Vishwak Sen, Rukshar Dhillon and Ritika headline the film with assurance in this clean, well-made family entertainer
Last Updated: 08.07 AM, May 06, 2022
Arjun Kumar Allam (Vishwak Sen) is in his early 30s, pestered by all those around him to marry quickly. Just when there’s light around the corner, an alliance with the elder daughter of the Pasupuletis, Madhavi, there’s a twist in the tale. Will Arjun finally marry the girl of his choice?
From the days of Gundamma Katha to Bommarillu and the more recent Pelli Choopulu, Telugu filmmakers have constantly used marriage as a backdrop to tell stories around a gamut of issues that affect our daily life. Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam borrows a leaf out of many such films and still manages to have its own identity, addressing many taboos in and around us with a lightness and sensitivity that warms us inside.
The story is of a man in his 30s, eager to find the woman of his dreams, amidst pressure from near and dear. There’s constant cacophony around him about his age, and his need to marry. There’s a worry he’s already late into the game. But what’s the hurry for? This issue forms the crux of the film.
Coming from the team that delivered another blissful, tender romance like Raja Vaaru Rani Garu, the beauty of this film too lies in its ambience, its atmospherics, and the vivid, colourful characters. The setting works even better because the makers utilise the minor tensions between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh regions and their rich, beautiful slang that works like a dream to amp up the humour quotient.
The story starts on a light-hearted note, but the narrative hints at the tension in the girl’s life through her silences. The conflict between families of different communities and regions, and the attempts of the bridegroom’s family to prove their supremacy, add to the tension in the true-to-life proceedings. The film touches upon delicate issues that often arise in arranged marriages, throwing light on the unfair demands of the bridegroom’s families.
Arjun Kumar Allam may be the lens through which the story is told, though the film is more an honest attempt to look at the world through a woman’s eyes. Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam even takes the pain to explain the prickly feeling experienced by a woman when there’s no consent in a relationship. In the form of Arjun too, we have a man who’s gentlemanly on most occasions and masculinity isn’t reduced to physical bravado. There are no preachy dialogues, the director suggests these with little, delicate gestures.
The film loses its spunk briefly while trying to establish the romantic equation between Arjun and Vasudha in the latter half. A drunken brawl scene, used as an excuse by the writer to vent out Arjun’s feelings for Vasudha, could’ve been imagined better. Arjun trying to shift the blame onto his ex and Madhavi for all the problems in his life, feels a little too convenient.
The fight sequence, where Arjun’s male saviour instincts kick in, to rescue Vasudha from a group of goons could’ve been avoided altogether. The narrative regains its momentum once Madhavi returns to the household. Despite being well-intentioned, the scene about the female child bias appears forced and sticks out like a sore thumb. The dramatic finale, though predictable, drives home the film’s essence to perfection. It states why it’s important to not fall prey to societal expectations, concerns around ageism and why it’s okay to marry late (or even not marry at all).
This is a sugarcoated pill made for the mainstream audience but puts its point across without playing to the galleries. From the issue of a woman having to bear the burden of a household’s respect in the society to the absence of freedom to pursue their dreams, Ashoka Vanamlo Arjuna Kalyanam is firm in discussing its intent. The setting is simple, familiar and the film conveys its point in a medium that entertains and informs at the same time.
In brief parts, it can also be termed a lockdown comedy when the near and dear of the soon-to-be bride and bridegroom are forced to stay in the same household when they aren’t even on talking terms. The supporting cast comprising Goparaju Ramana, Kadambari Kiran, Kedar Shankar, Dubbing Janaki, Rajkumar Kasireddy and others hold the fort admirably in these segments. The key factor here is that the writer and the director find the right balance between reality, believability and entertainment.
There’s not even an iota of doubt when we say that this is Vishwak Sen’s career-best performance. It’s a relief to see him minus the forced machismo of his previous films and play such a sensitively written part to perfection. Rukshar Dhillon emotes well despite having minimal dialogue and Ritika Nayak is spontaneity-personified in her lively performance. Pavi K Pavan’s cinematography and Jay Krish’s terrific album contribute to the film’s feel-good, refreshing vibe.
Full marks to the director Vidya Sagar Chinta and writer Ravi Kiran Kola for delivering a film that has the lightness of the weather on a misty morning and yet raises its voice on several important issues plaguing our society. Vishwak Sen, Rukshar and Ritika headline the film with assurance and we have a clean, well-made family entertainer that engages and provokes a thought too.