'Peddha Kapu 1', produced by Dwaraka Creations, was released in theatres today (September 29). Here is our review of the latest box-office release.
The story is set somewhere in Andhra Pradesh. The time period is the early 1980s. Satya Rangaiah (Rao Ramesh) and Bhaiyanna (Aadukalam Naren) are political rivals in the village. The latter has been waiting for his turn to become the biggest leader in the mandal.
In this context, NT Rama Rao sets up the TDP, threatening the entrenched political interests of the National Party. This is when Peddha Kapu (debutant Virat Karrna), who is looked up to as a gutsy youngster by the oppressed class in the village, becomes an alternative power center in the village. His rise is not tolerated by the vested feudal interests.
Debutant Virat Karrna's screen presence is dull. The newcomer struggles to embody the physicality required for the role. One hopes his performance arc is better in the second edition of 'Peddha Kapu'.
Most of the artists are primarily confined to portraying anger, agitation, or sorrow all the time. Anasuya Bharadwaj's performance tends toward melodrama although hers is the only character arc that holds some interest. Brigada Saga is boring.
Srikanth Addala, Rao Ramesh, and Naren are effective despite the writing being ordinary. Naga Babu is okayish in the role of an arbiter who is detached but not indifferent. Tanikella Bharani, again, leans toward melodrama. Rajeev Kanakala is over-the-top, perennially holding tears in his eyes right from the first scene. Eeshwari Rao's performance, to put it mildly, is irritating; she is seen shouting at others throughout.
Chota K Naidu's cinematography is not out of tone. However, it is somewhat flaccid for the genre. Mickey J Meyer's background score doesn't fully capitalize on the material. Peter Hein's action choreography is not inventive; the fights are bogged down by the overdose of convenience written into multiple turning points. Murders and killings take place all the time. Most of those supposedly momentous scenes didn't require an action director. They are basic and the staging lacks force.
When the tensions run high, the film has no grip on its material. When there is no tension, there is no drama. That's 'Peddha Kapu 2' for you. Hot-headed characters and the escalating conflicts in their lives should have been shown with skill.
The inter-caste dynamics have been understood in a purely functional, superficial way. The social hierarchy in the village is established through dialogues. The negative characters keep making their casteist arrogance and malevolence obvious. Once they are done uttering socially offensive lines, the drama inevitably shifts to bloodshed and violence.
The biggest problem with this film is that it makes revolution look quite easy. Right from his first scene, the titular character is shown as a masala film hero. He doesn't come across as a commoner unless he is with his mother and father. Every time something extraordinary has to happen, bloodshed happens in a grotesque manner. It would have been sensational had the build-up of tension been novel. But there is no building up that is done.
The negative characters are static. We know what they are like right from their first scene. The only surprising element is the one that involves Anasuya's character. Another plus is that, in the last 30 minutes of the film, the director somehow manages to draw the audience into a certain mood. This mood-setting is absent in the entire first half.
'Peddha Kapu 1' explores themes of retribution and revolt. The plot is centered around the clash between the arrogant haves and the powerless have-nots. But repetitive ideas, basic plotting, poor performances, unoriginal treatment and convenient killings test the audience's patience.