Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya Movie Review: An enjoyable remake that manages to retain its own identity
A breezy remake that is true to its original
Humiliation makes people do extraordinary things in pursuit of redemption. While Panchali in Mahabharata vowed to let her hair remain untied till she achieved vengeance, the protagonist Mahesh in Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya pledges to walk bare-footed. Revenge, as a theme, is a staple in literature and cinema, and this film is a fascinating example of this theme.
Perhaps it helped that I did not familiarise myself with the Malayalam original, Maheshinte Prathikaaram, nor its Tamil remake, Nimir, before viewing this beautiful Telugu version, Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya. But after watching, for academic interest, I wanted to see whether Mahesh (Maheshinte...) and Selvam (Nimir) faced the same quality of shame in those films, and it was evident that Uma Maheshwara suffers the most of the lot. In the all-important scene, we see Uma Maheshwara (Sathyadev) clad in a pant, a relatively more secure form of clothing than the dhotis than Mahesh and Selvam wear. You realise that Jognath (Ravindra Vijay) isn’t being impulsive in ripping apart Mahesh's pants. This makes the tears and bruises of Mahesh more personal, and as a consequence, makes this remake feel original.
Director: Venkatesh Maha
Cast: Satyadev Kancharana, Naresh, Suhas, Raghavan
Streaming On: Netflix
The world of Mahesh is beautifully constructed, and entices you to get lost in it—it’s a world Venkatesh establishes from the word 'go'. Mahesh has a town full of relatives, goes on picnics with his family during the weekends, and plays volleyball with his friends, well into his 30s. It is the life every overworked, urban youth dreams of. So when we see him riding his bike across the empty, scenic roads of Arakku or taking a relaxed river-side bath, these don’t feel like speed breakers. We want them to last longer.
It is heartwarming to see how Mahesh and the people in his world incessantly fall in love with imperfections and celebrate simplicity. Manohar (Raghavan), the father of Mahesh, loves his son though the latter does not carry forward his photography legacy. Mahesh finds Soumya to be drop-dead gorgeous though she is in tears at a funeral, and Suhaas doesn't think twice before whistling for his favourite scene from Jr NTR's Simhadri, though he’s watching it on a stranger's TV.
Actor Sathyadev, whose looks remind you a lot of Fahadh Faasil’s version, delivers a performance unadulterated by influence. He beautifully sells both the naivete and pain of the character and is particularly delightful in reaction shots. Casting is among the strongest points of this film, save for Ravindra Vijay whose Jognath feels out of place, pitted against the overpowering build of Sathyadev. The faceoffs may have been more convincing had they cast someone with a stronger build, or given us more material with which to understand Jognath’s ruthlessness.
Doctor-turned-actor Roopa Koduvayur is dynamite in the film and effortlessly lights up the screen. While everyone remembers Allu Arjun's boardroom dance sequence in Ala Vaikunthapurramulo, I believe Roopa's flashmob dance would have caused as much impact if this film had come out in theatres. I also enjoyed how her Jyothi, who is said to dislike Mahesh Babu, falls for a character like Mahesh, way more rooted in reality.
I couldn’t but help notice more similarities between Mahabharatha’s Panchali and Mahesh. They suffer disrobing humiliation, they both promise vengeance. While Panchali demands that the thigh bone of Duryodhana be shattered, Mahesh is shown to do something very similar in this film.
In one scene, Mahesh shows his best work to his father, and says, "Copy kaadhu naanna, idhi inspiration.” An elated Manohar looks at the picture for an additional second and shares his appreciation. Director Venkatesh Maha could well be channelling his thoughts about this film through Mahesh, and I then have no hesitation in borrowing Manohar’s response to summarise my thoughts about this film: “It is beautiful.”