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Life is Beautiful ( Telugu Movie) : Musings

Truth & beauty: these comprise the goal of art. Few works of art do justice to either. Rarer still do justice to both. Sekhar Kammula is one among the finest directors in Telugu with the penchant for weaving ordinary incidents in middle-class people’s life with extraordinary finesse and sensibility – combining truth & beauty. He is the directorial equivalent of R.K. Narayan.

Telugu movies by and large do not trust audiences’ intelligence. Experimenting is a taboo and the advertised novelty is confined to bringing in freshness to the routine formula stories. It is in this context, Kammula stands apart from the rest in truthfully portraying the middle-class sentiments and life and sketching them in detail. The underlying theme of Kammula’s movies has always been – Life is Beautiful – despite the problems, failures, disappointments, rejections, humiliations etc.

“Life is Beautiful” (LIB) is a nostalgic tour down the memory lane and will surely evoke the beautiful memories we all have about our childhood colony. In that age of innocence where the line between dream and reality is blurred! Where happiness is interspersed even with moments of sore tragedies. Where forgetfulness is a boon as the unpleasant memories are flushed out of mind.

LIB is few notches lower than Kammula’s movies so far. This I presume is mainly because he fell in love with his work and couldn’t assess the film objectively. But his sensitivity and sensibility is intact. The sensible scenes in the film by itself are rewarding and the rest is bonus. He has extracted good performances from the lead ensemble team all of whom are debutants.

The way Kammula portrays conflicts is interesting. In his films, instead of the surreal powerful cruel villains, we have antagonists whose flaw is egoism and indifference to fellow-humans rather than outright cruelty.

And none surpasses him in characterization of woman. Women in the Telugu movies exist merely because they are put on. Apart from appearances in songs they have little to do in the story. But in Kammula’s movies they are the essential ingredients of the cinematic palette – full of meaning, connection and harmony in relation to story.  They’re strong-willed, independent, earthy and sometimes full of vanity too. The manner in which he presents his lead ladies sensually without any trace of vulgarity is commendable.

In all his films, his focus is on the theme: The journey is the reward. Life is meant to be lived in full – disappointments form as much a part of life as successes. And what matters is the people who are with you during those testing times. Friends are the true treasure of any person.

As much as I appreciate Kammula’s movies, I also feel he is hopelessly idealistic & allows beauty to win over truth effortlessly. But that’s reel life. And nobody pays to see a sorrowful movie often a reflection of their own life. But as he says, in retrospect, life is indeed beautiful. The rough edges of past are smoothened and the rest embellished. The emotion once heartfelt becomes a distant reminder no longer relevant.  

Enough of pandering! Back to real life where things are as bitter as they are beautiful.              


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