I have to give a disclaimer right up that I am a huge fan of the works of Sekhar Kammula and Sai Pallavi. Films like Anand, Godavari and even Leader to an extent are some of my favourite Telugu films, especially Anand being an all time personal classic for me. And Sai Pallavi’s Premam performance does not need an introduction either. So it is fair to say that I was excited and also tensed for Sekhar Kammula (because of his string of unsuccessful films) as I walked into the theater.

And how I was swept off by the film! This is the kind of Telugu film that one has been waiting for, for a while now: a well made love story at its soul with characters and dialogues that you would remember for a long time!

Fidaa promotes itself as a “Love-Hate-Love” story in all its posters and trailer. This makes you sense the direction where the movie is heading right up. That’s not a complaint exactly as most love stories in films usually have that tinge of ‘hate stories’ where the boy and girl move away from each other due to one silly reason followed by another which induce yawns from us. But Fidaa has a conflict at its core that you could sense from the beginning that ably justifies the ‘hate story’ segment. Bhanumathi’s character (played by Sai Pallavi) is hands down one of the strongest female characters we have come across in our industry.

I am not sure if Sekhar Kammula wrote this movie with Sai Pallavi in his mind or if the role was just ‘given’ to her but Sai Pallavi makes it her own. She lives and breathes as Bhanumathi and it is so easy to see why Varun (played by Varun Tej), or anyone, could easily fall in love with her. Her nuances and expressions are a treat to watch. She aces the role so well that I could watch the film once again only for her. It is delighting to see a female lead outclass and outshine her male counterpart by such an extent in a “big Telugu film” (read big producer, director and hero). You can notice this stark outplay by Sai Pallavi in the usage of the word “Fidaa” in the movie. That word was used couple of times in the movie by both Bhanumathi and Varun and you could see how well Sai Pallavi says that word: “Fidaa” in comparison and you would get my point. But that doesn’t mean Varun Tej was bad by any stretch. He was really good, especially in ‘sad’ moments and has a good body language in general. He has the potential to be a very fine actor as he ages by more films.

Fidaa is also well complimented by its music. The songs are catchy, enjoyable and never feel out of place in the movie (when considered with so many other films). The cinematography in those songs, especially in “Hey Pillagaada” is applaud-worthy. The cinematographer and the director capture a small Telangana village in all its colourful beauty and it’s heartening to watch them on screen. The segments in US are well shot too but surprisingly they pale in comparison to the segments back home (once again it’s only relative) and that speaks volumes of the work done by the crew to capture the village so beautifully. Fidaa rolls on with these picturesque locations throughout the film.

Fidaa’s biggest selling point other than Sai Pallavi’s performance, has to be its dialogues. They are in Telangana dialect for the majority which feels refreshing but more than the dialect it’s the dialogues themselves that are relatable. They flow like conversations that we have back home ourselves. And that’s something that has always been a stronghold for Shekar Kammula. This movie is not without its flaws here and there (nothing is perfect) but they can be overlooked. Don’t go by the word that the movie “slows down” in the second half, because I was told that before I watched the film and I didn’t feel it, though the ending feels a touch hurried but that’s okay too. Overall it’s a well crafted film.

With amazing characters, good story, strong dialogues, well written screenplay complimented by soulful music and vibrant, colourful cinematography, Shekar Kammula has delivered an all round winner.

Shekar Kammula delivers what he promises with his captions. Be it Anand with its “Manchi coffee lanti cinema” or Fidaa with “Love-Hate-Love story”. But may be, Shekar Kammula overshoots with Fidaa by delivering more than a “Love-Hate-Love story” by also delivering a “Manchi Coffee lanti cinema”. 

I’m going with 4 out of 5 for this film. When Shekar Kammula is in his elements, he delivers a really great coffee!

PS: All the images are YouTube screen-grabs from the film’s official trailer.

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