What’s it about?
Set in 2002 in Uppada – Kakinada region, the story talks about the love relation between Sangeetha aka Babyamma (Krithi Shetty), the daughter of Kotagiri Sesha Rayanam (Vijay Sethupathi), and a fisherman Aashirwadaham aka Aashi. Babyamma’s from an upper-caste Hindu, Aashi is a poor Christian. How do they meet? Well, Aashi has developed a liking for her since his childhood when he first saw her at a Durgah in their village. But Babyamma only falls for him when she is returning from college and sees him beating her brother-in-law. Her brother-in-law has been harassing her and she hates him.
Babyamma falls for him for this simple reason besides the fact that she is not getting affection and love from her father. They do romance hiding on the beach and pop the cherry on a boat.
When Rayanam comes to know her daughter has fallen for a low-caste guy, he feels his ‘prestige’ has fallen, his family’s honor gone. He does anything for the honor. What will he do now as his daughter has already given her heart and body to Aashi? Watch the drama on the screen.
Love Stories with themes of honor killing or pride are slowly becoming the regular pattern in Tollywood. After the Marathi blockbuster ‘Sairat’ mesmerized the audience, Telugu films like ‘Dorasaani’, and ‘Color Photo’ have explored the same theme by placing them in a different milieu. As we have seen in these two Telugu films, ‘Uppena’ also does have a period background. The story takes place in 2002.
‘Uppena’ talks about two things in particular – paruvu (casteism/honor) and magatanam (masculinity). At the very beginning of the story, Babyamma’s teacher explains the true meaning of a being man. When the girl students laugh at the picture of a male organ, the lecturer gives a new definition of manliness. In one of the early scenes, when Rayanam (Vijay Sethupathi) orders tea, and he finds that it doesn’t have enough sugar in it. He doesn’t like to throw away the tea, instead, he puts sugar in his mouth and says, “we have to throw away the part that is not working, not the entire thing”. These two sequences give what is going to come in the end.
New director Buchi Babu has worked more on such detailing than creating new situations or scenes. In cinematic language, we say they are ‘paying’ elements, which can be used in the latter part of the story. Since the plot is familiar, he has worked on these parts. The romantic scenes are clichéd, the conflict is not new. The casteism that it talks about has been dealt with before. The film also has outdated ideas of an 18-year-old girl talking about ‘getting’ a license (thaali) to right the ‘wrong’ (first experience). So, how to make it work? As I said, Buchi Babu has depended on the detailing.
He throws all the hints right from the beginning before revealing the twist in the end. To be fair, the twist is handled by the director so well. The actors have done a great job here, the dialogue writing is at its best. The meaning of true love and manliness is established well in the climax portions. This episode has turned the tide towards the film’s favor after we are presented with predictable situations.
While the plot and screenplay are filled with clichéd elements, he has brought out the best output from music director Devi Sri Prasad, extracted good chemistry from the new pair, and has painted the screen with colorful visuals. These have worked tremendously. If not for Devi Sri Prasad’s music and the visuals, the film would have been a dud.
Coming to performances, both the new pair have done a pretty good job. Vaisshnav Tej is suited to the role of a poor fisherman. He has shown ease. Krithi Shetty completely steals the show, with her beauty and with her expressions. She comes as a fresh daisy. Their chemistry has already become a talking point in its trailers and on the screen, it is even better.
Vijay Sethupathi’s character is written poorly, his role is too clichéd. However, he should be applauded for agreeing to play the role of father to Krithi Shetty. His stature does the magic rather than the character. After ‘Fidaa’, senior actor Sai Chand gets another meaty role, and he leaves his mark.
It is technicians who deserve all appreciation. Devi Sri Prasad and Samdat have put in the best output. Devi Sri Prasad’s songs and background score are the main highlights. The film is shot lavishly.
The director also is good at dialogue writing, but his direction is pretty ordinary. The second half is a complete rip-off of ‘Sairat’.
Bottom-line: ‘Uppena’ mostly depends on the new pair’s chemistry, the excellent musical track, and the visuals. With predictable story and regular narration, its momentum dips at many places, but the climax portion tides over in its favor. It may work with its target audiences – the youngsters.
By: Jalapathy Gudelli
Film: Uppena Cast: Vaisshnav Teja, Krithi Shetty, Vijay Sethupathi, and others Music: Devi Sri Prasad Director of Photography: Shamdat Sainudeen Editor: Naveen Nooli Producers: Naveen Yerneni, Y Ravi Shankar Written and directed by: Buchi Babu Sana Release Date: Feb 12, 2021