Friday, October 29, 2010

Prasthanam Review

Politics, family feuds, goondas, drugs, love, fights, Prasthanam's got it all! But, let's face it, mostly politics. And broken families.

You get sucked into the imagery of this Telugu movie right from the opening shots: an old orange-hued house that breathes heavily with memories and a man walking around it. What happened to this house and the people in it is then shown in a black and white sequence. I appreciated the symbolism of the truck burning with orange flames over the black and white background, making the connection between the past and the present, a connection sewn with hate and revenge that seem to keep feeding the fire to this day.

The movie gets very confusing when it moves to the present time though. Forget figuring out who was campaigning against whom, I couldn't even figure out who was whose brother!! Sheesh! And let's not even go to the sisters, sister-in-laws and future wives, or any combination of the above.

Even so, some of the dialogues are so hysterical that they make you forget all about who was whose brother and sister. Like this one:
Hero: "These are your friends? They look more like belly dancers."
Heroine slaps hero's friend: "If you have no fashion sense, keep your mouth shut!"
Hero's friend: "Bin Laden attacked and Saddam got bombed! He made a comment and you thrashed me??"

I have to remember this one! I like it! As I liked pretty much all the banter between the hero and the heroine, some damn good chemistry there. Too little of it unfortunately...

Another random thing I really liked was that there was a Salvador Dali painting in almost every room of their house. Interesting choice of decor, I approve. I wonder if the Metamorphosis of Narcissus has any symbolic meaning in this particular room... Hm...

Namak: Hey, speaking of random thoughts, notice that on top of the "smoking is injurious to your health" warning at the beginning, they also put in a dialogue about how the son has taken up the bad habit from his father, on account of heroism? I like that, creative and subtle, it talks to the parents as much as it talks to the kids.
Dolce: Yeah, but it hardly gets the point across. This Sharvanand is second only to Mahesh Babu in terms of looking extra cool with a smoking tube in his mouth, so I don't know about other kids, but that dialogue would never work to prevent me from picking up the habit... Now excuse me, I need to focus on the hotness of that bearded look on Sharvanand.
Namak: Right, of course you do. Well, to be fair, he seems to have grown some acting skills too, along with that beard, so I won't complain too much about this new crush. (Though I would much prefer him silent, if I may be honest, he takes it away for one of the most annoying voices after Tabu.)

It's not just Sharvanand that does justice to his role, the rest of the cast is quite capable as well. And with well etched characters like these, you know you have a good movie in your hands.

The relationship between the two brothers in particular is worth a mention. Maybe it's because I am always interested in a good Cain and Abel type of setting, but I found their motivations and reactions to be the most fascinating: jealousy, love, indulgence, entitlement, respect, envy, guilt, each emotion comes into play at the right time and both actors showcase them efficiently. And they are all fueled by the parents' behaviour, almost as if the brothers had no choice but to grow up feeling the way they do. As their final confrontation approaches, you forget about breathing and sipping on your drink, and your muscles tense up because Abel has grown so much on you that you want no blood on his hands. And yet your sense of justice tells you... there should be no safeguarding Mark for this Cain.

Titian - Cain and Abel - one of my favorite illustrations of this scene

Then of course, for good measure, and to make sure the movie doesn't walk away with a perfect 10 for script and execution, there are also moments like this...
Namak: Did he... wait... did he just slap the bad guy with his sandal while screaming: "You're going to get cancer! Get cancer! Get cancer!"? That's just... hilarious!
Dolce: Um... I'm trying to find some justification for that one, but sorry, I got nothing.


[ETA: Bharath, a Telugu speaker, informs me (thankfully!) that the  English subtitles don't really do justice to this dialogue, so take it with a grain of salt.]

And while on the topic of wtf moments, for anyone who has yet to watch the film, I would strongly suggest watching this song first, and skipping it when it comes up in the second half of the movie. It's a cool song that suffers from the worst placement in recent history. Better watched separately, in my humble opinion.

