Gamanam Movie Review
The lives of six individuals across the city change just as the city is reeling under floods. Will they all make it safely to the other side?
Director Sujana Rao makes her debut with Gamanam, a film that unfolds the lives of normal, everyday people – laying bare their beauty, innocence and strength. And seeing as how the film is an anthology, the newbie has the task of not just giving all her characters satisfying arcs but also delivering satisfying conclusions for each of them. The flooding might have been the ‘conflict’ of the story, but the way these characters are set up make subtle commentary on privilege, gender, class disparity and most importantly hope.
Hope is at the soul of the film, lending warmth to otherwise dreary lives. Kamala (Shriya Saran) is a hearing-impaired tailor who works at a mass-production clothing sweatshop and has a little baby to look after. She hopes not just to regain her hearing someday but also lies in wait for her husband to return from Dubai, even if he hasn’t been in touch since he left.
Ali (Shiva Kandukuri) trains hard in cricket and hopes to make it to Team India someday even if his grandfather (Charu Hassan) believes he should be a medico like his late father. His girlfriend Zara (Priyanka Jawalkar) lives in a strict household but harbours dreams of a beautiful life with Ali. Two little rag pickers, who live in a dump yard, work at a birthday party one day and hope to make enough money to experience a puttinaroju. The little one of the duo wants a ‘topi shaped’ cake even if he doesn’t know the date of his birth.
Despite the hope these individuals harbour, every one of them is often told to believe otherwise. Connecting them all is not something beautiful but a city drenching in unforgiving rain, with each of them doing everything they can to stay afloat – both literally and figuratively. Sujana does a good job of fleshing out the characters before we get to the thick of things. She might take her own sweet time, making some viewers impatient, but it’s required if you are to invest in these characters later on when they’re waist-deep in water. It also helps that all the lead actors do their best to get into the skin of these everyday people.
However, the ways some moments play out leave you wanting more, lacking the emotional heft that’s required of such scenes. She even reveals some of the best dialogues of the film in the trailer, making one wonder if she should’ve saved those for the film for the desired impact. Some of the tracks will seem reminiscent of Vedam or Kaaka Muttai in the way they’re set up or played out, but the similarities end there. Ilaiyaraaja’s score for the film is surprisingly lacklustre.
The scenes where she first hears with the help of a hearing aid and when she learns the truth about her husband show why she’s perfect for this role. Shiva Kandukuri pours life into Ali, a young man who just wants to pursue his passion and make his grandfather proud. Some of his best scenes are with Charu Haasan, who also delivers a stupendous performance. Priyanka Jawalkar gets the short end of the stick when it comes to her character but she really gives it her all.
The boys who played the rag-pickers will steal your heart and leave you with a lump in your throat. Suhas, Nithya Menen, Bithri Sathi, Raj Kandukuri get cameos that work.
That said, Gamanam might not be the film for everyone. If you’re someone who gets impatient unless the film is ‘fast paced’ and needs masala moments, this is definitely not the film for you. But if you’re someone who has been waiting for Tollywood to tell poignant stories, this is for you. Sujana’s debut film might be a mixed bag but it’s worth a watch if you love such cinema.
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