Month of Madhu Review
Starring: Swathi Reddy, Naveen Chandra, Shreya Navile, Gnaneswari Kandregula, Raja Chembolu, Manjula Ghattamaneni, Harsha Chemudu and others
Director: Srikanth Nagothi
Producer: Yaswanth Mulukutla
Music Director: Achu Rajamani
Cinematographer: Rajeev Dharawath
Editor: Ravikanth Perupu
Month of Madhu director Srikanth Nagothi has used an anthology format to tell individual stories and establish the characters in the film that in addition to the two Madhus also – in fact is mostly about the emotional journey of Lekha (Swathi Reddy) and her coming to terms with the reality of her life – Rajeshwari Kalyanam
Madhumasam – or the month that marks the beginning of spring is associated with romance and love and in this case, it is also the story of Madhu – or rather two individuals whose name is Madhu. One is this angry man Madhusudhan Rao (Naveen Chandra), who in his own words chooses to stay unemployed, is easily angry, and is dealing with his wife filing for a divorce, and the only way he knows to do it is to drown his sorrows in a drink.
The other is this 19-year-old young girl Madhumati (Shreya Navile) on a short trip to India from the US. She is trying to find her identity and feels unloved while she is warm, instinctive, and playful. She chooses to stay back in Visakhapatnam for a month to get away from her mother who on the other hand is a perfectionist and Madhu feels she does not love her.
The director of the film Month of Madhu – Srikanth Nagothi has used an anthology format to tell individual stories and establish the characters in the film that in addition to the two Madhus also – in fact is mostly about the emotional journey of Lekha (Swathi Reddy) and her coming to terms with the reality of her life. For the past 20 years, she has been in a marriage, which she says had only her in it all along.
Madhu her husband is someone she had been loving so much that she forgets herself let alone loving herself. She always places Madhu’s preferences before hers and is always there to provide him with everything he needs, even before he asks, and one fine day she leaves the house. She does not blame Madhu for her decision to take a divorce and many amongst her family and friends dissuade her and fail to understand why she wants to separate.
And, that includes Madhu who keeps repeating the story of how one day he brings home a kilo of meat, looks for her, and realises she left home “Evariki Thelusu” is his common retort when someone asks him why she left him. Evidently, he feels he has done nothing wrong. Interestingly even Lekha agrees he hasn’t changed. But she says. “I have changed.’
This is a sensitive topic of toxic masculinity and lack of self-awareness in women very sensibly dealt with through some amazing acting by Naveen Chandra and Swathi and one is reminded she won the National Award for Acting for a reason.
The director with the help of some good editing almost managed to pull off the non-linear narration but for a few gaps in the story, and the pace, which at times is taxing while watching in theatre on the big screen. Perhaps it wouldn’t be an issue while watching on OTT, which is a more intimate affair.
In a bid to fit into cinematic imitations, the scenes and characters that bring in a variety of important emotional aspects of relationships are left half-baked for those invested in such films and hardly make an impact on the rest of the audience who hardly watch such films in theatres. For example, the episode where Madhumati’s cousin chooses to compromise with her groom’s drinking problem. This leaves the film wanting for just that bit of an edge – which would have elevated it. Women-oriented films hardly ever make it at the box office.
And, Month of Madhu at Heart is the story of women, and emotional baggage they deal with, and the complexity of relationships that impact them, not to mention the variety of feelings that affect women through every stage of their lives – body image issues, insecurity, craving for external validation, compromising on self-respect, lack of self-love, toxic masculinity, society’s expectations, and prejudices amongst others.
Month of Madhu is a film with a conscious soul that at the core of it is about women. The major plus of this film is the characters that are very relatable. In addition to the lead characters – the supporting cast, especially Harsha Chemudu make an impression.