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Yevade Subramanyam: A quest for identity

Nani in 'Yevade Subramanyam'

Nani in 'Yevade Subramanyam'  

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A commercial film works like a mathematical formula, carefully planned to please a star’s fan base, with handpicked ingredients that will appeal to the urban, semi-urban and rural pockets. It doesn’t matter if the story is as old as the hills. Rarely do we come across a film that deviates from these norms and urges viewers to do the same. Debut director Nag Ashwin’s Yevade Subramanyam is that rare film.

Somewhere in the Himalayas, Subramanyam (Nani) is clinging to a precipice and hoping for a miracle. His spectacles falls into the deep valley and all he can think of is Rs. 20-22,000 he spent on it. Much later, he would admit to his mountaineering companion Anandi (Malavika Nair) that he really didn’t need glasses. He sports them because he read that there’s an eight per cent chance that people take you more seriously. This Subramanyam is your regular Joe, focussed on climbing the corporate ladder. A snow-capped mountain peak is the last place where you expect to find him.

Nag Ashwin throws his protagonist out of his comfort zone and makes him search for his identity. There’s a bit of Subramanyam in most of us — living by a timetable, doing things to fall into a pattern acceptable by society. Every now and then a friend would have nudged us to drive home the pointlessness of it all; when was the last time we took a road to nowhere and savoured each moment of the experience. Subramanyam’s childhood friend Rishi (Vijay Devarakonda) is a polar opposite to the corporate climber, is not tied down by a job and dreams of heading to Doodh Kashi, a lake in the Himalayas. It seems impractical, even foolish, when he keeps egging Subramanyam to accompany him. The two chance upon Anandi, another free-spirited soul who likes Rishi’s idea.

The trip, when it eventually happens, occurs without Rishi. The little details that have gone into the characterisation of Rishi, Subramanyam and Anandi speak of Nag Ashwin’s mettle. Subramanyam, the reluctant mountaineer, thinks he can navigate the steep slopes with a Google map, embarks on the trip with a large suitcase while Anandi, with her backpack, is thrilled at the adventure ahead.

Up in the mountains, eating a basic meal of momos and learning to find comfort in the smallest of accommodations, Subramanyam learns to look at the larger picture. His transformation takes time and he begins to understand where he stands in life, death and love beyond the rat race. To strike a comparison, Subramanyam is like Hrithik Roshan of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, who planned to work and earn till a certain age and then savour life. What if life doesn’t wait for him?

Nag Ashwin sprinkles Yevade… with interesting characters. There’s Pratap Pothen who observes the cycle of life in a butterfly park and there’s the spirited Sowcar Janaki who basks in the loving care of Anandi. There’s also a potential business rival who doesn’t think much of losing the company he built over the years. It’s as though Subramanyam is given enough signs to take the path of self discovery.

Nani is a fine actor and lives the part of Subramanyam, mirroring the insecurities of the work force caught in a rat race. As he sheds the corporate mask, he comes into his own, one step at a time on the mountains. Malavika Nair shows a lot of spunk and comes up with a matured performance for a newcomer. Vijay Devarakonda has been cast well and fits the bill of a rebel.

The pace slows down a bit in some portions, but that’s perhaps the way this story needed to be told, drawing in viewers to savour the experience. The writing is sparkling with smart, fun lines peppered through the film. The cinematography complements the proceedings.

Radhan’s music and background score comes alive, changing according to the terrain. There’s a bonus track from Ilayaraja as well, beautifully capturing the budding romance between two unlikely characters thrown together in a journey.

Go watch Yevade Subramanyam. If you like the idea of breaking free and living by your own rules, you’ll nod in agreement.

Yevade Subramanyam

Cast: Nani, Malavika Nair and Vijay Devarakonda

Direction: Nag Ashwin

Music: Radhan

Story line: What happens when a corporate guy sets out to the mountains to fulfil his friend’s wish?

Bottom line: A refreshing film. Don’t miss.

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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 1:43:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/yevade-subramanyam-a-quest-for-identity/article7018796.ece

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