Saturday Telugu: Anand, Which Should be Titled Rupa

What an interesting movie!  Now I can see why everyone was excited about, but not surprised by, Fidaa.  Clearly this director knows how to build complicated imperfect female characters and reward them with a perfect love story.

This is one of those films where I know, 5 years from now when I am 5 years further along in my Telugu journey, I will have a whole different sense of its place in film history.  The Rangeela effect, as I think of it.  Rangeela being the second Hindi film I ever saw, and a movie I really really really did not understand or appreciate at the time.  I am sure it has a specific meaning and changed certain things, and influenced certain things, and was influenced by certain things, but right now all I have is that it was a good movie and definitely could see that it was made by the same person, Sekhar Kammula who made Fidaa, but earlier.

The thing about Fidaa is that it doesn’t pretend to be a hero’s journey.  It was about the heroine, all the way.  Sai Pallavi was an exciting new actress and we all knew that Sekhar had waited for her to be available to make this movie.  All the images to promote the film showed hero and heroine equally, but while Varun Tej was calmly sipping coffee, Sai had her head thrown back, laughing with abandon, glowing into the camera.  You were told in all kinds of ways that this was going to be a movie in which Sai is the one who shines, who takes the lead, who is the important one.

Whereas this movie is named after the hero.  For no good reason that I can see.  It is our heroine’s story, start to finish.  She is the important one, the unique one, the one who makes decisions and changes things and changes people.  She’s also the better actor!  Kamalinee Mukherjee does a phenomenal job in this role being average-but-not-unimportant, and she has gone on to an excellent career.  Meanwhile, Raja’s performance is fine but not super memorable, and he has gone on to a career that’s okay I guess.  He works steadily, but that’s kind of the most that can be said about it.

It’s not even that the hero feels like the second lead.  He feels more like the 3rd or 4th lead.  First is our heroine.  Second is our heroine’s best friend.  Third is the general community she lives in.  And only after all of that comes our hero.

Our hero comes late in the plot too.  Our heroine has so much going on in her life, soooooooooo much.  The hero is part of a very small part of it.  He’s the final resolution of the last little bit of her story, but most of her story is unrelated to him.  That alone makes this an unusual film, a film in which the majority of the plot is about the heroine’s internal conflicts, unrelated to her romance.

 

 

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What makes this film interesting, right from the start, is that there is no twist that is hidden from the audience.  We see a young teen girl Rupa saying good-bye to her family and shutting the door after they all leave without her for a wedding.  And we see a man leaving a bar, drunk.  And then inevitably we see his car hit the car of the family.  He stumbles down to find them, injured, arriving just in time to hear the father say over and over “Rupa! Take care of Rupa”.

And then we see Rupa, all grown up, still living in the same house, surrounded by memories of her family, and played by Kamalinee.  There is no mystery, we don’t have to have her or anyone else explain that she lives alone because her family is dead, she is in the odd position of a traditional woman who lives in a family home but without a family, that she is trying to do the right thing and be a good daughter as best she can even if there is no longer a family there to watch over her.  To not be that wild naughty girl who her mother yelled at, but the proper girl she wanted her to be, sitting up straight and studying her books.

We also don’t need a huge backstory for our hero “Anand” played by Raja. We meet him chasing after his father, the man who killed Kamalinee’s family, who is happily chanting “Rupa Rupa”.  We know in a few tight scenes that Raja’s father regressed to childhood after the trauma of that night, but in his own way has remained obsessed with the charge he was given, to take care of Kamalinee.  His wife tolerates his behavior and has become the head of the household.  His sons happily and lovingly chase after him and play with him and try to make him happy.  And Raja has returned to India not to see brides, as his mother thinks, but to sneak his father into Kamalinee’s wedding.  And at the wedding, Raja finally sees Kamalinee face to face and falls in love with her at first sight.

That alone could be the plot of a different movie.  The son of the man who killed her whole family falling in love with her.  But this movie was more ambitious than that.  It didn’t want to make a big ridiculous dramatic film of coincidences and fate and so on, it wanted to make a small strong story instead.

Raja was merely our introduction to Kamalinee’s life, and the tragedy of her childhood was just the start of her journey.  Now, she is a pleasant kind young woman who has singing lessons in the morning on her front porch, then goes to her office job, takes with her friends at the bus stop, then comes home to have dinner alone, and then sit on the terrace with her best friend Satya Krishnan.  She isn’t modern or rebellious or poetic or brilliant or any of that.  She is just a nice young woman who gets through her work day and drinks her morning coffee and wants to get married and quit her job.  But she has to be self-reliant in all these dreams.  She can’t ask advice of her mother or her father or anyone else when she makes these decisions, because they aren’t there.  And so she is struggling through the world, trying to figure it out for herself.

