Ardha Shathabdham Review: Lofty idea, weak narration

Sircilla has been a municipality since the 1980s but it becomes a village for the story setting of new director Rawindra Pulle’s ‘Ardha Shathabdham’. Set in 2003, ‘Ardha Shathabdham’ (half-century) addresses the issue of class and caste discrimination even after 50 years of Independence and the existence of the constitution of India. That the marginalized classes were still not getting equal treatment in society is the point the film tries to convey. And this message is hyperlinked to a love story.

Thus the story begins in Sircilla village in 2003, with the local boy Krishna (Karthika Rathnam) is trying to propose to Pushpa (Krishna Priya). While she doesn’t love him, he imagines her as his girlfriend, and he even indulges in dream songs of marrying her. After many months, realization strikes him that he has a nurtured dream that is one-sided and he read the signals wrongly. 

His wrongdoing leads to a chain of actions in the village leading to the crescendo of caste violence. Police officer Ranjith (Naveen Chandra) steps into the village to bring peace. On the other hand, Pushpa’s father Ramanna (Sai Kumar), a former moist leader who shuns caste, faces a conflict as well. The love story and the village politics take a violent turn.

Director Rawindra Pulle sure does have lofty ideas but his intention is appreciable but his narrative is half-baked, lacks engagement. 

The one-sided love story occupies nearly 50 minutes of the 2-hour runtime, and the romantic tracks are not at all compelling at any point. 

The interval bang is even more passive. 

The caste conflict and the violence look superficial, and out of place for the Telangana region. Plus, an entire village is taking swords and fighting with each other in the style of faction feuds in Telangana is unimaginable, even though the honor killings have lately been recorded.

‘Bathukamma’ festivals, Praja Natya Mandali meetings, the Maoist angle, etc are captured well to depict the rural Telangana’s culture and lifestyle. However, when it comes to telling the story convincingly and engagingly, it falters big time. 

Primarily, the romance between the young couple is not mutual. It is a one-sided love. So, by adding a caste angle to this love story, every sequence in the film looks artificial, nothing is organic. 

C/O Kancharapalem-fame Karthik Rathnam has played the main lead role. He fits well in the role of a lover boy from a lower-middle-class. Malayali girl Krishna Priya also suits well to her role. But there is nothing to rave about any of the performances here. Naveen Chandra’s character is clumsily written and the actor plays it nonchalantly. This character is a perfect example that how half-baked ideas are thrown into the film. 

Music and cinematography are good. 

Bottom-line: ‘Ardha Sathabdham’ has lofty intentions, but it falters in the narrative. Weak direction and vague ideas have marred the film. The ideas are lost in translation. 

OTT Movie: Ardha Shathabdham
Cast: Karthik Rathnam, Krishna Priya, Naveen Chandra, Sai Kumar, Aamani
Cinematography: Ashkar, Venkat R Shakamuri, EJ Venu
Music: Nawfal Raja
Editor: J Pratap Kumar
Producers: Chitti Kiran Ramoju, Telu Radha Krishna
Written and Directed by: Rawindra Pulle
Streaming on: Aha Video
Release Date: June 11, 2021

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