Mallesham Movie Review: A heart-warming, inspiring story elevated by beautiful performances
The film boasts of spectacular performances and is built on a strong emotional core
Films which depict the life of a common man are rare to come by in Telugu cinema. At a time when our filmmakers and writers are making films out of the lives of political stalwarts, film actors, and sports personalities, debutant director Raj Rachakonda, with his biopic, Mallesham, tells the little-known story of the eponymous high-school dropout.
Starring Priyadarshi Pullikonda, Mallesham is based on the life of Padma Shri awardee Chintakindi Mallesham, the innovator of the Rs 26,000 Asu machine from Pochampally, who is also credited with revolutionising the productivity of the handloom sector and bringing nation-wide recognition to the weavers from his region.
Cast: Priyadarshi Pullikonda, Ananya Nagalla, Jhansi
Direction: Raj Rachakonda
Mallesham is about the great lengths a doting son will go to mitigate the shoulder impingement pain of his mother, and women like her in his village. Mallesham is a class VI drop out from a small hamlet in Telangana, who takes up the task of creating an Asu machine to process yarn mechanically. He does this after learning about the suffering of his mother, Lakshmi (Jhansi), who moves her arms continuously to wind yarn around two sets of pegs on either end of a four-foot wooden structure for weaving sarees.
Telugu cinema is often known for over-dramatisation. As a school-goer, Mallesham tells his mother that he will make her life better. She just laughs this off and doesn't pay him any heed. But the director does not think it's enough that Mallesham is determined to make his own version of the Asu machine. The particular scene is staged amidst pathos.
The writing by Raj and Peddinti Ashok Kumar actually begins on a funny note, but quickly becomes dramatic owing to the plight of Mallesham. He loses sleep and spends his hours thinking about the requirements of the machine, and how the components can be assembled to make an affordable Asu machine. However, his obsession makes him an object of ridicule for his own family and the villagers. His wife, Padma (Ananya Nagalla) supports him in his endeavor by giving her jewelry to accomplish his dream. As the story unfolds through Mallesham's eyes, the lead is no longer a common man, who ambitiously tries to solve a personal problem, but ends up as a savior to his people/community.
Director Raj Rachakonda struggles in the second-hour with his inconsistent story-telling as he wants to entertain, raise awareness, and sensitise people about his beliefs, all at one go.
At one point, Mallesham, who has no technical knowledge, seeks the help of a professor at a university for a problem. A few scenes later, we still see him struggling to find a solution to it. He does several odd jobs to make ends meet and becomes an electrician, while his boss scoffs at the deaths of weavers. Mallesham fights self-doubt and faces obstacles in his journey, and while these sequences are used to reinforce the idea that he had a journey, they do feel a bit repetitive. The director succeeds in bringing authenticity to the biopic, but the narrative lacks consistency.
Despite this, credit to the director for staying true to the story. Also, this film comes at an opportune time when nearly 50,000 weavers from the region are continuing to demand justice for their community. And so, Raj deserves applause for coming up with a film which has its heart in the right place.
Priyadarshi's complete ownership of the role is what elevates this film a few notches higher. His honest portrayal of a high-school goer, obsessed with electronic devices, who turns into a dejected soul later on, sets him apart from many poker-faced actors.
Newcomer Ananya Nagalla performs with ease and lights up the screen with her presence. Jhansi and Ananda Chakrapani portray their parts beautifully and make their characters relatable.
The film has been shot across Pochampally in a realistic, on-location style, which beautifully captures the sights and sounds of the village in its everyday routine. The usage of sync sound and Mark K Robin's upbeat music help the film a lot.
Mallesham is overall an interesting film that needs to be watched for its convincing performances and emotional connect.