Cast: Priyadarshi, Kavya Kalyan Ram, Venu Yeldandi, Racha Ravi and others.
Music: Bheems Ceciroleo
Cinematography: Acharya Venu
Producer: Harshit Reddy – Hansitha Reddy
Writer-Director: Venu Yeldandi
Star producer Dil Raju who is known for bankrolling big-budget films with star heroes most of the time has come up with a small movie titled 'Balagam'. Venu Yeldhandi who made a name for himself as a comedian has turned into a director with this film. With talented artist Priyadarshi playing the lead, this movie set in Telangana backdrop has arrived in theatres today and let us dive into the review straightaway to find out how the movie is.
Sailu (Priyadarshi) is a youngster from village in Telangana. He wants to start his own business and grow in life. Along with the money which came after selling his father's land and a few loans, he starts to do various businesses. But none of them work out. In the meanwhile, his marriage gets fixed. He plans to clear the loans with the money he gets as a dowry. But his grandfather dies suddenly. Sai's marriage too gets canceled due to a small issue. With no option left to clear the loan, he decides to marry his cousin Sandhya (Kavya Kalyan Ram) as her family is quite rich. Will his plan work out? Did he convince everyone? What happened after his grandfather's death? All these form the crux of the story.
Tollywood is the care of address for commercial movies. They produce one of the best commercial movies that cater to everyone. But there are some movies which come every now and then that reminds you of the village atmosphere, regular people in the world and the sweet nothings that happen in everyone's life. Such films have become a rarity in the Telugu film industry over the past few decades. Till the 90s, we saw a lot of village backdrop movies in Tollywood but some of them were way too dramatic. We don't find a lot of films that are quite naturalistic in their approach. It looks like Telugu filmmakers are getting inspired by Tamil and Malayalam films or they are decided to go back to their roots because movies with authentic backdrops are coming at regular frequency these days. 'Cinema Bandi' had Rayalaseema backdrop, 'Jayamma Panchayiti' had Uttarandhra backdrop, 'Rangasthalam' had Godavari backdrop, 'Dasara' is going to be set in rural Telangana and many more. Some of them became hits and some didn't. But a big producer like Dil Raju stood in support of a small film with a pure heart. Comedian Venu Yeldhandi has showcased another side of him as he became a director and came up with a native Telangana local story with beautiful visuals. It gives a fresh experience to the viewers and you feel like you are in the middle of that village where everything is happening. For people who want to take a breather from regular commercial flicks, 'Balagam' is a sweet village movie that you will enjoy.
A Kannada movie named 'Thithi' which came 8 years back created a sensation. Ram Reddy who is a Telugu director made this film. It revolves around a 'death' but it is not a sad melodramatic movie. It runs on a very entertaining note but has an emotional touch at the end. Venu may have gotten inspired by that movie as 'Balagam' also revolves around the death of a person. But it is not a copy at all. The movie starts with the death and what happens till the 10th day ceremony of the person is the story. But there is a lot of fun in the movie and the drama worked well too. The emotion at the end will touch your heart as director Venu leaves you with a good message. But the lag in between and a few repetitive scenes will test your patience at times.
'Balagam' shows you a village and its people who are still not influenced by the urban living style. Venu came from such a village and he decided to showcase the kind of village and people he grew up around. No one looks like they are acting. It feels like we are watching a bunch of real-life village people and the daily happenings in their lives. Their behavior and dialogues are very realistic. The movie revolves around the entire proceedings that happen after the death of an elderly man in the village. The women crying, the rituals, the differences between relatives, the food arrangements, people drinking at night and all other things were shown in a very entertaining manner. The naturality stands as the major attraction of 'Balagam'.
The drama around completing the dead man's wish in order to make his soul rest in peace is shown in a very touching manner. Despite the melodrama becoming a bit too much at the end, it does not disturb the experience. The small misunderstandings, the stubbornness of son-in-laws in villages and how small issues create a divide between the families are all very well presented. The detailing given to nativity and dialogues is appreciable. Though the initial scenes move quickly due to the fun factor, the pace goes down during the middle. We get a feeling that the story is going nowhere but Venu covers it in the last half an hour. The Telangana people will connect with this movie instantly but people from other regions should also watch this movie in order to get a better understanding of Telangana people and their mindsets. 'Balagam' stands as a special film among the regular movies Tollywood produces most of the time.
Though Priyadarshi and Kavya Kalyan Ram are named hero and heroine of this film. They are not presented in such a way and they look like any other character in the movie. Not just them but no other artist looks like they are acting. They owned up the characters and gave a very natural performance. Everyone did a very good job. The actors who were seen as the fathers of the hero and heroine were fantastic and the actress who did the heroine's mother role was impressive as well. Even director Venu came with a short cameo and Racha Ravi along with the person who did the hero's friend role suited him perfectly.
All the technicians understood the soul in the story and gave the perfect output. After delivering a super hit commercial album like 'Dhamaka', Bheems Ceciroleo shocked everyone with his work in this film. His Telangana folk songs and village tunes are very pleasant to hear. Every song is beautiful to hear and 'Potti' sung by Ram Miryala is amazing. His background score had the required native touch. Visuals from Acharya Venu definitely stand as a major plus point. The production banner did not aim for richness but went for naturality which worked out brilliantly. Dil Raju backing such a project should be appreciated.
Comedian Venu made a good start as a director with this movie. We will be surprised to see this talent from Venu who is usually known for his comedy skills. He wrote the story out of his experience and the situations he saw. He brought out the emotions very well and handled the comedy scenes with ease. Despite a slow narration, 'Balagam' is a good film and there is not much to complain about Venu's work.
Verdict: 'Balagam' – A Story From The Heart Of Telangana!