"Something that happens once can never happen again, but something that happens twice will surely happen a third time" said Paulo Coelho and I'm sure 'Krish', erstwhile known as Jagarlamudi Radhakrishna couldn't agree more. Vedam, his second directorial endeavour, had been running in housefulls for almost three weeks when me and my friend G.T. decided to watch it yesterday. The movie stars Allu Arjun, Manoj Manchu, Anushka Shetty, Manoj Bajpai and a certain Mr. Nagaiah as the leads. It is set in present day Hyderabad and belongs to the drama genre.
The film is about five different people living five very different lives and how one fateful encounter at a hospital changes their lives forever ... very Tollywoodsy, no?
There's Vivek Chakravarthy, played by Manoj Manchu.The proverbial rich kid. The guitar-playing, emo hair-ed, kohl-eyed, bandana-wearing, dimpled (awww ... ) wanna-be rockstar who finally gets his big break. He comes with heavy genealogy too. His father and grand father were army heroes who died in war. All the more reason for his mum to nag him about him about being responsible, choosing a respectable career ... *yawn* and the works. She goes ballistics when she hears that he's off to Hyderabad the next morning.
Then, there's Ramulu, played by Nagaiah, the old weaver from Sirisilla. Poor and illiterate, he lives with his widowed daughter-in-law, and his math-wiz of a grandson Srinu. He is heavy in debt and needs to pay off Patel, the money-lender who has his men abduct little Srinu and refuses to return him until he gets his money back. Desperately in need of money, Ramulu agrees to sell his daughter-in-law's kidney for Rs. 40,000 and to make this 'donation' they got to Hyderabad.
Then we are introduced to Saroja, played by Anushka Shettey, the ... er ... courtesan, from Amalapuram. She is unhappy about her present 'working' conditions and strikes a deal to start a new 'biginess' in Hyderabad. She escapes to Hyderabad along with another courtesan she fondly calls 'akka'. She reaches Hyderabad, only to realize that she had been tricked and sold to another 'dealer'.
Anand Raju, played by Allu Arjun, is an educated, unemployed youth residing in the slums of Jubilee Hills. He is reduced to collecting 'fee' for electricity supply in the slums and is known as 'Cable Raju' among the slum-dwellers. He immediately needs Rs. 40,000 to take his rich girlfriend to a new years' party. She is unaware that he is poor and he plans to trick her into marrying him. He tries various approaches to get the money, including chain snatching. He finally does get the money and almost pays for the passes, only to be stopped by his conscience.
Raheemuddin Qureshi, played by Manoj Bajpai, is a Muslim, living in Hyderabad. He is leaving for Sharjah shortly, along with his wife. It is revealed that Raheem's family had been the victim of communal violence during a Ganesh Utsav celebration in the Old City. They are yet again subjected to communal discrimination on the last day of his stay in Hyderabad. He and certain members of his family are accused of terrorist activities. He pleads innocent but is taken into custody.
What is really admirable in this film is that it touches various relevant social issues prelevant in the state. Like how the story of Ramulu is about the suicide of weavers in Sirisilla village. It is depicted how organ trade goes about, though it is illegal. How brazenly and mercilessly illiterates are cheated. Cable Raju's story touches upon the issue of unemployment. It also illustrates how materialistic society has become, or rather, how it always has been.
Saroja's story highlights the problem of prostitution which is widely prevalent in the Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh. Why and how it goes unchecked is also outlined in the film. Illustrating the rarely touched subject of communal discrimination was, in my opinion, a bold step taken by the director. And the film is given a very Rang-de-Basanti-ish element by Manoj Manchu's character Vivek. He really gets the spoilt-rich-kid-saves-country thing going there.
Sterling performances have been given by all the actors in the film. The film's forte lies in it's brilliant story line which appeals to almost every type of audience, though the music could have been better. Me and G.T. were to be found positively howling in grief during the last half hour of the film, to the amusement and slight dismay of others in the hall. It has to be said that 'Vedam' is one of the best Telugu movies I have watched in a long long time.