Love Story : Letter of Agony and Survival
Love Story Review
Directed by Sekhar Kammula
Star Cast: Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, Sai Pallavi, Utteej, Devayani, Easwari Rao, Rajeev Kanakala.
Music Composed by Pawan Ch
Cinematography by Vijaya Kumar C
Film Editing by Marthand K Venkatesh
Love can take any form that you identify with. Love is omnipresent. It doesn’t have color, creed, taste, or odor. It is a feeling that helps you SURVI’VE. You need to at least love yourself to live at peace. If cannot feel a sense of belonging, your soul will always provoke you to find it. People call it their “TRUE CALLING“. Can you ever find your so-called True Calling? Means your purpose on this small rocky planet is to save a fellow human from another fellow human? Is your purpose on this small blue dot to raise your kids and then die thinking they cheated you? Is your purpose on this sand rocky world to play a game of ball and win a medal that too created by another human like you a century ago? Never lie to yourself. What is the greater good that we all are achieving? Nothing – ALL HUMANS STRIVE IS TO SURVIVE AND LOVE, PASS IT ON. There is no PURPOSE higher than that. But does love means you need to die for it? Does love mean you need to leave your ambitions for it? Does love mean you need to live with prejudices? Does love mean you need to burn to ashes and rise like a phoenix to burn again? Why love is complex? Like you experience it with your parents, with close ones, with friends and siblings, why can’t it be Simple with Strangers too? Why it has to be two complex beings understanding and then overcoming their prejudices and then again fighting with the world to attain togetherness? Like we discussed earlier if the whole purpose of life is to SURVIVE and Pass on that knowledge then love should simplify it. Why does it easily make it complex? Why not complete?
After watching Sekhar Kammula‘s nth take on love between two people, I wanted to ask myself these questions. Well, I have few answers but I won’t share them here as you have to come to your own conclusions on these questions. Sekhar Kammula is a master in creating characters but not a craftsman in presenting their universe or realizing their arc. He goes with the characters, loves them to the core and if you like his characters, you like their story. If you don’t – you won’t. As a craftsman, it is upon him to bring their universe into reality and show us that their problems, conflicts are relevant, persistent, and necessary for us to reflect on. Otherwise, it is just two smart-looking people doing random things that either you like or you don’t.
In Fidaa, he connected to audiences with Bhanumathi. He created a character with which everyone fell in love with and the hero choosing her over his career, family and everything seemed “ACCEPTABLE”, because people fell in love with her, the character and the actor “Sai Pallavi” who performed in it brilliantly. But did her universe needed him? It was her “WISH” that was granted but did it needed to be fulfilled? Because Sekhar Kammula thought it should be, it did get granted. This means he acted as dictator for the characters he created but not as a crafty storyteller who is telling us to look at her universe, feel for her NEED, give her want she wants. If you watch Fidaa after the character freshness wears off, you will feel like a young rebel who did not want to follow a custom set by oldies got her to wish granted but not a story of two equals choosing an equal ground to fulfill each other’s wishes and one adjusting for another. In real life, you find love in such adjustments. Sekhar Kammula wanted to show that but ended up showing a boy who fell for a girl madly and decided to grant her wish. People rooted for it because the girl character was novel, unique, and truly one piece but is that enough for a story to end that way?
Again in this film, titled Love Story, Sekhar pens the agony of two torched and oppressed characters but doesn’t find a common ground between them to play with. He carefully crafts scenes like Revanth waiting for Mounika to realize that she has a knack for dance. She has a talent that can help her survive outside of her family that she loathes. She can be self-sustained, happy, confident, enjoy little things, beloved, and live with a beloved. He has a passion to raise his living standards. He has a persistent dream to show the world that “HE” and “HIS PEOPLE” are not born to be oppressed and suppressed. He has in-built anger towards society norms that cast him away and a sense of acceptance towards them as he has to SURVIVE at the end of the day. He has a penchant to love beyond his existence.
But what do their universes have in common about them? Their PAIN and AGONY of being DENIED. They have been denied to breathe freely, they have been denied to live life on their own terms, they have been denied to SURVIVE. So, what do they do? They run, they fight. Does that fight connect with you? Does their struggle touch your heartstrings? Does it make you cheer when they finally see each other win? And does it make you ask the Lord to help them SURVIVE? Sekhar Kammula again fails to create a sustainable conflict between them and for them. It is like you’re watching an old film (like Aame (1994), Balipeetam (1975), Highway (2014).. etc ) being rehashed by a current generation filmmaker without properly configuring out what he really wants you to connect to – Characters or their journey of SURVIVAL?
If we are expected to connect with characters then he can’t let them show falling for each other over the course of time for two hours and end their journey in half an hour. He did not write their conflict about wanting to accept each other but failing to do so. He comes closer to her, she rejects, and then she accepts magically one day. Why did she accept? Why did she find Revanth different from others? Why did she work hard for him? Why did she want to die for him to live with him? Why did she overcome her issues to express her will to stay with him? No answers.
Why did he care for her? Why did he decide to go the extra mile to burn his own dreams for her sake? Why couldn’t he live with realizing his and her dream of being financially independent to win over the evil? Why did he felt an urge to suddenly decide to become SHINING KNIGHT for her? Why did he just not marry her in HYDERABAD and continue to live away from his hometown?
On paper, this story sounds REAL, this story finds its soul in AGONY and ANGST. But what about SURVIVAL? WHAT ABOUT LOVE THAT CAN TRANSCEND ANY DIFFICULTY TO TRIUMPH? WHAT ABOUT THE JOURNEY OF FALLING IN LOVE? WHAT ABOUT WE GETTING WHY THESE CHARACTERS BEHAVE IN A CERTAIN WAY? Well, like Dear Comrade, the issue of love suddenly opens up an underlying problem of brutal abuse and we are asked to care for it. Why it did not come out open before? Why did the hero not give her reasons to trust him? Why did their fruitful business partnership always had to be hidden? To SURVIVE YOU NEED WILL TO FIGHT. WHEN BOTH OF THEM ARE ALREADY DRIVEN IN THEIR OWN WAYS AND ARE WILLING TO DO ANYTHING TO SURVIVE, what made them suddenly decide they have to RUN?
Teja, however loud and blindfolded, he did create a believable universe for us to root for a young boy who rose to fight against an arrogant abuser, oppressor in Jayam (2002). Just softening the blow and making characters more mature- due to age- doesn’t make it for a compelling story than the earlier one. Both are as flawed as the other. OPPRESSION IS A REALITY, ABUSERS ARE ALL AROUND US, But still, people SURVIVE FIGHTING AGAINST THEM. In Some stories, oppressors win REGULARLY but this story had no rhyme or reason for the oppressed to suddenly run for survival as if they are living in the ’80s, that too after they have established financial independence. All they had to do was fight the abuser together with THEIR MONEY AND STATUS rather than run. Revanth and Mounika never looked like tame, timid youngsters with no real WILL TO SURVIVE. As a unit, they should have found all the strength within themselves in a “REALISTIC” tone. Once again, Sekhar Kammula’s characters end up asking you to love them or hate them while Nagraj Manjule in Sairat (2016) had a more realistic vision and writing with more believable underdogs. A could have been tale of love letter that needed a better craftsman at the helm as performers Sai Pallavi and Naga Chaitanya, did their absolute best…