'Phalana Abbayi Phalana Ammayi', produced by TG Vishwa Prasad and Padmaja Dasari, was released in theatres today.
In 2010, Sanjay (Naga Shaurya) and Anupama (Malvika Nair) are trying to move on after they develop friction. There was a time when they were in love with each other. Today, their relationship is broken. How did they start out? How long did they take to fall in love with each other? Why did their live-in relationship enter a lean patch? That's what the film is about.
The film presents personal conversations that feel organic. When Anupama tells Sanjay, who is still just her friend, that they are going overboard in public, making people around them believe they are a couple, it strikes the right chord with the (multiplex) audience. Anupama shows eagerness when she is spotted wearing a saree for the first time. She waits for Sanjay to turn up at a family function and the sense of anticipation is brought out through her body language. Many lines are unspoken and the conversations happen through silent glances and non-verbal cues.
The use of the song 'Neeli Meghama' in the context of Puja (Megha Chowdhury) may not be smart but it works somehow. Puja is the new girl on the block, potentially wooing Sanjay. The introduction of Puja as a privileged brat is cliched but thankfully she doesn't overstay her welcome. The conversations are a series but they are not unending.
There are no disrespectful jokes targeted at sidekicks. Valentine (Abhishek Maharshi), Keerthi (Srividya Maharshi) and other supporting actors/friends have been given their rightful place in the script without the need for cliches.
Somewhere, the film also presents the idea of a rebound relationship. The introduction of a character named Neelima (Harini Rao) as an unwanted companion comes with a touch of comic relief.
"Sorry, it was a little awkward", and "Everyone goes through a phase like this" and such lines give the impression that the writer-director Srinivas Avasarala invested thought in writing the love story. Anupama conceals her feelings for the most part and when she expresses herself, she does so without melodrama. 'Kanula Chaatu Meghama', composed by Kalyani Malik, is aided by the mood. The 'Nuvve Kavali' reference is also good, considering it was seen as a classic by the audience in the early 2000s.
The entry of Srinivas Avasarala's Giri somehow gives the impression that the story is not headed to a point where Anupama takes him seriously. The post-interval pacing issues are hard to overlook.
What lies at the root of the relationship coming apart hasn't been portrayed well. What the breakup will mean to Sanjay is not brought out well. Somehow, the climax didn't feel earned. Things are not entirely contrived, but the film definitely needed to be a little more profound and complex.
The performances are neat. Naga Shaurya must be appreciated for backing soft films like this one and 'Jyo Achyutananda' from time to time. Malvika Nair might look like a true-blue multiplex heroine, but her acting is appreciable.
'PAPA' is not your cup of tea if you prefer love stories that move at a fast clip. This conversational love story threatens to bore you for a good 40 minutes or so during a run-time of 128 minutes. Be prepared!