This is a guest review by NaChaKi.
“Vellipomaake” is the product of a Ramanaidu Film School graduate and it is only once in a few years do we get to see if Film Schools can really and practically be career building options. Well, this one film is out here… while many others struggle to make films, and that is already a tangible proof of “success” – to bring a small movie to the theatres! Let’s hope that it also becomes a commercial success and brings money back to the makers.
The film is about a youngster’s story of love and life – from the “I wish I had a girlfriend like my roomies” to the end, the film is a personal journey. Chandu (played by Vishwak Sen) is a boy-next-door kind of youth with no bad, er, “cool” habits of “today’s youth” …whatever that means. A small-time animator who lives with two of his colleagues Jeevan and Kishore, Chandu wishes to have a girl who can, figuratively and literally, occupy the chair opposite to him in a restaurant. Enters a new colleague Shruthi Koneru (played by Supraja), and music plays in Chandu’s heart. The seemingly meek, not-so-street-smart quickly faces embarrassing situations and feels lonelier than ever… until he receives a Facebook friend request from Swetha Nandoori (played by Nithyasri Reddy), a total stranger in his life. Friends warn him that it could be a fake account or a fraudster but much to his own surprise, he meets her and it becomes a routine and soon they are too close to be parting. The title kind of gives away what happens next… but why is the question. And what did Chandu do about it when Swetha vanishes mysteriously? How “real” is Swetha?
The movie takes its own sweet pace to move through the story. Ah… the story! Vellipomaake is not a very different story that thrills you, but it’s true, natural, and feels our very own, thanks to its treatment. The slow pace is actually justified in making the story sink in and take us along with it. A lot of redrafting must have gone into writing the story and in making every, every minute character believable and natural. The attention to detail in setting up the story and characters is unmissable but does not ever seem forced! (For example, the hand-drawn-and-coloured sign “No Paper, Only Water …Loo!” on the door of the protagonist’s washroom is such an intuitive indication of the lighter-vein lives of three bachelors in the not-so-conventional career as animators.)
Clearly, the film-school-graduate director did put a lot of theory into practice, as can be seen on the screen. The depth of field itself seemed to have a story to tell by itself in the film, thanks to the cinematography by Vidyasagar and Akhilesh (which, unfortunately, had some frames that were out of focus and could have been chopped off at the editing table without any qualms). (Editor’s Note: This Reviewer had watched a special screening of the film; the theatrical version may slightly vary.) The major strength of the film’s technical prowess is in its music. Prashanth R Vihari uses his ensemble, particularly the strings, efficiently to create the mood and make the audience travel with the protagonist through his story, while owning it up slowly. The songs are good enough for the film’s pace and theme but it’s the BGM that brings out the best of the music director’s skill. I personally feel that film directors must not edit their own films – because it’s tough to cut out frames that were shot by oneself so fondly and meticulously. Vellipomaake could have thus used a better editor but given that it’s a micro-budget, non-commercial format film (in the director’s own words in an interview to “The Hindu”), the film had to be complacent with in-house talents. (Interestingly, only the lead pairs’ names appear in the titles for “Makeup” while the director’s name also appears for Costumes. You get the idea!)
On the performances side, Vishwak Sen (alias Dinesh Naidu) is very, very believable and true to the character as the introvertish, wannabe-lover and then the loving and eventually lovelorn Chandu who fails to balance love, career, and life very well like any youth of his age. Prashant, who appears as Kishore, is very natural too as a supportive friend who understands Chandu and his heart inside out. Nithyasri Reddy was good as a true lover …and her inconsistent makeup may not be unintentional at all! John Kottoly, who appears in a crucial role as the heroine’s cousin, is equally good. Supraja has a befitting screen presence too in the role of an entry-level employee. The other artistes too assayed their roles like they are all real people in real lives, not more and not less.
The pace of the story, the camera angles, the meekness of the protagonist, and the climax are not conventional at all, and thus this film may be appealing differently to different audiences. With a producer like ‘Dil’ Raju backing this project, let’s hope that the director turned dentist (Yakub) Ali Mohammed will have an impactful and promising start. Vishwak Sen is here to stay too!
PS: All the images are screenshots from the film’s official trailer on YouTube.