Comic relief aside, parts of the film reminded me a lot of Raajneeti, to the point where I kept expecting Nana Patekar's sly smile to appear out of nowhere, but that could be because I just saw him in another movie and remembered how much I love that man. Speaking of Raajneeti, Prasthanam somehow manages to appear more realistic, and it's not because there are less people murdered with no consequences for the butchers (if anything, there are more killings, just better spaced out), but because the film is set up in such a way as to make that seem integrated in the characters' lifestyle. Had Raajneeti built on a similar set-up from the beginning instead of doing that 180 turn in the middle of the movie, I bet no one would have had any problems with the bloodbath in the second half of the film. Of course, I mean that cinematically speaking, not ideologically. I found myself having way less moral issues with Mitra than with Samar mostly because he seemed to have been brought up that way, and thrashing people was just ingrained in his personality and to a certain extent his culture, I didn't have to suspend disbelief to buy that side of his character.

Moral issues notwithstanding, Prasthanam also gets very dark around intermission, and unlike the dazzling filmi spectacle that is Raajneeti, this one will turn your stomach upside down with a few very believable scenes. Though it does commit the same sin as Raajneeti by overstaying its welcome. Still, with a few snack breaks and a song or two here and there to break it up, it manages to stay on the interesting side for most of the last hour. Especially since there's another black and white twist to the tale. Than than thaaaan!...

Hah! I haven't done a cheese rating in so long, I may have gotten rusty at it. Let's see... Prasthanam is like... Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's harsh and rough, and it won't cooperate when you try to cut it to size. But if you let it have its way, it's sure to make it into more than one dish on your table, as it has something to entice every taste. It may remind you of other cheeses, but the unmistakable flavour will ensure it holds on to its rightful spot in your memory. You may remember the bitterness more than any other taste, but sometimes, that's what makes a cheese, and a movie, special.


Anonymous said...

Aha! A first South Indian Movie Review I have ever read :D.. and quite interestingly, I liked it too :P

Not that I don't like South Indian Movies, but given the reputation they have, I watch them when I've nothing, absolutely nothing better to do (though there are some really, really good South Indian movies that I've seen).

Anyways, that's not the point. The point is that, after reading your review (and specially because you somewhat compared it to Raajneeti) I'm now willing to watch it. :)

Dolce and Namak said...

Oh, do watch it. It's very well done, and hopefully you'll get a better copy of the DVD than mine. Mine kept pausing and cutting bits of the film, and the subtitles were awful. :( But the movie is well worth a watch I say, and it ties things together better than Raajneeti (which I also quite liked). And yes, there are a lot of similarities, including a better integrated (in the plot) half-brother.

And since you will probably understand the political side better than me (I was horribly lost in the beginning and couldn't for the life of me figure out what they were challenging each other over), come back and let me know if that made sense. I make no promises for it :)

Though the more I think about it, the more I realize the movie is really about the relationships between the family members. That part was indeed treated very maturely.

Oh, and get snacks! :P I've been putting it off for months after rushing to buy the DVD the week it came out, because it's 3 hours long... :-/

Bharath said...

Hey..nice review. But the 'die with cancer' part..just because of awful subtitles it sounds hilarious :-( . Due to lack of correct words they might have used it. But when heard in native language you'll find the correct meaning. The guy is just letting out his frustration and cursing the bad guy in the native language.

I can definitely say, Prasthaanam is one of the best telugu films I ever watched and I haven't heard such awesome dialogues in any other film.
So, please don't go with the subtitles.

OMG, luks like I'm letting out my frustration now :-)

Bharath said...

btw, the song that you mentioned and couple of other songs and unwanted comic scenes are deleted from the movie after first day screening in theaters :-)

Anonymous said...

aptly written review on prastanam, evn abt de song, i just fwded it whn im watching the moive. now i need to go back watch it again.

Dolce and Namak said...

Oooh, thank you, Bharath!! For both pieces of information! Soooo glad it was only the subtitles (I kind of suspected it, but usually I can guess the real meaning behind bad subs, this one left me completely puzzled :)). I'll edit my post to reflect that.
And so glad to hear that they did away with that song and some of the comedy moments (hopefully none of the comedy moments between the cute couple), these were my only true quibbles about the otherwise very well written film. And that must have also adjusted the length, which is also great since it seemed a bit too long to me.
But thank you once again for the great news! It makes me really happy when little things like this get corrected even if it is in the eleventh hour. Now I suppose I'll have to start hunting for the theatre version :)

@ Anonymous - thank you for the compliment :) Haha! Funny you felt the same way about that song. It's not bad on its own though (but then I'm a fangirl, so not sure how much one should value my opinion about a song that's made up of badass poses with the hero :P).

