ప్రస్థానం-A positive film on human’s negative side
Since the days of Maya Bazaar, there are hardly any Telugu films that can be called character studies (like Satya or Sarkaar etc.) Films that question the norm like Maro Prapancham, or Maa Bhoomi are hardly remembered. All we have today are either half baked message-oriented films or entertainers.
Prasthanam (literal meaning: the rise) will be remembered as a film that changed all this.
The basic story is about Lokinath (Sai Kumar) who is an ardent follower of an ideal Mandal President. Situations force him to marry the president’s widowed daughter in law. She already has a daughter and also a son named Mitra. When she has another son with Lokinath, the daughter neither approves of her step father nor her step brother. Mitra however loves his step dad and also becomes his step dad’s right hand man on his growth in politics.
Jump cut to 25 years later, the third kid grows up into a spoilt Chinna (Sandeep Kishan) who envies his step brother’s (Sharwanand) proximity to his dad. His deeds bring the characters at loggerhead with one another. In the end the film is all about the questionable rise and pitiable fall of each character.
Except the heroine’s character every character in Prasthanam is intriguing, laid out well and layered. The dialogue, background music, and cinematography ensure that you just keep watching as the drama unfolds.
But what deserves a clap, praise and an award is the screenplay. Just to elaborate on it – by the end of the first half, you don’t look at a conflict between good and bad, rather you are forced to look at how long can the conflict sustain and what price will each character pay for the conflict to end.
You will wonder who is the villain and who is the hero till the climax comes in, and yet this isn’t a thriller. You can call it a film that deals with existentialism and philosophy but this one doesn’t preach nor does it take sides with any character. Instead you somehow relate to the envious Chinna as much as you understand the loving Mitra!
However no film comes out perfect. A film such as this one works on its intensity. The heroine’s character, few comedy scenes where the prime characters aren’t involved and song sequences break the intensity. This could work against the overall feel of the film.
Sharwanand acts superbly as Mitra who is torn between his father’s love and step brother’s misdeeds. He has improved a lot since Gamyam and looks like he worked on his dialogue delivery. Sai Kumar, who otherwise is known for loud characters, plays a rather subdued role as a father. For once he justifies his blessed voice with dialogues that are real and controlled. Sandeep Kishan as the jealous brother almost takes the cake from Sharwanand with his performance. Jaiprakash causes as much laughs as Jeeva brings as much villainy. Surekha Vani has a substantial role and she performs easily.
Sham Datt’s cinematography is an asset to the film. Choreography of Evado vaadu deserves a mention.
But by the end of the film you will realize how all these people are just on one side of common balance. On the other side is the director Deva Katta. He walks the tight rope of making an off-beat philosophical film and yet also captivates the audiences. Infact it is almost impossible to make a positive film on the negative shades of human mindset and Deva Katta makes it possible. (This reviewer with his limited knowledge can hardly point one single movie in any language that does this)
Shekhar Kapur (the famous Indian director) somewhere said that a story should work at four levels – plot level, psychological level, political or social level and mythological level. There are hardly any Telugu movies that touch three levels. Prasthanam touches all four levels and how!
Prasthanam may not be a great film, but it would be no exaggeration to say that this is one of its kind Telugu film, and an important film for Telugu film industry. At last there is one Telugu film that will now contend for a national award.