I find her first failed romance much more interesting than her romance with Raja.  Not that I want him to actually be with the first guy, but the way it plays out is something I haven’t really seen before.  We meet them at the end.  Casual morning phone calls, counting down to the wedding.  And then at work, casually sharing a coffee cup, talking wedding plans, him reminding her that she has to be extra polite to his relatives.  They aren’t passionately in love, but they are comfortable, they are happy, they are building up a life.

Or, are they?  Kamalinee goes to meet her fiance female relatives, dressed carefully in a sari, bows to touch each of their feet, while her friend Satya watches in horror at how she is changing herself.  That is why the romance falls apart.  Not because her fiance is cruel, or because she is in love with someone else, but because his family would expect her and force her to be something she isn’t, to leave behind her own hard won identity.  Kamalinee walks out of the wedding because her future mother-in-law tries to make her wear a family sari instead of her mother’s wedding sari that she always dreamed of wearing.

And then it keeps going.  Into an ugly ugly break-up.  He keeps coming around, talking to her, trying to warm her up at their mutual office.  But she is still happier free of him, back at work, back in her own home, than she was when she was trying to be something else to please his family.

And in this ugly confusing time in her life, Raja appears.  He has 3 months while his mother is out of town before his MBA exam, and he spends it renting a room from her neighbor and slowly infiltrating her life.  He befriends the little girl next door, and the old grandmother.  Slowly he wins over Satya, until she starts giving him advice.  And he romances Kamalinee in his own odd way.  He makes her angry, he makes her tease, he makes her smile, he makes her come alive and return to that wild unladylike little girl she was before she had to become her own mother and father.

That’s half of it, slowly getting her to a place where she will propose to him, she will kiss him, she will joyously go after what she wants in live.  But once that is accomplished, the other half is to give her back her family that she has lost.

Raja has been romancing her mostly on his own, following her and saving her from her evil ex and doing all kinds of nice things.  But at the very end, now that he has her, he introduces her to his mother and (more formally than before) to his older brother.  And they are delightful!  They give Kamalinee the loving family acceptance she has been craving this whole time.  She has her teasing big brother back, and her loving gentle kind mother.  And that loving gentle kind mother is wise enough to see that the marriage cannot continue without truth and without trust.  Raja has to tell her why he was at her wedding, that his father killed her family.  Because finding out after marriage would just not be fair to either of them.

And in the end, telling her is what cures her.  To discover that she hasn’t been alone all this time, that Raja’s father has spent all those years saying her name, thinking of her, that she had a family waiting for her all along. That she is lucky to have fallen in love with a boy from this family, because this is her family.  She has been preparing herself to be the kind of daughter-in-law they want all this time.

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14 thoughts on “Saturday Telugu: Anand, Which Should be Titled Rupa

  1. I was just about to recommend this movie to you.
    I watched it a week ago, and even though the runtime is almost 3 hours, I didn’t get bored. And Raja is such a cutie! I haven’t seen him in anything else. Btw, Kamalinee did another movie with the same director called Godavari, which is also supposedly good.
    I loved Satya Krishna. Sad that she’s now relegated to the standard bhabhi roles in Telugu films now.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes. The movie in Youtube is almost 3 hours and I think this is an un-cut version. I don’t remember being it so long in the theater.

      Godavari is also a very good movie but it has many story arcs. Each arc has a satisfactory ending but I feel Anand is better.

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    • Satya Krishna was amazing in this! I really wanted her and the brother to start a romance, but that was never really confirmed.

      On Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 2:08 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Thank you for watching this movie. In my opinion, this is what Badrinath ki Dulhania should have been.

    One of the reasons this movie is ground breaking is the contrast between rupa’s love interests. Rahul vs Anand. By traditional wisdom, Rahul is better choice. He is older, partnet in a successful business, assertive and clearly in love. He tries to plead with Rupa to compromise about the saree but never outright says she is wrong. He is thoroughly conservative and would never leave the marriage, abandon the family. He has a big family which would support their kids no matter what.

    In contrast, Anand is a student who dropped out of MBA for a semester for someone he saw for a few seconds. Even though he says its for 3 months, from the hints in the movie, he is in that house for 1 year. So he probably dropped out of MBA for a chance at love!! He might be richer than Rahul but he depends on his mother for money so if the mother is not happy with his choice, he could be kicked out of his house. He lets himself be bullied through out the movie, gets insecure and eventually leaves the place when things get really tough.

