Ala Vaikuntapurramuloo: Old but Gold
Star Cast: Allu Arjun, Pooja Hegde, Tabu, Jayaram, Sushanth, Sachin Khedekar, Navdeep, Nivetha Pethuraj, Samuthirakani, and Govind Padmasoorya
Directed & Written by Trivikram Srinivas
Music Composed by Thaman S
Cinematography by P S Vinod
Edited by Navin Nooli
When people ask why should an old story need to be said again or why should we accept a filmmaker’s outdated stories, all we can say is, a film is never about old or new, but it is about story. It is about narrating it convincingly on screen. Othello is the most re-visited drama on stage but still an actor’s caliber in western theatre is estimated by their power to bring newness to Othello, drama. The problem lies in people trying for Othello and ending up making themselves, a Buffalo(bad pun, but intended).
Yes, I always ask people to come up with a fresh narrative but that doesn’t mean I am only asking them to come up with a new story all the time. All I want is an individual version of a story, not someone trying to think and write like the other person or find an easy formula and limit themselves to tethers so that they can escape with a box office winner. Khaidi was a push from regular screenplays but not from regular story. Shiva was a push from regular screenplays but not from regular stories. Trivikram Srinivas understands this and from Khaleja, he stopped pushing himself to find a factor that works with a hero and started telling his stories, even if they are old, they work for him and he can make a fresh film, out of them.
Problem with some others, who are not Rajamouli or Koratala Siva or Sukumar, is that they don’t push themselves too much. They are comfortable with one type of narrative and they stick to it. Rajamouli takes his grand vision to a risky fresh level, Koratala Siva tries to pack his film with strong content filled episodes and Sukumar tries something that he can convince only by himself, yet times, even he cannot convince himself. Others either try a Korean drama in the same way or try to bring some film that has a good point that connects to people there to Telugu in a screenplay that tries to follow an 80’s or 90’s format. Trivikram Srinivas and above mentioned, created their own templates and they are pushing themselves within those boundaries as much as they can.
So, how can you say all this?
S P O I L E R S
First of all, Ala Vaikuntapurramuloo is not a story about two families or someone trying to still stick to the old Telugu film story format. If that is the case, then the film would have been melodramatic. It would have tried to generate emotions by going into the Mother-Son acceptance zone, which many writers, better than Trivikram Srinivas have already said. So, what new did Trivikram offer? Not a dance episode, Not fight with a song episode, Not fights with concepts, Not songs, But a conflict point from Father angle to an old story. How would a father feel in such a situation?
Telugu fathers in films, either end up being made fun off or become tools for frustrating children. They either become villains or they end up being stereotypical chest-thumping hero worshippers. In real life, fathers do have emotions, they have dreams and they don’t express them because they need to be bread-winners or the cog that supports the wheel emotionally, physically, mentally and financially. So, they can’t let themselves be. They have to restrict themselves for their family name or children or for saving their family from an entire collapse. Hence, they seem distant, they seem nagging and they seem lost, disconnected. But a father is always a father. He can never disown or disconnect from his own blood.
Trivikram made a father commit a sin. Killing a bird made one Valmiki decide to give up on sinister lifestyle and write about a King who had to leave his palace, army, and all privileges. But what did the King do? He went and established order in the world, like a King by killing evil, which is the work designated to a person nominated as King. But by striping him away off powers, did the King lose his ability to think and act like one? No. So, Trivikram used the same name for a father who became selfish and made him write the story of a King with his own hands. Even after being 25 years away from the Throne or all facilities, even when he kept dreaming about such a lifestyle, he did not want it.
Here again, he tried to tell the difference of a person in his thinking and maturity level but not by showing class division with money. Remember, even Ramachandra, the hero’s father is not rich by birth. Even he commits a mistake like Dasaradh. But mother, Aishwarya (Tabu), is a typical rich person who gives the ego more importance than emotions. Hence, Ramachandra and Aishwarya just end up proving to each other their love until their bond is questioned. She couldn’t accept another woman’s son being praised by her husband and she can never accept the other boy as her son. She accepts the other woman’s boy as her son not because she got to know the truth but because she finally understood his character. His level of maturity and like how she gave his father, her husband, the throne and even her heart, she did the same with her original son, asking whom she believes as her son to go & live a simple learn to earn the throne.
The thought process of a person might change with the situation, but inherent qualities, never change. Murli Sharma‘s character is defined by his selfishness and his level is decided by his thought process, but not by his financial stature. If someone still believes that this film is about two fathers, who are financially divided by discarding the fact that Valmiki hates Ramachandra because of him rising to the throne from his level, then there is no way to reason with them. Also, Trivikram did not give Mother-son elements complete importance but he showed that a mother who was unhappy in her marriage and a father who is trying to save it, always neglect their son, making him a loser. On other hand, even in his cruelty, a guy with settled marriage life, couldn’t change a talented person into a complete loser. He ultimately won the throne with his ability to solve delicate issues with maturity.
He even tried to make sense with his hero being down and out of confidence, by making him look at the problems, his boss’s feet or thighs. A loser always gives up easily and never tries to look straight into your eyes as other things keep distracting him. But a winner looks at his goals. Hence, he made the person who should hate such a loser, be the catalyst to make him look up into her eyes. If you observe it carefully, a thought that looks “cheap” also was made use to tell the character and define it, rather than just use it for some comical effect.
Each and every cast member did their best but Allu Arjun gave life to his character and even the film. But the film’s major issues lies with the safe bet screenplay approach. Trivikram in his early days, might have gone for even captivating character moments and highlighted the emotions, brilliantly. Here, he feared to explore all the emotions, thinking that he may go to overboard or be too old school. Trying to tell a story in his way, in his typical style and make people accept his sense, he went for episodes that will engage but don’t last deep in memory at times. But he convinced many with his climax that he still wants to come up with something fresh and even if he keeps telling old stories until he finds that something “fresh”, we can encourage him.