Virata Parvam Movie Review: Sai Pallavi, Rana Daggubati's captivating acts and climax make it a decent film
Sai Pallavi's glorious performance is the only thing that keeps the love story from seeming farcical and flimsy.
Cast: Sai Pallavi, Rana Daggubati and others
Director: Venu Udugula
Run-Time: 151 minutes
Right off the bat, the audience member watching 'Virata Parvam' is inundated with received wisdom and platitudes. "Only two days are meaningful in life: The day we were born and the day we discover why we were born," Vennela (Sai Pallavi) is told by her father. The quote used to be a terrific viral E-mail in the early days of the Internet. Then there is the revolutionary poetry from the Maoist leader Ravanna (Rana Daggubati), whose lines brim with explosive sincerity but which have lost their vigour because of the endless use of the borrowed lingo in both folk traditions and pop culture.
Director Venu Udugula actually reserves the weighty portions for the final act. There is something melancholic about the touching climax. But even this stretch could have been many times more heartrending had Ravanna's character not been an underwritten one. He has to verbalize something by screaming at the top of his lungs. We get that he is a Maoist. But why make Maoism all about blazing poetry, Laal Salaam-ing, and loud declamations/denouncements?
The story is Vennela's. As such, 'Virata Parvam' is the most heroine-centric story revolving around Naxal warfare and the state's pushback. Vennela falls in love with Ravanna after reading his banned literature in secrecy. She starts imagining a life with him - a life in the war-torn forest.
For Vennela, Ravanna is a mythic figure who deserves the kind of worshipping Mirabai afforded Lord Krishna. She is a compulsive romantic who takes to romanticized Naxalism in a predictable turn of events. 'Virata Parvam' would have been an excusable film had the confrontation scenes between the Maoists and the police been the ONLY unimaginative segments. Thankessly, even the staging of Vennela's surreal love for Ravanna is shorn of poetic imagination. Sai Pallavi's glorious performance is the only thing that keeps the love story from seeming farcical and flimsy.
There is an air of frenzy about Vennela's unreal love affair with a man who doesn't know about her existence. This man is supposed to have an imposing presence even when he is not seen on the screen. The theatricalness of this idea deserved a smattering of exceptional writing. Vennela's evolution from an ordinary girl into a rare lover girl should have seemed believable. But it ends up seeming quite plain and basic. Even Vennela's will and ability to fight in deathly situations are not convincing.
The clashes between the radicals and the cardboard cops are bereft of visual highs. Themes like custodial violence, police torture, and constant surveillance of suspects/villagers are repeated ad nausem. In an unintentionally funny scene, a top cop (played by Banerjee) introduces Mahabharata's Virata Parvam to his boss in the middle of a meeting meant to brainstorm an anti-Maoist strategy. Guess why he does that? To tell him about the need to enlist a spy. The boss surely never attended the police training academy.
The film has this tendency to seem pretentious about vocabulary about or around Maoists. Terms like 'state phobia' are used with the glee of a student who is reading about radicals for the first time. But these are minor flaws compared to how Ravanna, on one occasion, is made to look like he needs life lessons from Vennela. Doesn't Vennela love him because he is perfect?
Nandita Das' character adds something to the plot but Zarina Wahab's mother character will be remembered more for the hyper-emotional scene she has with her son. Naveen Chandra and Priyamani are okayish but it is Sai Chand who steals the show among the supporting artists. The film has some terrific cinematography. The BGM is good enough.