meet, talk, get married and almost move in together by the end of the first episode. I appreciate the foresight of the makers here. Slow starts do not attract people (May be that was the issue with Surya for me). Start quickly, get people hooked on to, and then you have plenty of time to add layers to the narrative.

If you hate spoilers skip this paragraph. Here is a quick synopsis of what happened till now. Prudhvi, 30, male software employee (Chaitanya Rao) is in no mood to get married, while his parents use the ill health of his grandmother as a guise to get him married. They set up a meet-up (Pelli Choopulu) in the hospital itself, with Meghana, 21, B.Tech corona batch(Ananya). They have a small talk and the father asks Prudhvi to point one flaw in the girl except her age. Even as he could formulate a reply, the father presses the time-up buzzer and goes on to plan the wedding dates with the bride's family. The marriage is done in a wink, thanks to the pandemic and the thought process of makers, no wedding scenes are shown on screen. The point of conflict arises during their first night together, while the age gap starts glaring at them. What follows is a comical and emotional tale of a newly wedded couple, trying to avoid awkward encounters among themselves and with the outside world.

Trust me when I say this! This is one of the most beautifully crafted Telugu series on YouTube! Damn yes... I can't but appreciate kind of mature approach taken by the makers here. Rather than relying on the story or cast alone, the makers have managed to get some cool technician team on the board. Lets start with the cast. Chaitanya Rao... where were you were all this time? Just when we started to lose hope on fresh talent in YouTube content, you emerge out of no where and take the center stage. Seriously, he just sank into the skin of Prudhvi and so far his performances have been flawless. I like that tone that he adds to the character. Prudhvi is gentle, yet firm, sensitive yet stubborn, jovial yet serious and Chaitanya just breezes though this character. Ananya, I have no words for you! The meteorical raise in your Insta followers count talks about the craze that you have garnered through this series. You have truly taken the Telugu audience by storm, and we wish to see you more on main stream movies too. The chemistry among the lead pair talks more with looks and faces rather than with dialogues. Karthik, plays the quintessential IT colleague and neighbour roles and he provides ample laughter.

Let's come to the most fascinating aspect of this series, the one aspect that separates it from the routine content on YouTube, the technical departments. Oh! where do I start... all right! Let's talk about the story. Actually the plot line is wafer thin. Older man gets married to a younger woman and the impact of this relation on their lives. The way makers developed this thin plot into a web series is simply superb. It is actually so relatable. Imagine, if you would have graduated in 2010, the situation then was totally different. Facebook was the most popular social media platform, WhatsApp was just an year old and movies were watched offline in VLC media player and no ads on YouTube as far as I remember. 10 years down the line, boom! WhatsApp, Snapchat, Netflix, Prime, 4G, Jio, Spotify and un-skippable ads on YouTube(and YouTube Premium subscription to skip them!!!).. everything changed. The makers have paid attention to these glaring changes and subtly incorporated them into the mindsets of the lead pair. The BGM is just top notch! Right from 'Karthik Karthik' BGM to songs like Thom Tha Ra, the music department has done a splendid job. They relied on classical raagas to work the charm and sure it did pay off. Taking a stoic Raaga like Jog/Nattai and making a love song (Aakasham bhuvi paina valena) with it is a crazy idea and in the end, it just mesmerized me. Coming to direction and cinematography, again, it is so charming. It is no less than the main stream cinema. Actually, I daresay that main stream film makers can learn a lot like this. Few shots in the fourth episode just made me root for them in awe. Writing department deserves a bow, for writing such a clean and entertaining script with zero vulgarity. This series proves that you don't need some fancy budget, fantastic locations, stellar cast and crew to create some charming content. Raw talent and limited budget are also good enough if you have some creative minds with you.

I would like to end on that note. Wishing the team Chai Bisket and 30 weds 21 all the very best, we would love you to make more such sleekly made content and entertain us. If you haven't watched it yet, Kindly do watch in YouTube. #CTrecommends #30weds21 #Chaibisket

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