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‘Dear Comrade’ review: A multi-hued romantic drama

Rashmika Mandanna and Vijay Deverakonda’s chemistry is palpable in ‘My Dear Comrade’

Rashmika Mandanna and Vijay Deverakonda’s chemistry is palpable in ‘My Dear Comrade’  

Rashmika Mandanna and Vijay Deverakonda shine in director Bharat Kamma’s film that underlines the importance of being a comrade

The opening scene is in a washroom and we see the protagonist in an inebriated condition and soon there’s a fight. He’s beating up people and in turn getting beaten up, until his friends come to the rescue. He’s brooding after a romance has gone sour. With Vijay Deverakonda essaying this character, it brings back memories of Arjun Reddy. Dear Comrade’s protagonist Chaitanya aka Bobby (Vijay) is also a student prone to anger. The similarities end there.

 

Bobby is at the forefront of the college student union, letting his rage take over while his friends (Sai Suhas and group) try to drill some sense into him. A few posters of Che Guevara and Marxist quotes can be spotted in the background. Bobby’s ideology and anger are similar to that of his grandfather (Charuhasan), a rebel in his younger days. There’s a passing reference to how the family has lost a lot, owing to it. The character of an angry young man in a college is also faintly reminiscent of RGV’s Siva, especially in the scenes when the people they love state that they fear for his safety.

But, a lot has changed since the 80s. An angry young man of today also has the responsibility of empowering others to find their voice and fight their own battles. Bharat Kamma drives home this point through a narrative that’s a little shy of three hours.

Dear Comrade (Telugu)
  • Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Rashmika Mandanna
  • Direction: Bharat Kamma
  • Music: Justin Prabhakaran

‘Let me be your comrade,’ Bobby tells Aparna Devi aka Lilly (Rashmika Mandanna). He doesn’t want her to trade her dreams of being a national-level cricketer to be with him. He wants to be in the cricket stands and cheer her. Their romance develops gradually and beautifully, with Justin Prabhakaran’s music being the perfect foil. In mainstream Telugu films where deviations don’t happen often, it’s nice to see the girl declare that her first love is cricket, even after she falls in love with Bobby. And he tells her that the day she starts loving him more than cricket, she needs to watch out. In these little moments, Bharat Kamma hints that Dear Comrade is not solely Bobby’s journey. It gradually shifts to focus on Lilly.

Ideally, we shouldn’t be looking at a film as two halves. However, in this film, the two halves do feel like different entities since the transition isn’t seamless.

 

Vijay Deverakonda and Rashmika Mandanna

Vijay Deverakonda and Rashmika Mandanna  

The story moves away from the warm and lively middle-class homes and college campus to the vast outdoors (cinematographer Sujith Sarang captures the different milieus well) as Bobby solo travels to seek solace in nature. He talks about sound therapy. Lilly’s healing isn’t that simple. Caught between a father who talks about family prestige and a boyfriend who wants her to fight, when she asks in desperation why no one will ask her what she wants, the struggle feels true.

Rashmika Mandanna is a revelation as Lilly and puts forth a defining performance, shifting from the confident cricketer to someone who isn’t sure of anything, any more. A lot of things are at play as the story progresses. There are portions where the narrative ambles along before it finds its groove, again. In these stretches, Rashmika and Vijay’s performances hold things together. The film has a whole lot of supporting actors, each one fitting well into their parts.

 

For Vijay, it’s yet another project where he shows that he’s happy living a character, shining as an actor and is in no hurry to be just a star. Whether he’s imbuing anger, mellowing down in romance or rising up to a task, he portrays the different shades of Bobby with enough conviction to make us empathise with his journey.

When the bigger picture emerges, it reinforces the import behind the title. In this story, the Comrade is male. But the idea Bharat Kamma drives home is, irrespective of your gender, be a comrade and shoulder someone who’s down and out, giving them courage to fight against injustice.

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Printable version | Jul 28, 2020 6:01:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/dear-comrade-review-rashmika-mandanna-and-vijay-deverakonda-shine-in-director-bharat-kammas-film/article28720258.ece

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