A Question first
How do you consider whether a movie is good or not? If a movie is really well made and makes sense technically most of the times but you don’t agree with the actions of the characters or feel that the story missed on some aspects, would you still like the movie? Or say, you loved the story, but the treatment could have been improved. The production quality, technicalities, VFX could be better? What’s your take on that?
Back to the Review
*This review has SPOILERS*
I recently watched the Telugu movie ‘Arjun Reddy’, which was claimed to be a mature and path-breaking of sorts. For those who haven’t, it is available on Amazon Prime with subtitles in English. This movie is from a debutant director Sandeep Reddy Vanga and stars Vijay Deverakonda as Arjun Reddy Deshmukh and Shalini Pandey as Preethi Shetty in lead roles.
I was particularly intrigued by some discussion on Twitter about some folks not liking some sexist aspects of the movie. Usually, such discussions on Twitter bear no fruit but since the movie was available and the trailer made sense and had a good background song, I just watched it anyway.
This movie can be seen as a more realistic take on India’s ever favorite story of the loser, Devdas. The guy likes a girl but she gets married to someone else. The guy is not able to cope up and falls prey to alcohol and in this case, drugs abuse. The guy, however, is quite a prodigy in the medical field. He is the top student, amazing sportsman and good-looking, etc. But also suffers majorly from Anger Management issues.
Now, we have seen many Devdas movies and I am not at all fond of such genre. But this movie has a basis in reality so this made it an interesting watch. The way Arjun Reddy woos a fresher girl (Shalini) can be easily termed as patriarchial and borderline-abusive but then that is in the context of the movie and passable to an extent. But then, again and again, Arjun imposes himself on Shalini and she gives in every time which made me cringe. Eventually, this movie proves yet again the Indian Movie Theory of Wooing a Girl that, if you persist and stalk and threaten and don’t give up on a girl, she will eventually give up and be yours forever. But I will shut myself up and give credit to this movie as all was shown in the context of the story. Some people are like that in reality too so I understood the intent. The acting of the leads, as well as supporting characters, was really good. Overall, the movie continues to tell the story of this guy who has not been able to move on with life. He starts taking drugs. He leaves his home. He starts womanizing but in a weird way in which he just sobs/drinks in front of them and doesn’t care about doing anything positive about his life. He totally doesn’t believe in any usual-society rules about lovers getting separated due to caste and regional issues.
I would even appreciate the portrayal of this realistic Devdas by Vijay. He does everything which made me think of slapping him with a bat and bringing him back to normalcy. So, I guess he did justice to his role.
Now the major issue part. Devdas movies might be fake, grand and everything dramatic but they do one thing right. In the end, the Devdas character drinks so much that he loses his health, mental state and eventually dies on the road. He is never able to move on and ends up only in shambles and disaster. SPOILER ALERT but this movie has a happy ending. Not only this abusive, angry, junkie, loser, etc finds the girl back, she comes back to her as if their love was 100% Dettol Pure types kosher. This means that whatever happens, if you still don’t move on from your lover, even if you spend months and years away from them, the lover herself has not even tried to contact you at all, eventually, in the end, all will be well and you will get what you always wanted. Even if that love was partly just lust.
I will give all marks for the production value, non-linear storytelling, technical details, core in realism, really good acting, decent background score, but if this movie ends up as a happy ending movie, it will only make me delete half of the marks I gave earlier.