Mangalavaaram Movie Review : A Rural Thriller with Twists and Turns
In the heart of Director Ajay Bhupathi’s Telugu period thriller, ‘Mangalavaaram,‘ lies a tale of mystery, faith, and morality set in the rustic backdrop of Mahalakshmipuram, a village in Andhra Pradesh. The film, also dubbed in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and Hindi, promises a captivating narrative with a mix of twists and turns, although it may not fully deliver on the soulful drama it aspires to be.
The journey begins with the film’s first hour dedicated to establishing the world of Mahalakshmipuram in the mid-1980s. Mysterious deaths cast a shadow over the village, occurring exclusively on Tuesdays. The screenplay weaves through the backdrop with the intention of building morally ambiguous characters, particularly focusing on Shailaja, portrayed by Payal Rajput.
Mangalavaaram Movie Review: The music, crafted by Ajaneesh Loknath, and cinematography by Dasaradhi Shivendra play pivotal roles in elevating the film’s atmosphere. Ajaneesh’s fusion of folk and contemporary tunes, coupled with a fiery visual palette, sets the stage for the unfolding mystery. The village comes alive during the Mahalakshmi temple’s jatara, introducing folk-inspired characters that add layers of curiosity to the narrative.
As the plot thickens, tempers flare easily in the village, turning a celebratory feast into chaos. The film introduces a range of seemingly odd characters, each potentially a suspect in the unexplained deaths. Among them are Maya, a newly appointed tough cop played by Nandita Shwetha, and Prakasam, the village zamindar portrayed by Chaitanya Krishna. The characters are presented with a touch of intrigue, making everyone a suspect until proven innocent.
Mangalavaaram Movie Review: The narrative, however, doesn’t shy away from injecting banal and crass humor, especially through Ajay Ghosh’s character. The film explores societal dynamics, occasionally reflecting a disconcerting male gaze, where characters leer at women and rate them, adding an ironic twist to the village’s atmosphere.
As the film progresses, it delves into Shailaja’s story, offering clues to her enigmatic behavior. Payal Rajput’s portrayal of a morally ambiguous character is commendable, although the male gaze occasionally permeates through the film. The flashback, while providing insights into Shailaja’s past, may overstay its welcome, and the romance and heartbreak fail to create a significant impact.
Mangalavaaram Movie Review: The last 45 minutes of ‘Mangalavaaram’ are dedicated to twists and turns, introducing mystery elements like characters running with pots of fire through fields at night and others appearing with masks. While there is an emotional payoff and some surprises, the film falls short of being as smart as it aims to be. The cop, Maya, is more talk than substance, lacking a proper plan of action.
Mangalavaaram Movie Review: The film, despite its shortcomings, guarantees a theatrical experience with its production design, cinematography, and sound design. The performances by Chaitanya Krishna, Ravindra Vijay, and Nandita Shwetha are commendable, but the narrative doesn’t fully transform into the absorbing saga of a troubled character it sets out to be.
In conclusion, ‘Mangalavaaram’ takes audiences on a moody journey filled with suspense, emotion, and visual brilliance. While it may not reach the heights of a soulful drama, the film succeeds in engaging viewers with its rural charm and a storyline that keeps them guessing until the end. It’s a rollercoaster of twists and turns, offering moments of thrill and surprise, making it a worthwhile cinematic experience despite its narrative nuances.