Venky Atluri’s Tholiprema (2018) Movie Review
Cast: Varun Tej, Raashi Khanna, Suhasini Maniratnam, Priyadarshi, Vidyullekha Raman, Naresh, Hyper Aadi, and Suhasini Maniratnam
Music Composed by Thaman SS
Cinematography by George C Williams
Edited by Navin Nooli
Directed by Venky Atluri
Censor Certificate: UA & Runtime: 136.06 Minutes
Romance – is a genre of lovesick puppies and girls. A cliched and sexist sentiment and stated that we are normally asked to believe in all the time. But when you experience love in your life, you start understanding the depth and necessity of being a romantic person. It changes even a cynic to an absolute optimist. But is that enough for you to believe in love on-screen? We always end up being sold an imaginative fairytale as romance on our screen. No matter how many times we watch the cliched fairytale, we still feel it’s new. Still, enjoy its nuances and try to enrich ourselves with the belief in love. Why?
After coming out of Tholiprema, I kept asking myself, why did I enjoy this experience? What made me fall for Adithya and Varsha? In a romance, two characters should feel strong. If one seems weak and another strong, such kind of romances do exist but our connectivity with the movie varies. If there is an Arjun Reddy, who seemed completely strong then there is a Bhanumathi, who really dominated. In such romances, we fall in love with that one person who comes out strong and the other person seems to be a more supporting member than an equal partner in the romance.
But in Malli Raava, Hello we saw both being the important members of the romance. Both feeling equally passionate and driven. Don’t take me wrong, in Fidaa, Bhanumathi and her lover, both are equally driven towards each other but Bhanumathi seems to be the lynchpin of the story. While in Arjun Reddy, everything starts and ends with him. Now, in Tholiprema that’s not the case. It balances out between the characters really well. And it does one thing right from Hello and Malli Raava, it doesn’t try to be completely unique but even on the cliched ground, it tries to find its voice. So, does it have a good voice?
Voice of any story is its characters. They resonate the melody or destruction. They live through those emotions. If it is superficial for us, the outsiders, in their world they are real. What they experience is real and what they do is destined! Rama is destined to meet Seetha at Mithila and Seetha is destined to be captured in the forest. Anywhere else, the story doesn’t stand as the unique love story and test of time. Just imagine if Rama met Seetha in a closed arranged marriage set up in Ayodhya. Will she be revered as one of the daring and strong princesses of her time? Could Ravana lust after Seetha so strongly, in such a scenario? And if there is a no demonic lust, then the story is not such legendary after all.
Even though Seetha has been abducted by Ravanna and Rama had to fight with him for Seetha’s honor. Raja Ram, couldn’t accept her as she is. For society, their love isn’t pure enough for him to accept here just like that. So, she built a bridge of trust by trying to end her life. However, this is an acceptable message or not, is a completely different question here. For Seetha, Ram had to build a bridge after 9 months of separation and Seetha also needed to build a bridge.
This seems to be the inspiration, for writer and director, Venky Atluri. He built the premise around such struggle, where Seetha‘s honor comes into question, Rama fights for it, but then, Seetha needed to build a bridge between them so that, the “social stigma” can be erased. Here, the social stigma is metaphorical for Aditya’s preconceived notions. He is so impulsive and strong in his beliefs like our ‘society‘, he is quick to judge and react. He needs a bridge of communication to overcome his self-destructive nature. Just like how our society is in need of it.
So, Venky Atluri dwells deep into the myth of first love and brings in the Seetha and Rama angle into the story. A unique voice in the cliched narrative. He slowly claws into an imaginative world, where fairytale appears real and believable. He bases his characters in reality and structures it around their personal tensions and disappointments. Here, in his world, the desire to be with each other however unrelenting and underlying it is, plays the character of Hanuman, as there is no need to fight Ravana anymore.
All in all, the film scores more in being original with cliches and cliched in originals. If the characters second meeting seems original then the villain is a bit cliched, if them meeting again and falling for each other seems cliched, then their discussions become original. Varun Tej, Raashi Khanna fit into the world of Venky Atluri very well while Thaman S gives it the life. This is a romance that is as old as Ramayana at the same time as fresh as ‘tree-plucked-apple’. [That is, even though it is routine for an apple tree to give us apples, it always comes with fresh ones if you know what I mean.]