What’s it about
Set in a village near Amalapuram in Andhra Pradesh, the film begins mid-way through the story of Soori Babu (Sudheer Babu), a lighting technician, and Sridevi (Anandhi), daughter of local Soda shop’s owner. The story begins as Soori Babu is in jail on the charges of attempted murder. He stabs a person when he humiliates his father.
Meanwhile, Sridevi and Soori Babu plan to run away get married when Sridevi’s father (Naresh) doesn’t accept their love as Soori is from a lower caste. The village’s rich guy Kasi (Pavel Navageethan) sets his eyes on Sridevi and helps her father in his attempts to separate the lovers.
Running on the oft-repeated theme of caste conflict, ‘Sridevi Soda Center’ begins with the protagonist coming out of jail, who is serving the prison, and begins to unravel the proceedings that took place before. A predictable start!
Not just the beginning, even the romantic sequences on the lead pair Sudheer Babu and Ananadhi also run expectedly, not offering an iota of freshness.
‘Sridevi Soda Center’ is the second feature film effort from director Karuna Kumar, who won appreciation for his debut, ‘Palasa 1978’. In his first movie, the director the Dalit identity and theme convincingly. Caste issues also play a pivotal part in his second effort. He also delves into the theme of honor killings further. But the film’s core point comes to the fore just before the climax. Until then, it moves with regular beats.
Two aspects have worked against this story to get us involved: a weak romance between the lead pair (Sudheer Babu appears too matured to play such a role), and Mani Sharma’s uninteresting music tracks.
The screenplay writing doesn’t skip formulaic points.
What I liked is the handling of the climax sequence. Though it is similar on the lines of Vetrimaaran’s ‘Oor Aravu’ in the anthology drama ‘Paava Kadhaigal’, Karuna Kumar’s mark is visible here. The emotional ending is the best part of the movie.
Like ‘Uppena’, ‘Sridevi Soda Center’ thankfully moves beyond the usual tropes of films set in the Godavari such as ‘glorifying food items’, ‘large family gatherings and celebrations. It tries to portray the social fabric, the caste conflicts in a seemingly idyllic and picturesque land.
For a change, we can see Sudheer Babu’s acting skills besides his abs (there is too much focus on his six-pack body). However, he is too ‘matured’ for this lover boy role. The charming Anandhi adds a layer of authenticity to the story with her convincing portrayal. But it is VK Naresh who walks away with honors.
Shamdat once again captures the beauty of the Godavari region in his style. His cinematography and production design have helped. Mani Sharma’s music is a weak part.
Bottom line: ‘Sridevi Soda Center’ is yet another addition to the Indian movies with the theme of ‘caste killings’. Barring a deftly handled climax portion, it has predictable beats from start to end.
By: Jalapathy Gudelli
Film: Sridevi Soda Center
Cast: Sudheer Babu, Anandhi, Pavel Navageethan, Naresh,
Music: Mani Sharma
Editor: Sreekara Prasad
Cinematography: Shamdat Sainudeen
Producers: Vijay Chilla, Sasi Devireddy
Written and direction: Karuna Kumar
Release Date: August 27, 2021