Tuesday Telugu: S/O Satyamurthy, Allu Arjun Does His Thing

I am getting more and more fond of Allu Arjun with every movie.  He has this attitude like he is playing someone playing a movie hero, you know?  It’s all just slightly exaggerated, and I love it.

The first thing I learned about Allu Arjun, from one of you lovely people in the comments sorry I don’t remember who, is that he changes his hair for every movie.  Which seemed like a very odd trademark to have.  And then I watched some of his movies, and I still didn’t get it.  It kind of made sense in Aarya 2, where the whole film existed in this kind of hyper reality and Allu Arjun’s hair was just part of it.  But in other films, it was like Allu Arjun was more focused on his hair than on his performance.

Image result for s/o satyamurthy

This is the film where it finally clicked for me.  His hair IS his performance.  Or, rather, his style of performing is always hyper-real, always about playing the role of a hero rather than just playing the character who is the hero in this film.  If you see what I mean.  He questions the whole reality of the film world by insisting on making at least his performance consciously un-real.

This is a film that could have easily been done “straight”.  A serious actor playing all the anguish of the situation, giving big dramatic speeches, trying to save the world.  But because Allu Arjun is in it, it isn’t quite that.  It’s someone play acting at being anguished, at giving big dramatic speeches, at actually thinking some film hero can save the world.

(Play acting at a village wedding song)

And this is why the performances I find most impressive are the two heroines, Nithya Menon and especially Samantha Prabhu.  Because they have to be slightly unreal and work with Allu Arjun’s unreality in their scenes with him, but also real in their scenes with everyone else.  Samantha matches Allu Arjun a little bit better, manages to be both superficial and just plain fun at the same time that we believe her feelings are real.  But Nithya is darn fun too, strolling around being a little bit too cheerful and confident in the middle of terrible situation.

Of course, what really makes it work is the title character (S/O Satyamurthy= Son Of Satyamurthy), Prakash Raj, Allu Arjun’s father.  Because just as Allu Arjun is slightly too much, Prakash balances that by being slightly too little.  Seeming like the pleasant casual guy you might meet on the road, somehow accidentally wandering into a movie.

 

 

 

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

 

 

 

 

 

Allu  Arjun starts by introducing us to his father Prakash, a rich man who is always willing to open up his wallet and help others.  Allu Arjun has a charmed life, he is planning a marriage to a woman Prakash picked out for him, he leaves the country for one last bachelor trip, only to have it interrupted by a phone call telling him that his father has just died in a car accident.  Following the accident, they have lost all their money, and his older brother has had a nervous breakdown.  It’s all on Allu Arjun, and he chooses to ignore the advice of fellow rich man Rajendra Prasad who suggests declaring bankruptcy, and instead sell the house and everything else they can and move to a simpler place while he finds work to support himself, his mother, his brother, his sister-in-law, and his little niece.

Allu Arjun is desperate for work and takes a job for an old college rival/friend as an event organizer, only to discover it is organizing the wedding of the fiancee who broke the engagement when he lost his money.  At the same wedding, he meets the bride’s best friend, Samantha, and starts to flirt with her.  Allu Arjun sets aside his resentment and saves the wedding when the dowry goes missing, gaining the friendship of his would-be wife and his would-be father-in-law, and impressing Samantha.  He and Samantha start a serious relationship, until he goes to meet her father and discovers it is Rajendra Prasad!  Who reveals that he doesn’t trust Allu Arjun, because Prakash before he died sold Prasad worthless land, land in the midst of a dispute out in the villages.

