Film: Arjun Reddy; Director: Sandeep Reddy Vanga; Cast: Vijay Devarakonda, Shalini Pandey, Rahul Ramakrishna and Sanjay Swaroop;
One can’t help but fall in love with Arjun Reddy, the film as well as the eponymous title character. Even though no one walks out of the cinema hall with a smile after this film. This is not a film meant for audience who believe that cinema is meant only to entertain. They might as well watch a David Dhawan film.
Arjun Reddy is for those who like cinema that moves audiences, quite literally shakes us up from within. By the end of the film, it stirs up an emotional storm deep inside with its raw, intense, and honest portrayal of love and suffering.
In the opening shot, we are introduced to Arjun and Preethi. We’re told they are two bodies united by one soul. But theirs is not the kind of love story we are used to; especially not Telugu audiences who are usually cheering for 50-plus stars romancing heroines half their age, singing duets in the Alps.
The love in Arjun Reddy is pure, unabashedly bold, and hard-hitting. It touches the soul in ways that can’t be explained. It gives the story a modern-day Devdas twist, while making the overall cinematic experience a journey to remember for a long time.
This is the story of the lead character Arjun Reddy, and yet there isn’t a structure to follow and anticipate what might happen next. The rise, fall and rise of Arjun, and his journey of love and suffering, is nothing short of poetic and heart wrenching.
Writer-director Sandeep Reddy Vanga doesn’t make us sympathise with Arjun’s character, and that’s a relief and achievement in itself. He makes us understand Arjun’s love and pain from a very personal and subconscious standpoint, and in doing so, he strikes an emotional chord.
It’s not the number of lip-locks or the use of expletives that make Arjun Reddy a brave film. What really makes it a brave film and its director a man with guts is that it ventures into a space Telugu cinema has not dared to enter and, I doubt, will ever dare again.
It shows that any story, when told with conviction, will be accepted and celebrated.
Sandeep and Vijay, as director and hero, make the film what it is, and both have paved the way for a new chapter in Telugu filmdom. If it was Pellichoopulu and Kshanam last year, it’s Arjun Reddy in 2017, and these films assure us that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
As much as the film belongs to Sandeep, who is also its writer, it equally belongs to Vijay Devarakonda, who is the life of Arjun Reddy. Vijay breathes life into the character and it’s impossible to imagine anyone else in his shoes.
Be it his passion, love, and rage; he portrays these layers of his character with unparalleled realism.
Vijay’s performance as a college-goer with serious anger issues or as the alcoholic surgeon will leaves us in awe of his versatility in pulling off such diverse avatars with such ease.
Sandeep presents Vijay’s character from different perspectives. From each point of view, we get to understand Arjun even better. For Arjun’s father, his son’s actions are stains on his prestige. For his friends, Arjun’s actions show his recklessness and free-spirited attitude. For Preethi, Arjun’s actions show his madness and unwillingness to change, which she eventually embraces.
We get to learn more about Arjun – his strengths, his weaknesses and flaws – from every character around him.
Arjun Reddy is not just a film, but an experience that stays. This is a very personal story of love and suffering, aided by beautiful cinematography and terrific music, particularly the background score.
After 190 minutes, there isn’t a single dull moment in the film. It hooks us in till the end. This is the most original, experimental, and daring work to come out of Telugu cinema in a long time.
Image Courtesy: Still from Arjun Reddy