This is one I saw a while ago and swore I would blog about it, but been too lazy to actually get to it. Well, laziness no more! Jai Chiranjeevi! Oh wait, that's another movie... well then, insert whatever you shout out when joyous about something in Telugu! I think this time my favourite interjection, rrrreeyyyy, doesn't quite cut it...
Back to Indra. It starts off with all kinds of killings between two factionist families, in fact so many I had to watch it twice to figure out who the heck managed to survive the massacre. Turns out I'm just slow, the answer was very easy: no one. Except for... Indrasena, the youngest son/grandson of one of the two factionist families.
|Little boy needs some work on his thigh slapping skills, but he's badass enough...|
Namak: I realized that we love factionists on this blog, all the movies we've seen involving factionist Reddies have been fantastic. Arya 2 anyone?
Dolce: I know! And especially the ones where the main character has his own theme song to accompany him whenever he walks in, slow motion shots, purposeful walk, wind blowing in his lunghi and mustache...
Namak: Whoa, let's leave it at the wind blowing in his mustache, shall we? I know we love Chiranjeevi, but still...
Dolce: Sheesh! You're always thinking of mischief, you filthy mind! I was just trying to subtly praise his earthy wardrobe and the lack of satin and sequins in it! So much for subtlety!...
I do appreciate that the Megastar finally managed in his 50s to have a consistently decent wardrobe for his films. It was starting to get really scary, as much as I love glitter everywhere.
|Chiru in State Rowdi (1989)|
Did I get distracted again? Oh dear, blame it on the shiny pants! Well, we're definitely in the new century with the wardrobe in this one. He even has a bandana around his neck, Pokiri style. Vah!... And the week-old beard suits this new look perfectly!
But enough objectifying. The plot! The plot goes something like this: Shankar (who, predictably is the same person as the Indra we saw as a child, played by Chiranjeevi in adulthood) is trying to raise his niece and nephew in Varanasi, where he has a job as taxi driver... When really he should have a job as a professional singer, but that's a different matter. In this avatar he meets Pallavi (Sonali Bendre, no better in this Telugu film than I remembered her from Hindi films, but still very pretty) who for whatever reason decides she will marry him. It's the week-old beard, I tell you, it must be!
At any rate, Sonali's overacting is superb in this film, she normally annoys me, but this was perfect for the role!
Namak: First third??? Dude, how much longer does this film go on for?
Dolce: Chill, we haven't even found out that Shankar and Indra are the same person.
Namak: That's a lot of set-up time just to introduce two characters that are relevant to the story. I would have chopped up half of these scenes if they're not going to bring anything to the story.
Dolce: What, and give up on half an hour of week-old bearded Chiru? Never!!
Regardless of whether or not the editor of the film was as in love with this beard thing as Dolce, the fact remains that the plot takes a looong time to settle in.
But when it does... We get kidnaps, Prakash Raj in hysterics, and even a helicopter to follow a train - granted, not as entertaining as the one in Magadheera, but still:
Ah... I live for such randomness!... Don't get me wrong, I love my cheap truck full of rowdies, but when they spend the extra dollar/rupee for helicopters and trains, you know the good stuff is yet to come!
The film really picks up from this point on, with twist after twist after twist, and a badass second heroine to boot! Aarti Agarwal may not have her own theme song when she walks in, but she still manages an explosive entrance, the kind that is usually reserved for the heroes. Ok, maybe the hair flips are not exactly hero-like, but this lady is on fire, and a pleasant change from the drama-queen Sonali.
|Badass hair-flipping Snehlata Reddy|
Namak: The second heroine sure makes for a good hero: she even crosses her legs when she sits down!
Dolce: Yea, this movie seems to have two heroes and one heroine, rather than the other way around.
Namak: Which explains the length of the first half. The plot of the second half could have made for an entire movie just by itself, but then there would have been no romance. I suppose that's fair.
Lots of good stuff happening in the second half: a Rrrhey shouting match between Sunil and Veer Shiva Reddy, a great scene of trashtalking between Indra and Veer Shiva Reddy before their fight (I love those!), some fabulous scenery, great choreography by Lawrence Raghavendra and Chiru's own Ghanan Ghanan song which is beautiful (and impossible to find on youtube in its Telugu version, so I suppose the Hindi dubbed version will have to do).
But it's not just the shallow stuff that gets my appreciation: some interesting religious symbolism in this second half as well! I'm particularly fond of the scene where the priest encourages Indra to go and fight without worrying about the ritual he is interrupting, because Lord Rama was also forgiven when he did the same to fight a demon. Perhaps one day I'll have to look deeper into the idea that dharma excuses all trespasses, an idea used often in Southie films (via Bhagavad Geetha, I'm sure), which are much more religiously/mythologically inclined than Hindi films.
All shallowness aside, there are a lot of themes packed in this film: religious differences, social issues and power balance in villages, women's place and power in the family (more than just from the point of view of the doting father or the jealous brothers), and surely a few others I'm forgetting right now. Sure there's over the top everything, and Chiru even gives me the impression he's taking this role seriously, but then he does a little smile for a split second, and I know he's just having fun with it. As was I.
I love Indra. It's over the top at times and even outrageous, but nonethless it's such an entertaining watch! So I suppose it delights me in the same way that cheese strings do. So many ways to play with them, and yet a great snack with plenty of nutritional value. Sure, not the fanciest cheese in the world, but sometimes I like to stop being a snob and just have fun.