Akbar Kalam (Kamal Kamaraju) is an auto driver in a small town Devarakonda (Nizam area). He is a poor guy who wants to pursue his degree through an open university, but fails in English language due to lack of coaching. Lakshmi Jandhyala comes to Devarakonda along with her parents and siblings after they lose everything in Polavaram. Lakshmi wants to start her life afresh by taking the responsibility of running her house by preparing pickles and selling them. Lakshmi's father hates Muslim community and asks his family members to stay away from them. Lakshmi likes the individuality and the Good Samaritan nature of Akbar. The rest of the story is all about how Akbar and Lakshmi get united.
Kamal Kamaraju: Kamal Kamaraju was a little inflexible in the role of a cop in Godavari. But he is a revelation in this film. He understood the character well and acted like a perfect method actor. His expressions, body language and dialogue modulation are impeccable. His performance in the scene where he questions the chief minister is awesome. Telugu film industry has got yet another fine actor in the form of Kamal with Avakai Biryani film.
Bindu Madhavi: Bindu Madhavi is very attractive in the role of a heroine. She is quite photogenic with perfect Telugu features. But she has to work on the body language (especially hand movements and postures). And if we don't find her character endearing in this film, it is not her fault. We generally have the tendency to mistake the characterization as the acting. Her character loses out in this film because of the poor characterization done by the director.
Others: Rao Ramesh mixed the dialogue delivery of his legendry father Rao Gopal Rao and the body language of Prakash Raj to play the character of Masterji in this film. Though Rao Ramesh is pretty good, he should consider underplaying the characters than dominating them. The guy who did the role of tapori (hero's friend with goggles and blade) oozes ease coupled with and spontaneity. He is a precious find in this film. The characterization of this guy's character is good. The kid who did the role of hero's assistant is terrific.
Story - screenplay - direction: Earlier Anish Kuruvilla directed a short film called 'Confessions of a Filmmaker' and screened it to the press. After watching the film, I felt that he is a director material but he has to work on expressing his thoughts in a systematic way. But again, it was supposed to be a short film and a personal film.
When you make a full-length feature film like Avakai Biryani for the public, there is some minimum structure/grammar to be followed while narrating the story. There are certain set of methods to be adhered to in order to evoke emotions among the audiences. He did not follow any of it. The direction of the film is ok in parts. But the screenplay is bad. Narration of the film is pathetically slow. It literally moves at a snail's pace. There are glaring mistakes/loopholes in the script.
If the producer were someone else, I wouldn't have even bothered to write down a review. A film like Avakai Biryani is quite unexpected from Sekhar Kammula who gave a new meaning to Telugu movies with the films like Dollar Dreams, Anand, Godavari & Happy Days. All his films had nice emotions.
When Sekhar Kammula produces a film with somebody who he has worked for three films, we expect the film to have good structure/grammar. It is ok if the director could not translate the emotions from script to the screen. But what if script itself has a problem? Sekhar told that he gave a nod to the script. How can he okay the script, when it is so incomplete?
There are three scenes that made me smile in the film:
1. When grandma says poindi.. poindi.. pooooooindi. (power problem)
2. After Rao Ramesh tells muthyala muggu dialogue about vooru being kotha pelli koothuru, a guy questions ‘em CM vachi pelli chesukuntada?’
3. ‘Ee vooru manadira’ episode during auto race.
There are two scenes that impressed me
1. Two small girls trying to get some water
2. Hero questioning CM (most impressive scene. In fact I expected the film to take Swades route after this)
Let me analyze some aspects in the film:
1. Love story: The love saga between Hindu girl (avakai) and Muslim boy (biryani) forms the crux of the story. It is established right in the beginning that heroine's father is a Muslim-hater. And father's hatred could be used to create a nice dramatic impact. But father is conveniently sent to an other village and he will only return and realize in the last 15 minutes of the film. What happened in the one and half hour between has no interest value to the main plot of the film. The lack of any conflict point makes the middle part of the film uninteresting.
2. Characterization of heroine: Heroine is said to be an independent girl who wants to feed the entire family by selling pickles. But her pickle business part is shown in the latter part of the second half by leaving her ambition and individuality to the wind.
3. Characterization of Masterji: Masterji is said to be the shrewd yet cruel landlord in the village. His characterization goes awry by the time story progresses. A shrewd guy like Masterji accepts to give away all his autos if the hero wins the race. And he runs away from constables like a comedian at the end!!!!
4. Characterization of Babar: He is supposed to be the top goon in the village. He threatens Akbar all the time. But when Akbar approaches heroine's house in the night, Baber will be going away fearing him.
5. Expelling from the village: There is a dramatic moment in the film when Masterji expels hero from the village. Everybody would be curious to know what hero is going to do. A few more scenes would have added some interest value to it. But the director shows an immediate solution to it and fixes the problem.
Other departments: Cinematography is the highlight of the film. The framing and the camera movements are lovely. The vast landscapes are captured with a lot of aesthetic sense. Music of the film is another plus point. All the songs are very good. Good music and good cinematography makes the song visuals more appealing. Dialogues should have been more interesting. Editing should have been better. Production values are nice. Anish Kuruvilla should be appreciated for extracting the best from cinematographer and the music director.
Analysis: The first fifteen minutes of the film is good where all the characters are introduced. But movie fails to take off from there. The CM episode is good, but no efforts were made to capitalize on it. The prolonged auto race in the second half looks more like a climax point in the film as people have forgotten about unresolved point is the love story between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy by then. The second half lacks emotional impact and is devoid of gripping narration. Lack of consistent conflict point makes Avakai Biryani insipid. It is an honest effort from Anish Kuruvilla, but falls short of the threshold level. Though the cinematography, music and intentions are good, a bad screenplay and painstakingly slow narration makes Avakai Biryani taste bitter
Hyd premiere coverage
Pre-release party in US
Anish Kuruvilla interview
Anish Kuruvilla chat transcript
Bindu Madhavi chat transcript
Bindu Madhavi interview
Kamal Kamaraju interview
Sekhar Kammula interview
reviews of previous 5 films
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