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Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam review: Good intent marred by simplistic treatment

Allari Naresh and Anandhi spearhead the film with assurance but the drama is diluted by unnecessarily long comic stretches

2.5/5rating
Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam review: Good intent marred by simplistic treatment
Allari Naresh and Anandhi
  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 08.39 AM, Nov 25, 2022

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Story:

Sripada Srinivas, a Telugu teacher and another English teacher are deputed for election duty in Maredumilli, a remote village in Andhra Pradesh. While their job as government officers is to ensure maximum voter participation, they face friction from villagers, who believe the election would do little to change their future. However, over time, they realise Srinivas genuinely means good to them. How does he win their hearts and to what extent can he go to ensure Maredumilli a promising tomorrow?

Review:

Stories like Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam are important in cinema. They reflect society, offer hope, give voice to the marginalised and make sure their concerns are heard by a wide audience. The film tries hard to be hard-hitting and socially relevant but does so in broad strokes. While documenting the social condition of the villagers, the film also aims to be a hero-centric mainstream fare with a mishmash of the navarasas. The result leaves you with a mixed aftertaste.

Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam gets a lot of aspects right initially. With Srinivas, the protagonist being a Telugu teacher, the film emphasises the respect he has for his cultural roots. Through his hilarious interactions with an English teacher, Srinivas speaks of his love for his language and why he holds it close to his heart. It tells you why Srinivas stands up for a remote village as if it were his own and doesn’t mind taking on the system if the need arises.

However, an issue with the film is its urgency for conflicts and solving problems. Even before Srinivas adapts to the realities of the village, he gets into saviour mode and is eager to transform their lives. He faces resistance but soon wins his odds with a ‘typically heroic’ act – helping an expectant woman deliver a baby (yawn!) in the absence of a hospital. After a hassle-free polling day, Srinivas aims for something bigger and the focus of the narrative shifts towards him, drifting away from the concerns of the villagers.

The filmmaker doesn’t quite address the ground realities of the villagers in great detail either and reiterates their demand for a school, a hospital and a bridge in every alternate sequence. The screenplay takes interesting twists and turns in the process but lacks focus. It tries to be a comedy and a few moments later, a hero-centric mainstream fare and soon reminds itself that the film was about the villagers. Itlu Maredumilli struggles to strike a balance between informing and entertaining and turns very preachy.

It’s not every day that you get to make a film about Maredumilli and this could’ve been a great opportunity to step into the shoes of its residents and provide an insider’s perspective of their story. Instead of empowering the villagers, the film tells them to find a hero in an outsider, committing the same mistake made by films like Maharshi and Srimanthudu. It’s as if Allari Naresh through Itlu.. is taking over from where Mahesh Babu had left in Maharshi.

The film discusses corrupt politicians, police brutality, and corporate exploitation and offers readymade solutions. The characters transform quite conveniently. The simplistic view of their lives is disappointing, ignoring livelihood issues, casteism, the ills within the system and what explains the negligence of agency regions over years. The repetitive use of the bull Veerabhadra as the saviour of the village undermines its impact. Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam offers hope though it succumbs to cinematic tropes eventually.

The performances are largely hysterical and it’s as if everyone needs to shout at the top of their voices to be audible. It’s only Anandhi and Allari Naresh who bring their experience into play and restore order. Vennela Kishore and Praveen make merry in the film’s lighter moments and Shri Tej finally gets a meaty part to prove his worth. Kumanan Sethuraman’s authoritative screen presence helps his portrayal. Sampath and Raghu Babu have nothing new to offer.

On the technical front, the rusticity in the backdrop is captured well by the cinematographer Raam Reddy and the ‘thriller’ specialist Sri Charan Pakala makes the most of the opportunity to reinvent himself as a composer. AR Mohan, as a storyteller, displays flashes of brilliance and going by his knack for humour, it’ll be interesting to see him handle a full-fledged comic caper in the times to come.

Verdict:

Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam is a simplistic rural drama about an outsider who fights for the dignity and identity of a remote village. The film engages in parts with its drama and humour though it lacks focus. Allari Naresh and Anandhi come out shining as performers while the cinematography and the music blend well with its ambience.

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