Erra Bus review: Once upon a time

November 14, 2014 08:18 pm | Updated 08:18 pm IST - Hyderabad

Vishnu Manchu and Catherine Tresa

Vishnu Manchu and Catherine Tresa

We are given to believe that the urban-rural divide is no longer what it used to be, say, three or four decades ago, unless the rural zone in question is in the middle of nowhere, with no connect to the urban landscape. And Palakollu is certainly not cut off from civilisation. So when thatha (played by Dasari Narayana Rao), arrives in Hyderabad from Palakollu, and showers in the fountain of an apartment complex and even washes his clothes, or later mistakes an Apple mac for a sandwich maker and puts in on the gas burner to make sandwich, it isn’t remotely funny.

Unless someone has been living in a time warp or under a rock, elders today know what a computer is, irrespective of whether they use it or not. The backbone of Erra Bus is the character played by Dasari. He’s a naive elderly gentleman who comes to Hyderabad to spend three months with his grandson Rajesh (Vishnu Manchu) before he goes to the US on work. ‘Erra bus’ is a colloquial term that refers to a villager whose rustic traits make him stand out like a sore thumb in a big city.

The intention of this film is a rather good one — urging city dwellers to show some faith in old-world wisdom, even if it doesn’t seem sophisticated, and incorporate it into their lifestyles. Fair enough. But painting a grossly one-sided picture of people in the big city to heighten the simplicity of a small-towner doesn’t help.

In this big bad urban jungle, thatha finds himself at a loss. He cannot give a sweet to a child in the neighbourhood without inviting the wrath of a mother who is concerned about what’s being fed to the girl and doors are slammed at him when he goes asking for Aavakai pachadi . Not one family in the apartment complex is shown to be having an elder in the family. Whatever happened to uncles, aunts, parents and grandparents?

Unmindful of hurtful reactions from others, thatha basks in the love shown to him by the grandson.

The grandson’s love interest (played by Catherine Tresa) is so annoyed at thatha’s ways that despite being an educated, independent woman of today, she will not think rationally and learn two sides of the story before lashing out at Rajesh.

The film is a seemingly unending representation of the wile ways of the concrete jungle that reaches a crescendo with an overtly melodramatic climax. In between, there’s a doctor (Shankar Melkote) who woos Krishnudu dressed as a woman; a long-drawn argument between thatha and Brahmanandam on why the crow has more relevance to our daily lives than the beautiful peacock, celebrated as the national animal. When the crows have their revenge on Brahmanandam in an almost Hitchcock-ian (pardon the comparison to Birds ) manner, it is impossible not to cringe.

Vishnu does a good job as the youngster devoted to his grandfather and Dasari makes his part utterly believable. The story and narration, though, seem dated and at many times, grating.

Erra bus

Cast : Dasari Narayana Rao, Vishnu Manchu and Catherine Tresa

Direction : Dasari Narayana Rao

Music : Chakri

Genre : Family-social drama

Bottom-line : A tiresome watch.

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