And we are off to the village!  To find our second heroine, Nithya Menon.  And another hero, Upendra.  Allu Arjun ends up captured by the village goon Upendra who is holding on to the land.  But after saving his life, he is offered both the land and his sister, Nithya Menon.  With Samantha and Prasad held captive in the same house to ensure he goes along.  Nithya cheerfully agrees, and then reveals that she is counting on the marriage failing, which will give her an excuse to cry and cry and request marriage to the one she really loves.  Allu Arjun is now trapped, he has to marry Nithya in order to clear his father’s debts, but he still loves Samantha.  And if he insults Upendra by refusing Nithya, he will be killed.  He decides to send false information to Upendra’s enemies, allowing Nithya to escape with the man she really loves and solving all their problems.  Only for it to come out that Allu Arjun set up the attack, both sides turn on him just as his mother and sister-in-law arrive for the wedding, at which point Nithya recognizes them and realizes Allu Arjun’s father died saving her life, dragging her away from being run over by a truck.  All is happy, Allu Arjun and Prakash’s philosophy of doing good whenever possible has reaped rewards, the land sale is resolved, Samantha and Allu Arjun can be married, and so can Nithya and the mans he loves.

 

Like I said, it’s a classic Telugu plot.  Noble father, troubled young man who rises to the occasion, city beginning and village ending, and so on and so on.  But the hero in the middle is not quite taking it seriously, not in the same way they usually do.  Which makes it possible for the audience to not take it quite as seriously as they usually would.

It’s kind of ridiculous that Allu Arjun decides to lie to his niece that they are part of a reality TV show to keep her happy.  It’s frustrating that he “saves” the wedding by saving the dowry, instead of challenging the concept of dowry.  It’s also a little ridiculous that, because of money driving a wedge between them, Samantha’s parents have not spoken in years and communicate through post-it notes.  But, see, Allu Arjun knows it is ridiculous!  He wears silly hair and behaves in a non-traditionally masculine way because this whole movie is kind of silly, this whole idea of a world is silly.

(Also silly, this hero introduction song)

Samantha knows it is a little silly too, she plays up her character’s jealousy, and love and silliness.  While still making us believe she is sincerely in love and wants him to marry her and will be heartbroken if he doesn’t, giving us the necessary motivation to keep the plot moving along.

Really most of the actors take their cue from Allu Arjun.  As is appropriate, that’s what you do with a star lead film.  And so they all go just a little bit over the top, a little bit silly.  And the plot goes a little bit silly too.  It’s not just that Allu Arjun has to stay in the house of a violent village bully, he has to stay in his house but also help hide all the violence from his wife, fights suddenly stopping and she walks in and out of the room, bodies hidden under flour bags, etc. etc.

And I love all of this!  Was that not clear?  I really really love it!  It’s exhausting to take movies seriously, to parse out how the heroines are treated as commodities and manliness=violence and true social progress is resisted by the narrative and on and on and on.  So much better to just relax and know that they aren’t taking it seriously so the general audience won’t take it seriously so I don’t have to take it seriously.  Oh Allu Arjun!  Thank you.  For a lovely little night off.

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “Tuesday Telugu: S/O Satyamurthy, Allu Arjun Does His Thing

      • Can I recommend Pournami to you? It wasn’t received well when it released. But I’ve seen non-Telugu speakers like it better than Telugu folks. I’m curious about your opinion.
        Overall it was a mixed bag, but there are things to be excited about. Period setting, good soundtrack, Prabhu Deva directing it before he moved to Hindi (Remember he did the cute Nuvvostanante Nenoddantadana) and Prabhas and Trisha’s crackling chemistry.

        Like

        • Sure, recommend away! I also realized when I checked his filmography that I still haven’t seen Rebel. And that’s supposed to be a good one, right?

          On Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 7:01 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

          Like

          • Oh dear. That is probably why I have heard about it so much. I get confused between “best” and “worst” and jsut remember “that title sounds familiar, I know people told me something about it, but what?” This is also how I ended up watching Pullimurugan.

            On Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 7:39 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Like

          • “I get confused between “best” and “worst” and just remember “that title sounds familiar, I know people told me something about it, but what?” LOL! You give us so much nice stuff to read, we’re happy to recommend interesting stuff and more importantly make sure you stay away from terrible ones. I can’t remember, but did you watch Prabhas’s Darling? While Pournami is intense and dramatic, this is a goofy fun rom-com if you’re looking for something silly to cheer you up.

