'Anaganaga O Athidhi' is now streaming on Aha. Starring Payal Rajput in the lead, the web film is just a 92-minute outing. Made in just 20 days flat during the pandemic, 'AOA' has released amid low expectations. Here is what we thought about the thriller.
This is an official Telugu remake of the 2018 Kannada-language suspense thriller 'Aa Karaala Ratri', which itself was based on a play written in 1980. As per the makers, the film is based on a true incident that took place at a village near East Godavari.
In 1980, Mallika (Payal Rajput) and her parents (played by Veena Sunder and Ananda Chakrapani) live in poverty in a hamlet. Sreenu (Chaitanya Krishna) arrives at their doorstep with a suitcase full of gold and wads of currency. The family hosts him when he seeks a lodging facility for a day. But when their eyes fall on the wealth in his case, the worst of basal instincts overtake them. This may well have unforeseen consequences. That's what the second half is about.
Director Dayal Padmanabhan has extracted neat performances. Payal plays a shocking character once again and she is convincing. Chaitanya Krishna delivers a subtle act with confidence. While Anand Chakrapani is at his usual best, Veena Sundar gets melodramatic at times. Tillu Venu is miscast.
Cinematography by Rakesh B is adequate. The BGM by Arrol Corelli lives up to the emotional thriller vibes of the film. The songs are helped a big deal by Kalyan Chakravarthi's profound lyrics. Vithal Kosanam's production design is able.
Unlike most thrillers, this one comes with unique sensibilities. Yes, there is a crime angle. But it's not about a psychopath or some serial killer, but about how a girl-next-door turns into a femme fatale.
The characterizations are a plus.
Kaasi Nadimpally's screenplay is elevated by the performances. Since it all ends in 90 minutes, there is no drag that the film suffers from.
Since it's based on a literary work, the film is embellished with a remarkable take on fate, human nature and destiny. The opening scene in which a religious guru delivers a sermon holds the key.
Greed and lust are shown to be all-consuming vices. You have to watch the climax to believe how disturbing the film is.
The film does have those over-philosophizing vibes. While the costumes, the behaviour of characters are understandably old-fashioned (because the film is set in 1980), there is also an overdoing of literary flavour.
The film is heavy and not everyone will find it engrossing.
'Anaganaga O Athidhi' is not your regular masala fare. Neither is it escapist. Don't expect run-of-the-mill elements like comedy. It is suspenseful and disturbingly emotional at once. If you have a stomach for poignant tales, you will like it. Otherwise, there are light-touch films like 'Middle Class Melodies' anyways!