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Anukoni Prayanam review: Amateurish, half-baked treatment undermines an arresting premise

The lockdown drama solely rides on Rajendra Prasad’s broad shoulders, but is that enough?

Anukoni Prayanam review: Amateurish, half-baked treatment undermines an arresting premise
Anukoni Prayanam

Last Updated: 02.35 PM, Feb 26, 2024



Rajendra Prasad and Narasimha Raju are masons working in Bhubaneshwar. The two are inseparable friends who find solace in each other’s company despite their challenges in life. Days before the COVID-19 lockdown, they’re asked to leave the site and return to their hometowns. However, their journey begins on a false note when one of the friends dies of a heart attack. How far can a man go to fulfil his friend’s wish in a curfew situation?


Anukoni Prayanam goes back in time to make the viewer relive the plight of migrant labourers stuck during the COVID-19 lockdown. The labourers are displaced from work sites as if their lives mean nothing. The film traces the journey of two masons on the way back home to a village in Andhra Pradesh and strives to be a commentary on interpersonal relationships and the ruthless ways of the world through a personal tragedy. Full marks to the idea but does the execution live up to the promise?


The death of a pivotal character always lays a strong foundation for any premise to take off. Here, the story isn’t only about two friends who happen to be labourers or the lockdown but is also about ensuring a dignified end to human existence, documenting the challenges faced by the protagonist to stay true to his word. The plot points and the conflicts are solid and it’s hard to imagine that any filmmaker could mess up an emotionally dense story like Anukoni Prayanam.

The main challenge for a director with such a story is to preserve its sensitivity over a two-hour runtime. The inexperience of Venkatesh Pediredla in handling the drama dilutes its potential. The screenplay has several promising ideas. Burglars turn out to be more empathetic than average humans. The protagonist receives help from unknown quarters. A game of snakes and ladders (Paramapada Sopana Patam) is used as a metaphor to convey the highs and lows of human existence.

The two principal characters are as different as chalk and cheese. While Rajendra Prasad is a loner who values friendship over marriage, Raju bats for companionship and familial relations. The film is also about how Rajendra Prasad’s outlook towards life changes over a journey. While on the move, Rajendra Prasad experiences a gamut of emotions - despair, hope, gratitude and fear. There are a handful of characters that cross paths with the lead - an ayurvedic doctor, a lorry driver, a cop, a burglar and a nurse.

The homage to Sholay’s Yeh Dosti in the middle of a dreary situation is interesting. The filmmaker tries his luck with dark humour as well though it isn’t in good taste. Although peppered with a few smart ideas, the storytelling is old-fashioned and lacks juice. To metaphorically suggest that a character is no more - the kumkum on a woman’s forehead is amiss and the man’s glass portrait breaks into pieces.

Several portions of the film are as hysterical as a television soap. Anukoni Prayanam makers adopt a verbose approach to suggest the film’s subtext and become too conscious of helming a message-driven film. For a major part, the thought of ‘what Anukoni Prayanam could’ve been’ in the hands of an experienced filmmaker crosses your mind. Had Paruchuri Brothers been in prime form as writers, Anukoni Prayanam would’ve left a different aftertaste.

Rajendra Prasad is an ideal casting choice for Anukoni Prayanam. Despite his experience, it requires a filmmaker with a clear head to ensure that Rajendra Prasad doesn’t override the soul of his character and that’s where the film falters. Some enthusiasm from Narasimha Raju would’ve brought energy to the proceedings. Prema, Subhalekha Sudhakar, Ravi Babu and Tulasi do justice within the scope of their roles.

Siva Dinavahi, the composer, proves to be a promising find and his unhurried and soulful compositions linger on your mind long after the film’s over. Mallikarjun Naragani’s aesthetic sense enriches the visual appeal of the film. Jagan Mohan, the medico-turned-writer, comes up with an impactful story. A lesser runtime with precise dialogues could’ve done the trick too.


Anukoni Prayanam has a fantastic, emotionally dense story but first-time filmmaker Venkatesh Pediredla struggles to translate his ideas onto the screen. Rajendra Prasad’s composure, Siva Dinavahi’s music and Mallikarjuna Naragani’s cinematography are the major assets of the film. If Anukoni Prayanam came with a report card, the final comment would’ve been ‘can do better’.


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