            Like

          • I haven’t watched Darling! And that’s one that I have both been warned to avoid and told to seek out.

            But I think the warning to avoid is more of the “it’s a ridiculous implausible film with no depth” kind of level. And I have no problem with a ridiculous implausible film with no depth!

            Like

    • Oh shoot, I’m gonna get in trouble for that! One sec, I’ll edit it to be “Allu Arjun” everywhere.

      On Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 12:59 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

      • Lol, good thinking. You know you could always refer to him as Bunny, his nickname, if that makes things easier for you. Or maybe I just complicated things further by adding another name into the mix 🙂

        Like

        • I never would have guessed “Bunny” as his nickname, and yet it is perfect! Just the right kind of non-traditional masculine without completely rejecting it.

          On Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 10:35 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

          Like

          • Oh my goodness Allu Arjun! I love your willingness to break the bounds of traditional masculinity/heroism!!!! I can’t imagine Hrithik, for instance, doing a movie called “Duggu”. He would want to be seen as much more dignified than that.

            On Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 11:40 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Like

          • Lol, the movie itself is pretty massy and male-centric movie though. I think it was either his third or fourth movie.

            Like

  1. I am quite fond of this movie. I don’t know how to explain the reason. I’ll try. Somewhere in the hero worship culture of Telugu cinema, hero’s badassery became synonymous with how poorly he treats everyone around him. An example is the director Trivikram Srinivas’s own Attarintiki Daaredi where the hero is constantly abusing his employees verbally and physically, doesn’t seem to really care about his relatives or his love interests until the climax where he has to act all noble and troubled. Here, in spite of all the silliness AA manages to bring out the humanity in his character, the sense of loss, betrayal, hurt along with optimism and genuine concern for his friends and family. The entire supporting cast including the three heroines are treated with dignity by both the film and the hero and that in turn makes me respect and like the film bit more. Does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it does. If it were a different hero, this would be a story of how his family and love interests are a burden that cause challenges he has to overcome, he would be the only thing that really matters. But in this movie, it feels like the hero sincerely likes and cares about the people around him, and that invites the audience to like and care about them too, instead of just seeing them as plot points.

      Like

      • I am not surprised with your views and the “silliness” part. That’s a characteristic of Trivikram’s movies – SoS, Julayi, Attarintiki, Athadu (Mahesh), Khaleja, AaAaa (Nitin), etc. I do not like some of the behavioral characteristics of his hero characters. And, the way the hero treats the lady characters.
        Mahesh-Trisha in Athadu; Mahesh-Anushka in Khaleja; Bunny-Ileana in Julayi; Bunny-Samanta in SoS; PK-Samantha in Attarinitiki…; Nitin-Samantha in AaAaa; in fact, Tarun-Shriya in Nuvve Nuvve (his directorial debut)
        – All have the same pattern.
        He just gets away with his excellent dialogues – no wonder he’s called “Matala mantrikudu”( a wizard of words). I like him as a writer, but not as a director.

        Like

  2. I really like S/o Satyamurthy! I actually watched it again a few months ago and it really holds up! Have you seen Julayi? That was the first movie that Trivikram and Allu Arjun did together and it’s one of my favorites.

    Like

    • Oh good, it’s not just me! I am liking it more and more as I think about it after watching. I may need to rewatch it, I suspect it is one of those films I will appreciate even more on a second watch. The first time around I kept waiting for it to turn “serious”, and of course it never really did. The second time around, I will be ready for that.

      On Wed, Aug 1, 2018 at 10:45 AM, dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Like

  3. One of the best works of Trivikram after Athadu, and Prakash Raj is Conspicuous by absence through out the movie.
    Rajendra Prasad and Vennala Kishore strengthened the movie. and movie reminds it is the Value system which need to be passed from one generation to other generation, apart from Wealth and riches.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s