Awe : brilliant filmmaking or wannabe different cinema

By Bharath Kvt Feb. 19, 2018, 06:56 am IST
Awe : brilliant filmmaking or wannabe different cinema

Awe : brilliant filmmaking or an operatic plunge at being different cinema

Awe is a one of it's kind sorta film. The trailer didn’t give away anything, except the fact that a few well-known actors have come together to do something new. A film like this can be a double-edged sword, with potential to be a game changer or end up as an experiment not many would care to watch. Awe turned out to be a gamechanger, shape-shifting film as it introduced its key characters and the strange worlds they inhabit.

Debutant director Prasanth Varma wrote the script of Awe after a series of disappointments as many of his films were shelved because the producers developed cold feet at the last minute. He wrote this film with the idea of producing it as well. The budget he had in mind was Rs 5 lakh. With that money, he could not have afforded many things. Like A-list actors, top-notch technical team, flamboyant sets, and costumes among many others things that we get to see in the finished product that reached the cinemas today.The only way Prasanth could have made the audience care less about the quality of the production is by making them care more about the story and characters in it. He had to write a strong script filled with interesting characters, intriguing situations and backed it up with a gripping narration. And Awe is exactly that. It has high entertainment value, strong emotions, progressive characters, thrills, chills, comedy and some philosophy. Prasanth could have even made this film work without big actors or fancy sets in it. It’s a good thing that Nani found Prasanth and supported him financially to present the story on a bigger scale with seasoned actors and help it get a huge release worldwide.

Director gave this movie an American TV series thriller treatment. Leaving us the audience hanging on a cliffhanger, while he jumps to the next genre. The best part is we don’t have to wait until next week to know what happens. The suspense will end in about 20 minutes. And that’s a relief. Since we care about all the characters, their stories and what happens to them, we tend to generously forgive Prasanth for playing with our minds and emotions.What caught my attention in Prasanth’s writing is the clarity. He exactly knows what he wants to say and says so without any difficulty. The ensemble cast imbibes the plot with endearing performances adding layers to the unfolding drama.

Prashant  discusses issues of gender, abuse, identity and loss through a fabulous set of characters (aptly enacted by the several actors in this film) and an idea that holds it all together. The crux of the story lies in the last 15-20 minutes as the narrative shifts back and forth to a crucial point that changes the course of things. Amid all the initial comedy scenes, there are several cues —  Take for instance, the segment revolving around Nithya Menen and Eesha. I cannot think of any other film in recent times that addressed gender issues in such a meaningful and well-intentioned manner. In a span of 20 minutes, the segment focusing on these actors turns into a commentary on marriage, gender, mental health and child abuse among many other things. Then there is another segment featuring Srinivas Avasarala which deals with time travel. Then, there is another segment shot on Priyadarshi, which draws parallels between people who fall short of achieving their dreams and how they find solace in each other’s company.

What makes awe really compelling is that the whole movie is shot at one place a fancy looking food court that has so many stories going around. The food court itself is a character in the film. It has a coffee shop, a library, restaurant and lots of lovable characters. Each character is too busy to care what’s happening at the next table and stay put on their side of the food court. They are compartmentalised and lost in their own problems. It is difficult to talk about the film without not talking much about the seven stories, each different from one another, but revealing anything about them would be a crime. Awe! is a film that has to be experienced for what it is worth and only then it begins to make sense why it leaves us with mixed bag of feelings in the end.

All performances are applaud worthy throughout the film. Whether it is Nithya Menen as a psychiatrist, or Priyadarshi as a chef, or even the fish and a bonsai tree, every actor has a distinct character which clashes with the personality of others within their subplot. Kajal Aggarwal too gets plenty to work with within her limited screen time and she emotes quite well. Regina Cassandra, Eesha, Srinivas Avasarala, Rohini and Devadarshini too have interesting roles, and they deliver noteworthy performances. The film’s production design is splendid and Karthik Ghattamneni’s cinematography is simply bliss and hatsoff to music composer Mark Robbin for giving a distinct pattern to all the different sub-plots.

Awe, the film left me awed with its technical brilliance, almost flawless writing and sheer capability of the debut director. Awe! gave me plenty of reasons to root for the concept, because let us face it, when was the last time you saw a Telugu film which expected you to pay so much attention to every single thing that happens on screen? But it doesn't make you feel  over-indulgent though because Varma has a solid grip on his craft and knows the impact he wants to create with every twist and turn but the moment you begin to feel that Awe! is a cool concept that does not have the same impact when it is turned.

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