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'Majili' movie review: This Naga Chaitanya-Samantha film has its heart in the right place

Samantha and Naga Chaitanya in ‘Majili’

Samantha and Naga Chaitanya in ‘Majili’  

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Shiva Nirvana gets Naga Chaitanya to put forth his career-best performance

Majili cements the presence of Shiva Nirvana as a writer-director from whom we can expect some good films. This is a different canvas from his debut, Ninnu Kori, and he uses it to make us forget the star-actors and look at the characters they are portraying. And that isn’t easy when the stars are the industry’s much-loved couple whose photographs on social media give many of their followers ‘couple goals’.

We see Naga Chaitanya and Samantha in a complex journey of relationships. We can look at Majili as a story of two couples. We can also look at it as a story of three daughters and how their lives are intertwined with one man. Slipped into this is also an endearing bond of a father and son.

Majili
  • Cast: Naga Chaitanya, Samantha, Divyansha Kaushik
  • Direction: Shiva Nirvana
  • Music: Gopi Sundar and Thaman

The first daughter we’re introduced to, Anshu (Divyansha Kaushik), has a lot of spunk and is a bit of a rebel, trying to shake off things that tie her down. She keeps her fiancé waiting outside her car while she ushers in another guy, just to apologise for her behaviour. She speaks up when she disagrees with her future mother-in-law. Beneath that tough exterior is a girl who hopes her father (Atul Kulkarni as a naval officer) will understand her. He, instead, reminds her of discipline. As Anshu falls in love with aspiring cricketer Poorna (Naga Chaitanya), who has his own rough, politics-ridden world of cricket to deal with, we hope Anshu’s parents would stand by her.

Much later, we meet another daughter, Sravani (Samantha). She works with the railways and shoulders a chunk of financial responsibilities along with her father-in-law (Rao Ramesh). Her father (Posani Krishna Murali) looks on haplessly at her plight and wants to see her in a happier space. All that Sravani gets from her husband Poorna, who’s now a failed cricketer with a bitter past, is indifference. He talks to her occasionally, like when he needs money. The way this scene plays out says everything about Sravani. She’s all giving, to the point that we want her to stop. Samantha, who’s been at the top of her game in the recent past, delivers another good performance. She’s ably helped with Chinmayi’s voice.

The story of these daughters unfold in the milieu of power struggle in city-level cricket. As the narrative shifts between Poorna’s brooding present and his late teens when he was a mix of naivete and hot headedness, we see a new Naga Chaitanya. He looks the part and shines in his portrayal of a young, aspiring cricketer. There’s an unmistakable sense of him having surrendered to the film and his role as he moves through the rugged journey of relationships.

The earlier portions are probably set in the early 2000s, going by the Maruti Zen. Divyansha has an easy screen presence and is a welcome addition to Telugu cinema.

When things slow down and threaten to go down the predictable, melodramatic path, Shiva Nirvana uses humour to show us the listless lives of the key characters. Rao Ramesh and Posani are the additional lifelines to this story.

A special mention to ‘Yedetthu Mallele’ sung by Kala Bhairava and Nikhita Gandhi, composed by Gopi Sunder. It’s the film’s leitmotif and works well, along with Thaman’s background score and Vishnu Sharma’s cinematography.

Majili could have been crisper; it could have been smarter and avoided a few predictable turns, especially with the new character in the later portions; it could have also dealt with Subbaraju’s character better. However, it has its heart at the right place and that made me root for its characters.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 7:26:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/shiva-nirvana-gets-naga-chaitanya-to-put-forth-his-career-best-performance/article26744325.ece

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