Bharath said...

Hey... thnx for editing the post :-). I'll try to pitch in if you write telugu movie reviews in future ;-). 'Gamyam' is another sensible movie that you could watch.It must be a 2008 release.

Bharath said...

ok sorry.. haven't checked ur archives..I see ur review on gamyam :-)

Dolce and Namak said...


Bharath, do pitch in with other recommendations too, if any come to mind. I tend to sometimes miss good movies if they don't star actors I know and like ;). (I also tend to watch a lot of garbage if my favourites are in them, but that's something no one can help me with... :P)

Bharath said...

Not sure if you have watched 'Ithe' and 'Anukokunda Oka roju' from director chandrasekhar yeleti... try them....'Ithe' is yeleti's debut movie and if its his own plot then it is definitely commendable.

Dolce and Namak said...

Aithe doesn't seem to have subs on bhavani :( so I'll have to hunt for it in other places (luckily it's an easy enough name to remember :P). Added the other one to my order, let's see what they're all about. Charmee is never a bad actress to watch. :) I'll remember to tell you all about it when I get around to watching it. Thx!

Nicki said...

Hey girlfriend, I had to skim through your review. I do plan to watch it. Glad you like it!

Dolce and Namak said...

Don't worry Nicki, I didn't put any major spoilers in there :) Can't wait for you to see it, I think you'll really like it, including the politics :P

Temple said...

Hi there! Heather & I discussed Prasthanam this week on our blog. We don't completely agree on the film, and she likes it much more than I do. I linked back to this post as you have written about the Cain & Abel theme beautifully, and it really is such a strong element in the film. cheers! Temple

Dolce and Namak said...

What? How could I miss that?? I thought I was keeping on top of everything, how could I miss you talking about one of my favourites this year? This must be remedied at once. On my way to read it :) Thanks for the heads up, Temple.

tolly said...

'Anukokunda Oka roju' is remade in Hindi as 'Sunday' with Ajay Devgan palying one of the roles I think.

Dolce and Namak said...

Interesting... Well, no offence to Ajay, but since I bought AOR, I'd rather watch that than the Hindi remake. ;)

Bharath said...

As far as I know director presented Sunday in a more comical way. AOR is much more gripping

Dolce and Namak said...

From what I read about it, I can totally see it successfully going both ways (The Hangover anyone? :)).

tolly said...

Hangover is a total laugh riot. Sunday surely cant be Hangover with the kind of storyline it had.
Yeleti did a wonderful job in AOR with its originanl story line and nice songs
(Chiru making an appearence at 2:51 :-))

Dolce and Namak said...

LOL Tolly, I'm sure it Sunday can't possibly beat the ridiculousness that was the Hangover :)

Arre!!! Or should I say: rrrhey!!! That's cheating! That's so not a Chiru appearance in that video! Shame on you, playing with my emnotions like that! :)

I have to watch this one soon, it seems :)

Krishna Bhargav said...

Adding one more blog to my list of frequently watched ones.. cinemachaat ( Heather and Temple ) , Nicki's and Louellas... :D

AWESOME movie.. with the caps on as you see.. learn the native language and you would watch this movie everyday only for the dialouges :D ;)

Great review :)

Bharath said...

"learn the native language and you would watch this movie everyday only for the dialouges :D ;) " .. I can't agree with u more krishna.. superb dialogues

Dolce and Namak said...

Oh, the two of you are just cruel! :D Give the girl a break! I'm already struggling day and night with Hindi, if I went to Telugu too I would lose my mind! :)

But welcome aboard, Krishna, you'll notice I'm not as prolific in Southie cinema as my friends across the two oceans/ across the border, but I do try to give it its due when it's called for. I have bouts of Southiness and then bouts of Bollywood, but you never know when the next wave is going to hit. :) Well, hope you're not disappointed and looking forward to seeing you around!

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