First things first, I haven't watched the original Maheshinte prathikarine by Faahad Faasil. So, I would be reviewing Umamaheshwara Ugraroopasya (UMUR) devoid of pre conceived notions. I wanted to mention this upfront because I will not be drawing any comparisons with the original and that might affect my judgement of this movie.
Director - Venkatesh Maha
Starring - Satyadev, Naresh, Roopa, Chandana, and Suhas
Language - Telugu
Streaming on - Netflix
Did this ever happen to you guys? For no fault of yours, you are at the receiving end of a chain reaction of angry emotions. It's happened to me enough no of times and I have observed this happening to others as well a no of times. Now if you tell me that a movie can be made on this, I would say it's doable but hard. But, Venkatesh Maha does it with ease, elegance and humor.
This movie is pretty close to the sensibilities of Venkatesh Maha's first outing c/o kancherapalam. Hence you see complete naturality and honesty in every aspect of filmmaking. Starting from the language, background score, locations, costumes, and a lot of village folks acting. This integrity and choices of the lead cast including the two female leads bind the soul of the movie and keep it intact though the plot line is thin and not so gripping.
Mahesh is a photographer and he takes care of his father with utmost love and care. He is in a long distance relationship with his childhood crush and just a phone conversation makes the entire love track so cute and adorable. As mentioned earlier, for no fault of his he gets beaten black and blue in front of others. This incident acts as a trigger for the Ugra Roopam of Uma Mahesh ( played with charm and grace by Satyadev). The rest of the story forms his revenge is what I thought, but thats the beauty of Malayalam cinema. The story takes a complete different yet beautiful route post this incident but completes the arc, not so satisfyingly but a decent finish.
The dialogues are steeped in the coastal Andhra diction and my favorites are these two
Shavaniki maatrame noppi undadu, jeevam unnantha kaalam noppi untundhi ( Only dead bodies don't experience pain, as long as there is life, there is pain)
Ee maga mundakodukaliki aavesham, kopam thappa burra undadu kada ( Men mostly exhibit anger than intelligence)
These two possibly describe the entire movie and the main characters.
There is a scene where we see a subtle romance between the hero and his love interest when the final rites of her grandad are being performed. It might sound odd and cruel but trust me it's so beautiful to watch it on the screen. The background score and visuals will make you root for it and the entire movie just breezes past like a gush of cool wind. And then there is a brilliant photography sequence in the second half that just shows how good the director and his writing is.
The main asset of this movie is it's casting and each character was performed with such honesty. Naresh as babji, Suhas as Suhas give you regular doses of village comedy born out of situations and intelligent screenplay. Hari Chandana as Swathi and Roopa as Jyoti are a treat to watch. Special mention to Roopa, her expressions, grace, and dance moves are sure to floor you.
All said and done, I just liked the film and it's not awesome. Mainly because of a different filmmaking school of thought that I come from. But definitely it's worth watching with your entire family for Venkatesh Maha and the brilliant acting by the entire cast. Hope that we see more and more new age filmmakers breathing a fresh air of stories and storytelling in Telugu cinema.