Cast: Rajendra Prasad, Kalyani
Direction: Kranti Madhav
Music: Sirivennela Seetarama Sastry
Plot: A school teacher returns to his village to find it completely transformed
Bottomline: A plea not to break the umbilical cord that binds one to the village
While rains play truant this monsoon, Onamalu ushers a beautiful shower of memories. It is a latest feather in thespian Rajendra Prasad’s cap after Aa Naluguru and Mee Sreyobhilashi and it is one of those movies that he can flaunt with pride. You don’t have to take a break from the regular films that has the protagonist wielding the sword and reeling off rhyming prose which sends fans into a tizzy but spare some time to feel the gentle breeze playing on your cheek, witness lads jumping into a stream in gay abandon and hear the harmless gossip of villagers and all the niceties that come with the purity and innocence of life in a village.
In New York, Narayana Rao maastaru is pining for his village even as his busy son keeps putting off the travel plans to India every year. Maastaru leaves on his own, and while travelling from the airport to his village in a cab he reminisces his origin, his life and times as a school master. The moment he steps into his village, his enthusiasm and happiness gives way to shock and disappointment. People have no time for each other even in death, they are glued to their television sets, packaged water is being consumed, senior citizens are being packed off to old age homes, cows which were once worshipped and fed with fresh vegetables are being sent in droves to the slaughter house and technology grabs all the manual labour. His first night is spent watching the group photograph of his pupils and he resolves to meet a few of them.
The film doesn’t show negativity, it simply shows the brisk transformation of the village into a neo-city where people have one foot in the village and one foot in the city. The teacher gently tells people that branching out like a tree is a good achievement but one shouldn’t forget the roots and should remain grounded because the future of the students and the country is inextricably linked to the village. He meets each of his popular students — while some have changed for the worse, others have imbibed beautiful values that would make a teacher and a nation proud. He also says a teacher just shows the way. At the felicitation ceremony for the teacher, a villager questions the people, “You come here for ghee, pickles et al but have you ever thought of contributing something for the village?”
Khadeer Babu’s dialogues are simple yet priceless, cinematography increases the proximity between the village and the viewer and editing is fine and the ensemble performances are good. Kalyani and Raghu Babu impress. The songs are like textbooks on life, loaded with substance and meaning, encapsulating the entire story. Debutant director Kranti Madhav shows immense promise and grip over his work and the producer should be lauded for believing in the subject.
The film is a tribute to the teachers who have laid our foundation and the villages of India and all over the world. A gem of a story this!