The beginning could have been racier, the end could have been crispier – but that does not lessen the effect this movie had on me. Pure undiluted love, simple people, simple expectations out of life, natural love for family, and above all characters straight out of life. Sekhar Kammula’s Telugu film ‘Fidaa’ has many reasons to be Fidaa over.
Heroine Sai Pallavi – The critic hiding in every Telugu movie audience immediately tries to find fault with her Telangana accent which she seems to have worked hard enough to have managed to pull it off with just a miss here and there notwithstanding. Here
is a charming heroine that both men and women relate to; not out of the shop window mannequin – so perfect that you can only aspire longingly but knowing fully well the impossible nature of the aspiration; those picture perfect faces that can fit only to be in dreams. Bhanumathi is real and that grows on you as the film progresses and the ease with which she portrays her character is extremely charming. And You are charmed! No wonder, you have audience promptly changing their profile pics to that of a heroine’s chappal – an important part of the film and Sai Pallavi. (No Spoiler Here). Who would have thought footwear would trend on social media.
Varun Tej – If we leave the fanatic fan culture behind. Here’s one actor who would like to experiment with genres, and is not afraid to act in a film that is so heroine oriented (especially with Sekhar Kammula and his penchant for strong women characters). He is heroic in his own quiet way, endearing, tall and handsome, and holds his own through out the film. He makes you pine with him, love with him and cry with him. And if boys are going gaga over Sai Pallavi, do not fret ladies – you have tall and handsome Varun Tej.
Saichand as father: Much acclaimed actor, who has acted with some of the best names in parallel cinema, and is known for his supporting roles in films like “Manchupallaki” and “Shiva” wasn’t seen for a while in Telugu cinema. He makes for a refreshing change in the role of a father. Saichand has always been a cool, subdued actor, never over the top in his performance, and in this movie he plays an important role (even though the scope is less) in his effortless style and Telangana dialect comes as second nature to him.
The other new actors locally sourced: The good-natured aunt and her innocence, the best friend and other friends straight out of your neighbourhood, and the must mention sister Sharanya, and our very own Satyam Rajesh who never fails to bring a smile and not to forget the cute little boy who plays brother to Varun – the casting couldn’t have been more perfect.
Showcase of traditions: Even while maintaining a modern look – director used various scenes to showcase local rituals and celebrations in Telangana milieu. The dialect is native and natural using locally popular slangs and phrases – three cheers for the dialogue writer – and a clap of appreciation to the director who seamlessly interweaved the way of life of the land into the script with all honesty. This movie is no lip service to Telangana. Loved the fact that he didn’t run off to Godavari district for locations – Bhanswada, Nizamabad district is shown in all its visual splendour.
Introducing commercial elements without losing sensibilities: A tough call that Sekhar Kammula almost achieved.
Music: Shaktikanth. Who is this guy? He knows the way into music lovers’ hearts. The songs just grow on you steadily and then take over the control of your brain. Lilting, musically rich, melodious, racy, fun…I liked all the songs – ‘Vachinde’; ‘Oosupodu’ etc. I especially loved the way music director mixed the old melody ‘Parugulu Teeyali Oh Gittalu Urakalu Veyali’ – a mind-blowing tribute to the classic in the form of ‘Hey Pillagada’. A promising composer indeed.
Bhanumathi: I am a big fan of the classic ‘Old is Gold’ film ‘Malleswari’. And after listening to the song that draws so much from the classic song sung by the yesteryear singer, actor Bhanumathi, and looking at the bubbly, yet no-nonsense heroine of ‘Fidaa’, one cannot help but wonder if Sekhar Kammula’s Bhanumathi is indeed a take off from the old heroine and her role in the legendary film, ‘Malleswari’.
Social Issues that don’t appear so on the face of it, yet make a statement: The beautiful villages of India, importance of agriculture, love for native land, agriculture versus industrialisation of agricultural lands, women’s right to choose, are among the many that are weaved into the story – issues important to the society, yet that usually have no place in commercial cinema.
Rich in emotions: Cinema is a medium that takes you away from your daily routine, entertains you with drama, emotions, and entertainment – ‘Fidaa’ is heavy on drama, emotion and nostalgia, yet does not over do it, and you leave the theatre with a heavy heart with all the emotions you have experienced.
Sekhar Kammula’s brand of romance: He is too good at recreating romance in its best form, be it any film. ‘Fidaa’ in particular is a love story, hence there is no stopping him. And, with a lead pair like Sai Pallavi and Varun Tej – he had actors with no hang-ups, or preconceived image, and the young pair hit it off from the word go.
Breaking Stereotypes: Telugu cinema has a defined portrait of how a heroine should be, of the sister, friends, especially if it’s a commercial cinema. Seems like Sekhar loves to break rules. And you see much proof to this trait of his in the film.
Dialogues: Mastugunnayi! And that goes not just for dialogues between the lead pair – laced with humour, emotion and romance.
In short, the Dil Raju production, ‘Fidaa’ is all about moments that tug at your heart, endearing and Sekhar Kammula’s to the core; and makes you want to fall in love all over again.