What’s it about?
Set in the late 1990s in Machilipatnam, Jayakrishna (Suhas) and Deepthi Varma (Chandini Chowdary) study in the same engineering college. She is the beauty of the college – fair, tall, and belongs to an upper-middle-class. She also is good at studies. He is poor and has a dark complexion.
The very first time, Jayakrishna sees Deepthi in a Goddess attire, in a college’s play, he develops an admiration towards her. It is his bhakti to her. But it is Deepthi who proposes to him first. They meet at the beach, top of the college, in other ‘secret’ places.
But, how long can they keep their romance under wraps? Her brother Ramaraju (Sunil), a police officer, who has a detest for low-income groups and a fascination for ‘looks’, soon comes to know about them. As you would have guessed right, he doesn’t like the dark-skinned Jayakrishna. What happens next is the core part of the film.
‘Color Photo’ marks the debut of comedian Suhas, better known for roles in ‘Majili’ and ‘Uma Maheswara Ugra Roopasya’, as the lead hero. The story is said to be based on the incidents that took place in the life of director Sai Rajesh (director of ‘Hrudaya Kaleyam’).
Directed by Sandip Raj, who made short films earlier, ‘Color Photo’ deals with the topic of colourism (discrimination based on skin color and olourism is slightly different from racism).
‘Color Photo’ begins on a dull note with regular scenes that we have seen in umpteen ‘nostalgic college romantic dramas’. The story happens in a Machilipatnam engineering college during the period of 1997 to 2001. The college sequences, predominantly filled with regular jokes and moments, occupy the first hour. Lately, we have seen many films that have gone nostalgic trips in the 1980’s and 90’s period. Somehow, I felt this is overkill.
Only after an hour’s time, it begins to draw us into the story. The real conflict in the film comes much later point. Writer Sai Rajesh and director Sandip Raj have not shown any flashes of brilliance in the first act.
Their talent shines through in the third act. The penultimate sequences, including the twist, is touching. The ‘soul’ of the film lies in the final act.
But the drive of the story could have been better, and less short, for more impact.
Also, the conflict point is not much convincing. Unless we take the ‘colorism’ as euphemism for casteism, this conflict doesn’t make impact. Sunil’s detest for Suhas is not mere ‘dark complexion’, he despises more for his poor class (caste and money).
Plus, the epilogue has also spoiled the touching climax a bit. At the beginning of the film, Chandini is shown as a girl who doesn’t express any emotions, a condition caused due to trauma, but in the few scenes later, she is shown exhibiting all kinds of emotions. Such inconsistencies in characterization is another major flaw.
However, the film has good dialogue writing, which has worked well in creating a mood in the end. Novelist Yandamuri Veerendranath’s influence can be seen in the dialogues.
Sample some dialogues: “Mogudu mundu Manasu dachagalam kaani vollu daachalemu”
“Cheyyi Madiste Kanda Padali, Navvite Bugga Meeda Sotta Padali… Ivanni Andam Anukovadam Maneste Mana Batukulu Marutayi…Kapuralu Cheyyalsindi Kandalu Rangulu Kadu Manusulu”
““Prapanchamlo Annitikanna Pure Relation Ento Telusa andi..Bhakti..”
Coming to the performances, Suhas has played the role with conviction. He is so natural. We don’t seem him as a hero but a character, who is driving the story. Chandini Chowdary’s performance shines in the second half. Sunil in a negative role for the first time is the biggest surprise package of the movie. Harsha Chemudu gets another winning performance.
Music by Kaal Bhairava is another noteworthy aspect. His background has elevated the final moments.
Bottom-line: ‘Color Photo’ deals with colourism, and boasts good dialogue writing. Despite tad slow-paced and dull initial portions, the latter half of the film has touching moments.
Epilogue: The film has this line – “Preminchina Vaarini Andanantha Etulo Nilabettadame Nijamaina Prema” that appears twice. But neither the hero nor heroine have done that.
Film: Color Photo Cast: Suhas, Chandini Chowdary, Sunil, Divya Sripada, Harsha Chemudu and others Story and producer: Sai Rajesh Music: KaalaBhairava Cinematography: Venkat R Shakamuri Editor: Kodati Pavan Kalyan Written and directed by: Sandeep Raj Release Date: October 23, 2020 OTT Platform: Aha