    Rahul symbolizes security and Anand stands for freedom. When this movie released we were all Rupa’s and Anand was the one we dreamed of. Not because he is handsome or rich but because we could still be an individual after getting married.

    The timing of the movie is also important because early 2000s is when Telugu girls started entering workforce en masse. We started getting high-paying STEM jobs which sort of changed the dynamics of relationships, marriage dynamics in a short span of time. With this new found financial independence, Rupa could easily reject the golden cage offered by Rahul. If she could do it, we all could!!!

    To be continued…

    Liked by 1 person

    • This movie, like Fidaa, I really felt the gender roles being flipped. Anand was the homely, kind, emotional, supportive one that Rupa had to take care of a little (let him use her bathroom, borrow her bike). Rupa would rather have a man that supported her work and her independence and her freedom, rather than one that she would have to support. Only, like you say, that goes against conventional wisdom. So it took her a while to understand her own heart, both that she didn’t actually want the “good” match with Rahul, and that she did want the ridiculous illogical match with Anand.

      On Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 4:50 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. There is also the way Rahul’s mother and Anand’s mother are portrayed in the movie. Both are without a strong husband and have a strong influence on their sons. When ever a strong mother is shown in Telugu movies, she is loud, mean and mostly incompetent. Influence of an authoritarian mother (Aada Pettanam) is usually considered bad and such mother almost always tamed by a smart son-in-law or daughter-in-law. So characterization of Anand’s mother is also very refreshing in this movie.

    A lot of my friends argued that Rupa loved Anand after he revealed who he is but I don’t think that’s true. Anita hints Anand that his proposal will be welcome before he revealed it so his money never entered the picture. I think the director made him rich because he didn’t want to go too much against traditional wisdom and also show Anand’s mother as a strong, successful woman can be compassionate and be a loving mother. Also another reason is that Anand basically buys a job in Rupa’s firm so he probably couldn’t get a job on his own. Another negative for Anand but we still love him anyway.

    I feel Raja was not able to complete justice to the character and after watching Premam, I realized Nivin Pauly would rock in this role!!!

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    • Nivin Pauly would be perfect in the role! You have to be willing to be soft and supportive, while still able to show that you are a man.

      I also liked the two mothers. We were primed that the stay at home mother with the son would be the soft retiring one, and that the one who runs a business empire and all her family is a little afraid of her would be the aggressive one. But it turns out to be the reverse.

      Which is kind of also part of our heroine’s story. You would think the working woman who lives alone would be the modern bossy tough one, but in fact Rupa is sweet and traditional in many ways, it is her friend who lives with her grandmother and doesn’t seem to have a job who is the modern aggressive one. You could argue the bigger message that being trapped in the home makes a woman into a petty tyrant, while letting her go out into the world will help her stay balanced and happy.

      I agree, I think the money wasn’t that important. They needed a reason that Anand could just drop out of life and live in Rupa’s outhouse for however long it was, and having money of his own was a simple way to explain it. The point had to be that he gave up everything to be near her, but without making it look like he had no plan for the future and was irresponsible. Family money would do that. And I think Rupa’s feelings changed at that point because Anand’s feelings changed. Not talking about his money was part of his general willingness to look available to her, to live for her. But once he beat up Rahul and declared his wealth, he was signaling that he was done following along behind her, and Rupa had to become the aggressor to win him back.

      On Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 5:22 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I’m glad you enjoyed Anand! This is one of those movies that showed up on tv a lot when I was a kid and my favorite scenes tended to be the ones with the kids.

    Godavari is another Shekar Kammula movie starring Kamalinee Mukherjee but I didn’t like it as much as I liked Anand. It’s an interesting movie as well but I felt that Kamalinee’s character was kind of annoying. The Shekar Kammula movie that I would recommend that you watch next is Happy Days. It’s a story of seven college kids and their friendships, relationships, and stuff throughout their time at college. It’s really good and it was the debut of many actors including Tamannaah who became the biggest star. The movie is on youtube with subtitles if you want to check it out.

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      • Both Godavari and Happy Days are good but I prefer Happy Days.

        By the way, are planning on checking out Tholi Prema? It came out this weekend and has good reviews. I won’t be able to see it until next weekend though.

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        • I was going to see it Friday maybe, but then snow EVERYWHERE, so I couldn’t. I’d still like to, but it seems unlikely, unless I manage to sneak out for a midweek showing.

          On Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 7:19 PM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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