Dear Comrade ~ A confused jack of no trades
Star Cast: Vijay Devarakonda, Rashmika Mandanna, Shruti Ramachandran, Suhas, and Sinjith
Directed by Bharat Kamma
Music Composed by Justin Prabhakaran
Cinematography by Sujith Sarang
Edited by Sreejith Sarang
If you enter a Malayalam film, you find actors portraying Communist roles and talking about Comrades. In Kerala, Communism is still prevailing high while Telugu, Tamil and most of the states in India have moved away from it. India takes pride in being Democratic Nation than a Hindu one (which may change), or the Socialist Republic. Still, someone can believe in socialism more than democracy and be a communist and then a comrade too. After watching many films, Communism and Comrade are not the same as one is trying to fit in with changing times and another is a tag given to a soldier or a fighter.
People who believe truly in being good and making the world a better place for everyone can be called Comrades. They don’t need a party identity or a group to really think about fighting for the right. They can be fundamental or justice-oriented but fight for the right cause is the only necessity for them. Now, what did we see in Dear Comrade? An impulsive person being completely ignorant of rightful anger for 2 hrs 25 minutes and then looking at things from others perspective in the last 15 minutes…
Lilly as a character is very confusing. For a girl, who is ambitious and who could get go-ahead from her parents, she acts too dependent, too naive and too frightened. Even before being sexually harassed, she seems to have no voice to defend herself, for example, her first meeting with the hero. One may say that even though she is ambitious and naive, she can be fearful and dependent. But slowly, she must be able to learn, how to not be dependent and that should have been Comrade Bobby’s stature in her life. Him giving her the strength to be independent while she can be dependent on him.
This is a key factor for the story. Not because this is how I prefer to watch a film unfold but because the story generically needs to develop to that point where she feels she can be independent of him but he, who caused her to find the inner strength to say that she wants someone that can understand her and her fears. And he should be dependent on her who has always been independent and impulsive. Fear of hurting her should creep in him gradually and a sense of freedom should grow in her. So, when he looks to cut that freedom, she rebels even against that drives her more into insecurity and then just like that all her courage vanishes, due to an abuser. I believe even Bharat Kamma wanted to say the same story.
Because his film seems to have such characters whose life seems to be interrelated even though they don’t realize it that much. And this is a theme of every relationship. We want to be dependent on our partner at the same time want to have some independence & freedom, to be honest selves too. But this film just sails on a plank that aspires to be a ship and hence, we see it being very fragile. Even plank can save you from drowning for some time but it can’t bear all the harsh currents for a successful sail. You need a boat or a ship for a reason.
When a person really feels alone and fears to speak up they need a guide or at least a situation that seems to be favouring them. If it is another person, then that is great. This is the idea behind the story. Bobby needs Lilly to identify his true self which hides behind a masculine macho angry mask and Lilly needs Bobby to be her playful true self, unhinged and relentless to get what she desires. Hence, we see him not being comfortable around his parents but running for her affection all the time. We also see, Lilly really recovering from her trauma only when he decides to end their relationship, for real not due to her force.
Geethanjali – an old classic by Mani Ratnam, also talks about how hero – a free-spirited impulsive young man feels his wings are cut by cancer and wants to find an answer for, “Why me?” But heroine who has similar life-threatening disease decides to accept life as it is. For her death is a reality and acceptable. She is independent from everything until the hero makes her feel new emotions and becomes important in her life. As she likes this new dependency and new life, she feels the need to be alive to not miss it. Hence, she needs to grow independent while being dependent on him and he needs to allow her to be independent yet dependent on him for their relationship to work. A similar theme is attempted by Bharat Kamma but with Hero’s sickness is being too angry and heroine’s being unable to identify her true self.
Cinematographer, Music composer and Editor were asked to make the movie pacy, beautiful, heart touching. They did their best but writing had no real identity. It had ingredients but did not find the right scenes to build on the story as it desired and you feel like you are watching the repeat telecast of same incidents in different from for 2 hours until the plank attaches to another plank. But it is still a plank and it couldn’t become a boat. Vijay Devarakonda and Rashmika Mandanna did try their best but they seemed too limited to play these characters away from their own personal selves. We kinda feel that they let themselves take over at times than being in character.
Dear Comrade could have really been a story of Sita finding her Rama or Draupadi finding her Arjun or even Valmiki turning into a poet who crafts an epic. This could have been a journey of two souls wounded and torched by circumstances infused by themselves too. But this ends up being an overcooked and undercooked buffet that plans to serve a meal with all 64 varieties of food items in 4 multiples.