Premam: A Review
Premam is a 2016 Telugu film which starts Akkineni Naga Chaitanya as its lead along with 3 women who come into his life as love interests at various stages. The movie is a remake of a 2015 Malayalam film of the same name. The movie tries to meditate on the fact that every time we fall in love our feelings never disappear even if the love was not meant to be. If the movie succeeds in doing this or not is a question which does not require much thought.
The centrepiece of the movie is Naga Chaitanya and every other character that comes in and goes out of the movie is pretty much a means to get him and also the audience to the end which is, feelings don’t end when your relationships do. To start with our lead actor, he does just an okay job with his role. There are moments of genuinely great acting and character specifically written for him but those moments too are shrouded with clichéd scenes.
His turn as a high school student who has no idea how to get love across to a woman is fun to watch. It is also shot in a mildly interesting visual and editing style. The film for some reason gives up on this fresh style of shooting once this episode of his life is done and never tries anything new from a visual perspective after that. This one segment of his life is sandwiched between two cameos of which one genuinely took me by surprise and was a joy to watch and the other just felt like a shout out to all the YouTube Telugu contingent.
His next big romance comes around soon after with a super underutilised Shruti Hassan which in turn leads to an under utilised lead actor. This pretty much sets the tone for the fact that the emotional gut-punch the movie is trying to get to will just fall short. There is a sense of no real connection between the couple and it still has shades of a school boyish romance. The final relationship our lead gets into is because of one of the flimsiest of reason a la Vaaranam Aayiram’s final romance.
The movie is an amalgamation of three romantic comedies. It tries to find a through line of connection between all of them to show growth and character development but falls well short. This is not to say the movie has no positives to take from it, far from that. The movie has a really good sense of humour about it with how it plays with a few genre clichés and is loaded with some cleverly timed visual humour coupled with dialogue. It has some gorgeous cinematography at a few instances and a partially good background score. The score for the fight sequence and the main whistle theme deserve some praise.
The movie moves at a very breezy pace, not too rushed or not too slow. It does commit the one the cardinal sins of South Indian Cinema, in my opinion, which is throwing in a reference to your family in a film you make. It is a sin almost every Telugu mainstream lead actor does and it is just a cheap way to gain audience approval. It also shows how closed off your industry is when you see three generations of lead actors monopolising the industry and claiming ownership from everything ranging from box office records to punch lines. The other problem which leads to the film’s eventual dip in quality is its lack of good writing for its female characters. It just does not help the audience care about your story when the main character’s main characteristic is beautiful woman #376.
All in all, it is a fun time at the theatre. It doesn’t leave you with a huge wallop of emotion but it does leave you with a smile on your face by the end of it.
Premam: A Review