Trivikram Srinivas’s Agnyaathavaasi (2018) Movie Review
Movie Review: Agnyaathavaasi
Star Cast: Pawan Kalyan, Anu Emmanuel, Keerthy Suresh, Aadhi Pinisetty, Kushboo, Parag Tyagi, Rao Ramesh, Murali Sharma, Ajay, Sameer, Anirudh Ravichander and Venkatesh Daggubati.
Music Composed by Anirudh Ravichander
Cinematography by V Manikandan
Directed by Trivikram Srinivas
Censor Certificate: UA & Runtime: 158 Minutes
In a perfect world of a filmmaker, we get to see the rules of the world, society, and characters seem to be sticking to those rules and give you an idea of what the world is and why characters behave in such way. The basic principles of that world make us believe in the premise and the stakes. Hence, even it says 2015 or 2017 or 2001, we don’t really care about what are the nuances the art director sets up to make us believe, rather we get invested so much into the world and in characters, that we think it is flawless. That doesn’t always be true because sometimes, makers take that make-believe to such ridiculous heights that we disconnect with it instinctively. The main reason, these days, we seem to have suddenly fallen out of love of Trivikram’s films because of that. [Well, those who have loved Manmadhudu, they will feel a sort of disconnect in Malliswari and those who enjoyed Athadu, will not be similarly in love with the village of A..Aa]
The thing, Trivikram Srinivas became guruji not because of his looks or his ability to lecture at length about the deep inner meaning of life or his orating skills. His wise words showcase and represent a world that is close to us, that we feel belong to us. It can be as High-class society as Manmadhudu or as middle-class as Chirunavvutho or as the mixed bag as Nuvvu Naaku Nacchav and a collision as Athadu. The worlds seem believable. The characters seem to be real as they have real problems even in an unrealistic setting. Even a simple comic character has a story of his own like in real life, and that wisdom shines through the pen of Trivikram, even though it seems like ‘certain Trivikram is trying to be that guy’. It all relates and connects and gives the story a purpose. Otherwise, a simple one line like Swayamvaram, a re-telling of rich and poor divide story in the society in Manmadhudu and Nuvvu Naaku Nacchav, Chirunavvutho won’t be so real.
It feels like this guy gets you, understands you and tells you with the examples of the stories you know. Stories you hear from a young age. So, he is GURUJI. Well, but that guy seems to be vanishing in the safe bet palace and he is ridiculing himself so naked, that people might start feeling sympathy and disgust towards him at the same time. Sympathy because of the pressure and exceptions load he has to carry and disgust because of the epic failures that he is coming up with these days. Again, box office is not the focus and if, box office is the focus may be no director is as great as S.S. Rajamouli or Boyapati Srinu as they have developed into minimum guarantee safe bet directors. Trivikram Srinivas is never viewed like that and maybe that is causing this extreme reaction whenever he fails to get the mix right.
You may argue hundred times that this film is just another copy and it is Largo Winch (2008) re-told. Well, when you see closely, the story is as old as movies itself. Haven’t you heard Krishna growing up in Yashoda’s place even though he is Devaki’s son? Haven’t you heard about Pandavas going into hiding and save themselves from Kauravas due to their evil plans? Is being in exile, so new point that we have to say this is a copy of only Largo Winch? It might be a copy or not, but the movie definitely has the correlation from the mythology and also, the said French film. Throwing that out of the equation, let’s see what really Trivikram set out to tell with Agnyaathavaasi.
The universe will always have a Plan B for you and you just need to be the right person, who could be the Plan A, that works or Plan B that saves the day. With that being the crux of many stories, this commercial film tried to undercook and at the same time overcook few traits that we loved. Pawan Kalyan is definitely a lovable actor but is he just an actor who can be feminine, borderline gay on screen? Is he just that actor who can only react in a certain way to a certain situation that his skills are limited to being just that one character? Well, maybe or may not be. We will never have a definitive answer until he comes out of those tried and tested clichés. He is no longer 28 or 35, to attract the young audience with those dances or shyness. He has aged and that is visible too. Just from 2013 to 2018, he has aged much more than we can imagine earlier. So, trying to show in a certain way that worked at a certain time even though that is what his fans wish, does that sit well with your story?
Just because it is PSPK playing, does he need to be a guy borderline crazy and highly unpredictable in every film? With no set definitions in Trivikram’s world that he created in Agnyathavaasi, we fail to understand that. We fail to connect with that. At the superficial level, we can understand the relations he has but at a subjective and connectivity level, we are as distanced as an Indian team from Test series victory Overseas. It comes once in a while and that’s why it is special. Attharintiki Daredi was special because, even though we see it is PSPK as Gautam Nanda, Trivikram took us into the world of Gautam and managed to let us connect with him at superficial level and some part of it, at ground level too.
But the same is not the case with Abhishiktha Bhargav. He is cleverly named after Krishna so that he can easily accept Yashoda and Yashoda can easily love him and wait for him to win the war. At the same time, she becomes Devaki too, as she needs her vengeance to be answered. All this could have made sense, had Trivikram concentrated on the stuff that he wrote and tried to connect with the audience at a base level. But he builds a sandcastle not on the beach but in the ocean itself, on the ocean bed. Hence, it is doomed right away to disintegrate. It may look like it is upright for few minutes but the harsh currents won’t let it stay together under any circumstances. Here the currents are Pawan Kalyan, being so disinterested and Trivikram being so gullible and lazy, to believe that what he is making is enough for the film to be a safe bet at the least. It is a colossal doom that is impending on an actor and a director, who took the craft so easy that the very thing they are good at, swallowed them in a gulp.