Radha Mohan and Prakash Raj are a duo with an enviable track record. Their earlier films in Tamil, for instance Mozhi (language), established them as a director-producer duo capable of dealing with sensitive issues with finesse, interlaced with comedy. The Telugu audience will know this combination through Akasamantha and Gaganam. So, when this duo picks up a subject like honour killing, naturally we are perked up to see the end result.
Gouravam, introducing Allu Sirish, tells the story of a city-bred youth confronting caste issues in a little hamlet. Arjun (Sirish), son of a rich business tycoon, is sent to a village by his father to oversee a project. Once in the village, he hopes to meet his college buddy, Shankar, but is told he has eloped with the village headman Pasupathy’s (Prakash Raj) daughter. The villagers not only feign ignorance of the couple’s whereabouts but warn Arjun and his friend (played by Sreecharan) against fiddling with an internal issue.
Arjun meets Yamini (Yami Gautam), a young lawyer on a break, donning the hat of a Good Samaritan in the village. Together, they are determined to find the truth.
How often have we come across such a subject in Telugu cinema? With a well-written screenplay, a capable set of actors and good music, this could have been a game changer. But at the end of the 125-minute long film, you leave disappointed and even bored. The story is narrated in an old-fashioned news reel documentary style. Barring a couple of scenes in the latter half, you fail to connect emotionally with the issue, the lost couple and the friends in search of them.
There are a few promising aspects here and there, like the autistic boy who keeps sketching, the soothsayer who predicts good tidings for the village and the large group of youngsters who land up in the village and set camp on a river bank. But the narrative fails to weave together any of these aspects into an intricate story.
Once the who and the how of the crime is revealed, when the hero launches into a sermon, your patience is tested. Good storytelling would have helped state the message of standing against the caste system without having to resort to lengthy dialogues.
It’s commendable that Allu Sirish showed courage in choosing an unconventional story for his debut. On the acting front, there’s a lot of learning that needs to be done. Yami Gautam looks pretty and tries hard but is let down by poor characterisation. Barring Prakash Raj and Brahmaji, none of the supporting actors make an impact.
Thaman’s music, apart from one folksy number, is a letdown. Preetha’s cinematography manages to capture the raw, at times barren and rocky terrain of the countryside rather well.
It’s an unusual subject but the film fails to translate it into a gripping social drama. And that’s a pity.
Cast: Allu Sirish, Yami Gautam, Prakash Raj
Direction: Radha Mohan
Plot: A city-bred guy tackles social issues head on in a village while in search of his friend.
Bottomline: A good premise, but the film fails to build it up to give us a riveting watch