Revisiting Vedam: Probably the best Telugu film of recent times?

The year 2008 in my opinion was one of the best for Telugu Cinema. Along with the usual potboilers like King, Kantri, Bujjigadu,Souryam etc it also had some movies which were commercial and yet “reasonably different” in the kind of subject and treatment used. Some of these movies included Kotha Bangaru Lokam, Ashta Chemma, Nacchavule, Avakai Biriyani and Gamyam of course. Gamyam was a true road movie and was completely fresh in its way of reaching out to the Telugu audience. Directed by a debutant, Krish ( Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi ) this was a movie that gave all the actors scope and in particular made “Gaali Seenu”, the character played by Allari Naresh extremely popular. The movie went on to be remade in Tamil, Kannada and Bengali as well.

Somehow after a good 2008, the next 2 years or so haven’t been all that good for Telugu Cinema. 2009 saw the super success of Arundhati and Magadheera but after that there have hardly been any path breaking films. So when Krish announced his next film Vedam & disclosed that it will be a multistarrer with 5 different stories running in parallel, naturally the expectation levels began to soar. What made matters worse was that in 2010 while some movies did made money, none of them again have been trendsetting films. So obviously as June 4th , the day of release for Vedam approached there were a lot of questions on people’s minds- the most important being will Krish be able to live up to the hype and will he be able to demonstrate that Gamyam was no flash in the pan?

So that’s why I was all the more excited while watching Vedam on the very first day of release. So is it a brilliant film, does Krish live up to the expectations and does the movie herald good news for Telugu Cinema? Well I’ll come to all that shortly but before that let me dispense away with the basics first. Vedam is what I’ll call a true Hyperlink film ( on the lines of Crash, Amores Perros etc ) and yes indeed its a multistarrer with 5 different stories/tracks running in parallel.

Track 1 : This one is all about Chakravarthy (Manoj Manchu), an aspiring rock star. His mother wants him to join the army and continue the family tradition. Instead Chakravarthy wants to follow his heart to become a rock star. He and his rock band members including Lekha Washington miss their flight from Bangalore to Hyderabad where they are supposed to perform at a live concert. Hence they decide to travel by road.

Track 2 : Ramulu (Nagayya) is a weaver in a small town. His grandson is a bright student. Ramulu owes money to a money lender and the money lender one day takes away Ramulu’s grandson and makes him a daily labour. Ramulu hence urgently needs money to get the kid back and he somehow finds a way of obtaining the money and visits Hyderabad along with his daughter-in-law ( Saranya ) for the same purpose.

Track 3 : Saroja ( Anushka ) is a prostitute in Amalapuram and very much popular. As she has to pass on major part of her earnings to the brothel owner, she decides to run away to Hyderabad and start her own brothel there. Giving her company on the run is her eunuch companion.

Track 4 : Raheemuddin Qureishi ( Manoj Bajpai ) is tired of being discriminated for being a Muslim and decides to leave Hyderabad and go on to make a career for himself in Sharjah. Accordingly he even gets his visa and is all set to fly out when his past catches up with him in an unfortunate development.

Track 5 : Cable Raju ( Allu Arjun ) is a cable operator in the slums of Jubilee Hills/Film Nagar ( Hyderabad ). Being a smooth talker he manages to get a rich girlfriend ( Deeksha Seth ) who is convinced by his charms that he is a rich guy too. As New Year’s Eve approaches she requests Raju to take her for a New Year eve party, where the entry tickets for a couple cost Rs.40, 000. Now Raju has to arrange money for the same.

While all 5 stories are of different kinds and temperament, Krish does a fairly good job of trying to run them in parallel and link them in his own way. At times one comes across a lot of cinematic moments which could have been avoided if possible and this is especially evident in the climax. But for all such moments there are so many well made moments as well which makes you completely look rooted to the screen while watching them.

My personal favourite track in the movie is the Allu Arjun one. While the premise is simple, it has been done in a very impressive manner. I would give full marks to Krish and Allu Arjun for elevating this track to the desired level. Frankly I did not expect this track to emerge so good. While on Allu Arjun I must admit that I have always felt that behind the star in him there exists a good actor who can be brought out to perform given an author backed role. So Krish has gone on to do exactly the same with Allu Arjun in Vedam.Check out the scene in the hotel on New Year’s Eve as Allu Arjun walks off to the parking lot and you may agree with me.

Nagayya as Ramulu is fabulous and he carries off the emotional scenes wonderfully. It’s tough to say that this is his first film. This is again a track that impressed me. The clandestine “organ donation” racket has been naturally depicted. The way Krish links this track with Cable Raju’s track is impressive. Manoj Manchu also comes up with a natural performance and is at ease playing the rockstar. Anushka’s role was looked forward to, thanks to the character she portrays and it’s heartening to note that she has not let her fans down. She comes across as genuine and lives up to the requirement.

Manoj Bajpai is a veteran and certainly doesn’t disappoint. Apart from the main characters Krish has brought out some good performances from the supporting cast as well and in particular those who stand out are Satyam Rajesh as Cable Raju’s friend, Ravi Prakash as the cop who hates Muslims and the eunuch friend of Anushka. A lot of other actors like Brahmanandam, Posani Murali Krishna, Raghu Babu, Giri etc put in brief appearances. Deeksha Seth and Lekha Washington manage to get noticed as well.

The writing by Krish is also to be singled out as he has beautifully interwoven these tracks together. Also ensuring that all the actors get their due is again not an easy task and hats off to Krish for ensuring the same. M.M Keeravani’s music is very much in line with the film’s requirement and the veteran does what is expected. Art Director Rajiv Nairdeserves a special mention for his work and the cinematography by Gnanasekhar V.N is effective as well. The producers- Devineni Prasad and Shobu Yarlagadda deserve to be appreciated for backing an interesting film and ensuring Krish gets to do the movie the way he wanted.

All said and done while this may not be the defining moment in Telugu Cinema, it’s certainly a film that’s a good attempt and Krish does succeed in proving that he’s no one film wonder. The drought in Telugu Cinema hopefully should end with Vedam and now filmmakers have a new benchmark to compare their films with.

Note- This review was originally written in 2010 after the release of Vedam but this has now been re-edited and published keeping in mind the release of Krish’s latest film-Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum.

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