Cinema Bandi Movie Review: A sincere, charming film with a soul

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Cinema Bandi: A sincere, charming film with a soul

Movie Title: Cinema Bandi 
Cinema Bandi Cast: Vikas Vasishta, Sandeep Varanasi, Rag Mayur and others
Cinema Bandi Director: Praveen Kandregula 
Cinema Bandi Rating: 3/5


Telugu cinema is slowly waking up to the potential of off-beat or indie films. 'Care Of Kancharapalem' (2018) is the most-crowned of all in recent times. Last year, 'Middle Class Melodies' came out but it was more a mainstream Mollywood-type comedy-drama. 'Cinema Bandi', made as a proper indie film, comes from the stable of the Raj Nidimoru-Krishna DK duo. Released today on Netflix, the film is hardly one hour and forty minutes long. 

In Gollapally, a village bordering Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Veera (Vikas Vasistha), an auto driver, strives to make a film once he chances upon an expensive camera belonging to an urbane freelancer. His photographer-friend Gana (Sandeep Varanasi) tells him that it's the sort of camera that shoots the likes of Prabhas. Co-incidentally, the same night, Veera learns about small films striking gold in recent times. This triggers a question in him: Why can't I make the next big small film? 

He and Gana go on a hunt to search for their lead actors, equipped with a typical girl-meets-boy love story written long ago by an old man who has run out of creativity and is speechless because he seems to have given up. Maridesh  Babu (Rag Mayur), a barber, becomes the unlikely hero of the film. As they embark on the project, the small unit encounters a number of practical challenges, including that of continuity issues. 

Like in a typical indie film, the emotions are tender here. There are no serious moments that overstay their welcome. Even those individuals thought to be hostile turn out to be otherwise eventually. 

We see the village uniting in the face of adversity because Veera thinks about everyone, not just his family. His wife doesn't quite encourage his dreams, but she doesn't let her scepticism destroy her husband's unconventional pursuit. 

Maridesh Babu’s girlfriend Manga (Uma YG) is cliched, but she may well be the kind of person the meek team of the film within the film needs. The barber looks poised to chart the uncharted territory with a lot of gusto. 

Satyavolu Sirish's songs are blended with the ingenuous mood of the film. Director Praveen Kandregula doesn't avoid a sublime song or two, but he surely steers clear of heavy-duty lines. 

There should have been a scene indicating that Veera is a risk-taker and has an irresistible creative urge in him. The amateurs are armed with enthusiasm but not self-doubt. This looks somewhat unrealistic. The film is more or less straightforward and revels in its unstructured style. What is surprising is that their film within the film doesn't come with any unique sparks of imagination. 

Vasanth Maringati, who lent the story, doesn't let it become a non-stop farce. The film retains a healthy craziness. At the same time, it fails to go beyond the elementariness after a point. Veera is there in every scene, but he rarely utters a poignant or profound line despite the challenges he is confronted with. 

When you are making a rooted film set in a village, it's not like you have to necessarily paint characters as incurably wide-eyed. Everything said and done, 'Cinema Bandi' is still watchable the way it is.