Much of Telugu Cinema usually has a dearth of stories to tell. When it does find new stories to tell, it often lacks ingenuity in the narrative. This is a paradox, because the Telugu speaking regions aren't exactly short of stories to tell, proven by how illustrious our newspapers tend to get. Of course, a lot of films have their basis on the hinterlands of these regions. They derive their characters from there, their conflicts, resolutions, and emotions are inspired by them; yet the narrative is usually lost while being translated to formulaic tedium.
Hence, I was naturally elated that, with "Rangasthalam", even commercial Telugu Cinema had found a new language. A much needed, fresher one. Yet, one cannot neglect the feeling that the film, its language, characters, and background still feel like a staging, and not a setting. A well thought out, well executed one, but a staging nonetheless. That is not the case with "C/O Kancharapalem". It is one of those films that feels like the end product of a lifetime spent documenting a region, with a keen eye for events, details, and emotions.
"C/O Kancharapalem" gives us 4 stories about people finding love and its accompanying travails. Their reactions to this feel, sometimes predictable and sometimes not so much, just as it is the case with real people going through real circumstances. The dialogue reeks of details from the slang that is spoken in the Visakhapatnam region, which I'm familiar with, having spent some of my teenage there. It grounds the characters effectively; which is something the beautiful lyrics (by Raghukul Mokirala and Vishwa) do too, taking one back to the times when spoken Telugu had delicacy found only in the hinterlands. Indie telugu cinema is also benefiting greatly from the advent of Indie composers, the likes of Vivek Sagar, Sricharan Pakala, and in this case, Sweekar Agasthi, who bring a fine passion into their work.
The film lets it all unfold without any rush, it's patient narrative a huge credit to Venkatesh Maha's faith in his writing and directorial craft. Amidst its portrayal of love and its oft-troubling consequences, "C/O Kancharapalem" works beautifully in its parallel focus on the endearing quality of love - that if you give the other person your respect, faith, and their due chance, things always come around.
The film is out in theaters now.
P.S. - The film is produced by cardiologist turned Indie movie producer, Praveena Paruchuri, who also portrays a role rather quite well in the film. This is incredibly inspiring, pseudo crush-inducing stuff!
P.P.S. - (Major spoilers ahead) For what is essentially a story built on chronological events, narrated in staggered timelines - the writing shows impressive continuity by getting the design and the context of events just right - the way people talk, the things they do, the things they use - everything is written and shot in a way to feel reasonably real. But what shines more so, is how the protagonist finds love in women who embody the same personality, albeit coming from different places in life. They all stand up for their beliefs and integrity, by way of that, empowering his thinking. His love for them also manifests in similarly poignant ways - in going out of his own way to do little things that make a world of difference to them.
Atlantic City says so much about two people in a relationship, without saying too much.
A comedy that is fun, while being just good cinema in the first place.