Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava Review: Trivikram strikes the right note with NTR
The film is more engaging than the typical Jr NTR commercial potboiler, if only because it provides an idealistic solution from the perspective of its strong female characters
Telugu cinema has an obsession with films which are set against the hinterlands of Rayalaseema. From Preminchukundam Raa to Katamarayudu, we have seen several films showing two warring groups striving to gain supremacy over the region by resorting to personal attacks and making pitiful sacrifices. For decades, these faction films have served as a paradigm to redefine heroism and a platform to break box-office records. After a brief hiatus, director Trivikram Srinivas, who made a name for himself with his light-hearted family entertainers, has moved out of his comfort zone to tell a story rooted in the land of factions through Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava.
Cast: Jr NTR, Pooja Hegde, Jagapathi Babu
Direction: Trivikram Srinivas
He tells the story of two war-ridden families controlled by Kommaddi's Narapu Reddy (Naga Babu) and Nallagudi's Basi Reddy (Jagapathi Babu). Their enmity habitually spills onto the streets when members of either camp encounter the other. Blood is spilt, blows and curses are exchanged, and it goes on and on to settle an old score.
When Narapu Reddy's son Veera Raghava Reddy (Jr NTR) comes back to his village, a hot-headed Basi Reddy and party create mayhem and the youngster also steps into the ring to vanquish his opponents. The director wonderfully symbolises the emotional upheaval that Veera Raghava, who is struck between vengeance and finding inner peace and purpose of life, has to carry through the rest of the life. All he needs is guidance and he gets the first clarion call from his sobbing Jeji (Supriya Pathak), who talks about how violence has become a part of the family and urges him to walk away from this bloodbath and bring peace in the region like a real man. However, it isn’t easy to be a peacemonger when you are still seething to avenge a personal loss. Sensing that he might be drawn into violence, Raghava leaves his village. He subdues his anger and befriends Aravinda (Pooja Hegde), who pursues the anthropological study of factionalism. Raghava gets his second clarion call from her and he seeks the help of a politician to broker peace between the two warring factions.
The first half is predictable and the screenplay is on the slower side. Some of the comedy sequences and the romantic number (Ananganaga) are passable, while Thaman's background score remains riveting. Naresh's performance as Aravinda's father is reminiscent of the roles played by Prakash Raj.
The second half is the soul of the film and is a winner on multiple counts. Trivikram, as a director and writer, shows his class with emotional and thoughtful dialogues. In one of the scenes that got the maximum applause from the audience, NTR sprays iron spikes with a drilling machine on the goons and in no time, controls his anger, and says sorry to his enemy for the mistakes that happened in the past. Trivikram, who is reeling from the failure of Agnyaathavasi, allows his protagonist to play to the gallery with clap-worthy dialogues (in Rayalaseema dialect) and gives him many scenes to let his intense eyes talk a lot more. The much-talked Penimiti song lives up to its promise and complements the mood of the film. On the flip side, the film could have done with some serious pruning, especially in the first half. Nevertheless, it's a pleasure to see director Trivikram Srinivas striking the right note after a lull.
As for the performances, Jagapathi Babu once again reminds us how good an actor he is. Subhaleka Sudhakar, Rao Ramesh, Naga Babu, Eeswari Rao, Eesha Rebba and Supriya Pathak make their presence felt. It's riveting to see Sunil and Naveen Chandra in meatier roles and they have come out with effective performances.
Overall, Aravinda Sametha Veera Raghava is more engaging than the typical Jr NTR commercial potboiler, if only because it provides an idealistic solution from the perspective of its strong female characters and has its heart in the right place.