10 years for Prasthanam

“For once come out of the epics and stories and see by yourself, All the characters Act according to their needs… there are no heroes and villains in the play” The beauty of this dialogue might be lost in translation, but the epic meaning remains the same. I strongly believe these are the most powerful lines I’ve heard in the Telugu cinema. And these are the most powerful lines I have heard ever since “Whichever country’s history you see what reason is there to be proud? The entire history of the human race is the exploitation of others” Written by Sri Sri(Telugu Poet) in his most celebrated work MahaPrasthanam. Maybe Director Deva Katta’s philosophical core comes from this work or a lot of other brilliant literary and philosophical works that come together in this film. With powerful dialogues like these, this film defies “Show, Don’t tell”. This line is followed by the crack of a bullet. I don’t know why I feel the impact of two bullets with the first one being the dialogue. 

The film’s protagonist a hamlet like Mitra(sharwanand) walks into his childhood home, and he experiences the nostalgia of this home and the people lived there within moments taking you to a brief flashback. Mitra belongs to an aristocratic village family, his grandfather Dasarath is elected as the president unanimously every time, but this time there are internal conflicts in the village which leads to the death of his son Keshava. Loki(Sai Kumar) a friend of Keshava because of the circumstances marries Mitra’s mother Savitri and takes his father’s place. Mitra’s sister Valli protests to this and still doesn’t accept Loki as her father. Mitra, on the other hand, accepts him and loves him more than his own father. Loki in the future has another son Chinna(Sundeep Kishan) with and this furthers the conflict in the family even more. These are the 5 principal characters this story revolves around. On the surface level, this is just a dysfunctional family drama, but there is an external conflict to it. Loki now has risen from the village level leader to on MLA and is having high hopes on becoming a minister, other party members hate him and are forming a coup against him. Who will be Loki’s Heir among Mitra and Chinna, forms the core conflict of the story. Mitra is popular among the masses and is respected and revered among the followers, but Chinna is just a spoilt brat. This coming together of external and internal conflicts puts Loki’s family in jeopardy.

Chinna , Mitra and Loki

If I reveal anything more than this, it will spoil the viewing experience for you, I am not going to support my claims over here as I want to guys to experience these things while watching this film. All these characters are well rounded and they have an arc, which helps with the story. And then there are background characters and others who are used to deliver the political satire the director plans to deliver using a different humor track. This is about many things leading from nepotism, favoritism to party coup politics and finally some sort of critique and opinion on Hereditary ruling in politics. Pulling off everything including songs and a particular romantic track and yet being true to the philosophical core of the idea in 3 hours is a great achievement. But maybe this is what proved to be lethal for this film, instead of having a single focus it shifts from things in the scene to scene, but then the story would have been a philosophical lecture. Having this level of philosophical dosage in a commercial film is great and maybe people weren’t able to receive it or understand it for various reasons. But this doesn’t stop us from celebrating this film. It has a very niche following and it has achieved cult status. I believe this kind of film ages better.

With this tightening noose of conflicts and with the game of dialogues, this film keeps you engaging and guessing till the end. But this bullet crack like philosophical end and the final twist in the tale doesn’t let this film go away from your brain easily. Maybe it’s time to re-watch this film for the brilliant performances given by the leading men. For the bullet-like dialogues shot at us by the director, and to appreciate the philosophical depth of this political thriller.

PS: I am writing this after reading the script of the film which is available online and watching the film twice.

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