Most anthology films invest huge faith in chance, of things happening in the same time at the same place. Most hyperlink films invest their faith in the semblances of the human condition, of different lives being strung together by a common scenario playing out in different ways. This much exploited genre has always remained inspired, intriguing, and introspective, strictly owing to the richly chaotic and diverse nature of humanity's existence. Telugu Cinema has seldom ventured here, the most recent example only being Krish's "Vedam". It's a pity the intense fabric of life in the Telugu states doesn't get any attention from writers in Telugu Cinema.
Prashant Varma's "Awe!", thankfully, takes a few strings from this fabric, albeit using outliers for dramatic effect. The different segments of this anthology film span multiple genres, from horror, thriller, everyday humor to satire. To Varma's credit, each is very carefully written, setup, and directed. Handling multiple genres that eventually blend into each other is a recipe for disaster, but Varma wisely uses all the usually ignored cinematic tricks in the book to his advantage. This is a film that adores textbook lessons of storytelling via cinematography and editing. The angles, frames, pans, cuts, and transitions that are usually placebo or even awkward in other Telugu films come together adeptly in this film, helping pace the film and its mood. This allows for a great balance of the film's main texts whilst enabling a great stage setting for its subtext to pop out. Yes, the overall writing is over-expository or preachy at times, but for a film with an unusual pretext like this to be completely subtle is impossible in the times Telugu Cinema is going through now. That subtext of the film, is usually used for dramatic abuse and never with an empathetic angle elsewhere, but that's not the case here.
Kajal Aggarwal delivers, what is possibly, her best work here. Thoroughly emphatic, it calls attention to all the directors who have failed to give her better roles over the years. The rest of the cast includes a slew of capable actors, all very good here - Nithya Menen, Regina Cassandra, Priyadarshi, Srinivas Avasarala, Eesha Rebba, Murli Sharma, Devadarshini Chetan and Kaitlyn D'Mello. Mark K. Robin's music is ample mostly, so is Karthik Gattamneni's camera work. But it is Gowtham Nerusu's editing, as aforementioned, that makes the film all the more savory.
It maybe a bit under-appreciated now, but "Awe!" will surely remain one of the more study-able works ever produced in Telugu Cinema. Out in theaters now....
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