Samajavaragamana: A Comical Octave
Star Cast: Sree Vishnu, Reba Monica John, Naresh, Sudarshan, Sreekanth Iyengar, Vennela Kishore, Raghu Babu, Rajeev Kanakala, Devi Prasad, and Priya Samajavaragamana Review
Music Composed by Gopi Sundhar
Directed by Ram Abbaraju
Octaves are known as the interval of eight notes in Western music. At the same time, in Carnatic music, the octave means Sthayi or Sthai. Sruthi – pitch, is important in any form of music but singing an octave as you need to hit all notes in pitch is difficult. Telugu Cinema stories or popular genres are like Octaves in music. Someone like AR Rahman can experiment with known ragas and use a completely sad tone raga-like Raag Darbari, known as King of Ragas, for a hummable pleasant melody song like Kaatre en Vaasal Vandai/ Gaale Naa Vaakitikocche – Rhythm. But Telugu filmmakers are like students who learn from old books and write in exams to get pass marks or distinction. When you are learning music it seems tough to even master one basic tonal harmony while exploring advanced modal harmony is even tougher. Meanwhile, you need opportunities to survive and learn on the job. By the time, you master it, you become as old as your guru once was. And the wait for a student to learn by experiment continues. Samajavaragamana fits rightly into the description of that Made in Telugu Cinema Student.
Pawan Kalyan once said, “Made in Andhra Student ante ardham vivaristha“. Let me take his inspiration and tell you about, “Made in Telugu Cinema Student”. It is all about watching ten films or 100 films and writing another one. While World Cinema tells you to have an idea and then execute it in the popular screenplay format or deviate and find a new one. Made in Telugu Cinema Student finds the popular format first and then finds his or her idea that could work. Samajavaragamana is that popular format idea. I am not trying to judge if being Made in Telugu Cinema student is right or wrong. But like a young enthusiast who learns music and ends up just trying to master one raga or one set of ragas their whole life, Made in Telugu Cinema students are restricting themselves to mastering those popular genres that greats have left behind. Jandhyala and EVV Satyanarayana have proved to be the absolute master of comedy cinema. They became masters because they applied their own thought processes to what film stands for them. They failed miserably when they tried to ape someone else’s style. All this is about, a hope I have in my heart to see someone experimenting and succeeding.
Samajavaragamana offered the director a pretty big scope to experiment and innovate. Huge Spoiler Alert. Trying to force lovers into a brother-sister relationship unknowingly, does give a huge scope to experiment comedy-wise and situations-wise without becoming repetitive. Despite being repetitive, being a faithful student of EVV school and then learning the 3rd Octave equivalent rule for a Made in Telugu Cinema student – “use and re-use ideas from others”, helped the filmmakers to convince us. Hindi Cinema got madly obsessed with Yash Chopra-style romantic song picturization in the 90’s and early 2000s. Now, when Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt tried to emulate that people are asking for Shah Rukh Khan with Kajol or Madhuri Dixit or Kareena Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan with Rekha and Raj Kapoor with Sridevi. The same formula on new faces is a success formula but it needs to suit those actors or in writing – situations as well. Samajavaragamana brings Vennela Kishore‘s “Kula” character into an already over-crowded movie and the effect is reduced rather than being enhanced.
Yes, previously, Sunil and Brahmanandam gave that extra edge to many films but here Vennela Kishore just seemed a routine addition to a tricky premise. It seemed like an easy escape from a tough situation. Also, a person who hates love and makes women forcefully his sisters is now facing the irony. His love of life could become his sister rather than his sister-in-law. From this situation, the jokes can get repetitive if the screenplay doesn’t get imaginative. Why not sequences, that yield fun and also the main lead pair getting closer to an extent that we cannot think about their separation? Why not a track where Srikanth Iyengar grows close to the hero so much that he himself feels that maybe this boy is perfect to become his son-in-law and he is forcing himself and convincing to make him his “prodigal son”? Why not a few more comedy scenes where Naresh is exploring his fatherly instincts but succeeding rather than failing? Why not the pair who are getting married get the same idea as a hero from his Father? Why not a funny sequence where Rajeev Kanakala actually tests the hero to see if he fits the bill? Why not some sequences where to annoy Srikanth, Sree Vishnu purposefully bring Rajeev and try to force Srikanth to accept him in a funny way? Why not a scene where a frustrated Sree Vishnu asks Rajeev to adopt his lover, Reba Monica John, in a funny exchange? What purpose did Vennela Kishore’s character serve other than the above-mentioned ideas for sequences?
Samajavaragamana got first-class marks as Made in Telugu Cinema student, in rehashing popular situations with new punchlines. Also, it made genuine efforts in sticking to the genre. Even when it gets serious, it sticks to the point which can easily drop into a silly zone. Sree Vishnu by imitating Mohan Babu at times and sticking to his strengths, made all his must-perform moments shine. Reba Monica John has much more to offer and hope someone notices. Naresh is a revelation to the eyes who watched him making a mockery of himself in Malli Pelli. Ram Abbaraju did a better job of sticking to the comic genre in this movie than his previous film, Vivaha Bhojanambu. Samajavaragamana could have been an interesting comic caper but being a good student of “Made in Telugu Cinema”, it ends up being an easy-on-eye film with a “new” idea.