What’s it about?
Hailing from the forest region of Nallamala, Ravindra Yadav (Panja Vaisshnav Tej) lacks the confidence to communicate well at the IT job interviews in Hyderabad. Four years of multiple attempts and successive failures make him go back to his roots. His grandfather (Kota Srinivasa Rao) suggests he take a journey of Konda Polam along with his father to overcome his fears and gain confidence.
When famine strikes, they take the cattle into the hill forest for 4o-days. This journey is called ‘Konda Polam’.
Ravindra Yadav decides to accompany his father, Obulamma, and other shepherds for the ‘Konda Polam’ journey. In their long yatra, Ravindra develops a liking for Obulamma (Rakul), also learns life lessons. How did it shape him and give him the confidence to clear the UPSC exam and become an IFS (Indian Forest Service) officer? That is the rest of the drama.
Director Krish’s profound adaptation of writer Sannapureddi Venkata Rami Reddy’s novel ‘Kondapolam’ to screen is a coming-of-age story of a shepherd ‘becoming’ an achiever in life. It is like a book of personality development or self-help guide that inspires others to achieve something in life from the story of Ravindra Yadav.
The word Konda Polam means forest grazing by livestock. The concept and the word are alien outside the Nallamala region (forest area that spans Kurnool, Kadapa, and Mahbubnagar districts). Such a story has never been explored on the screen, either. So, ‘Konda Polam’, the film, has a unique and different concept, to begin with. It is a mix of genres of adventure thriller, inspiring drama, and coming-of-age story.
Krish keeps the film as close to the novel as possible. The romantic thread between Rakul and Vaisshnav Tej is his addition. Krish has created Rakul’s character for commercial aspects.
The story of a shepherd becoming a forest officer, a rural engineering student overcoming his low self-esteem and deficiency in English language skills are told with the main themes of the conservation of forests, drought conditions of Rayalaseema. But Krish has packaged it more of a coming-of-age tale, the protagonist learning lessons in the forest. The Nallamala forest births him again.
As said, the concept is unique, and Krish narrates the second half of the convincingly. The main highlight of the film, as mentioned, is the story. The other highlight is the tiger and hero’s track in the second half. Initially, the hero is presented as a person who has no confidence in his skills. He needs catharsis. He becomes a man to face anything after he overcomes the troubles in the forest. To tell this story, Krish has taken a lot of time. Once he finds his groove in the second half, the film becomes interesting.
But the drought conditions should have been filmed in a better way. The omnipresent greenery in the frames us forget that the hero is making this journey due to drought. That was the major flaw. It is understandable that forests, in general, look lush green, but the contrast between drought situations and forest sequences should have been made clearly.
The character of Raviprakash and his problem doesn’t make us involve. His monologue at a telephone booth is unconvincing. Besides slow-paced narration, these are the issues in an otherwise different story.
As far as performances are concerned, Vaisshnav Tej, who made his debut in ‘Uppena’ which hit the screens early this year, delivers a convincing performance as Ravi Yadav. His dialogue delivery with Rayalaseema slang is appreciable. Rakul Preet Singh in her first out and out de-glam rustic character is quite impressive. This is her best performance.
Spectacular cinematography by VS Gnanasekhar enhances the film’s viewing experience. Veteran music director MM Keeravani’s music works. Dialogue by Sannapureddi Venkata Rami Reddy is appreciable.
As a director, Krish has done a fairly good job, but he seems to have been constrained by COVID-19 conditions (the film was shot during the partial lockdown in Vikarabad, far away from Nallamala).
Bottom line: Based on a novel of the same name, ‘Kondapolam’ definitely has a novel concept, a story that has not been told. It is like a class of a personality-development. It needed a more convincing narrative. But this is for only niche audiences who cannot mind very slow narration.
By: Jalapathy Gudelli
Banner: First Frame Entertainments
Cast: Panja Vaisshnav Tej, Rakul Preet Singh, Sai Chand, Kota, and others
Story: Sannapureddi Venkata Rami Reddy
Music: MM Keeravani
Cinematography: Gnana Shekar VS
Editor: Shravan Katikaneni
Art: Raj Kumar Gibson
Producers: Saibabu Jagarlamudi and Rajeev Reddy
Screenplay, directed by: Krish Jagarlamudi
Release Date: October 8, 2021