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Happy Days -- Go for it!
Radhika Rajamani | September 28, 2007 11:38 IST
Rewind to the good ol' days...Walk down memory lane...Go on a nostalgic trip�Well these could be some epithets to describe Sekhar Kammula's Happy Days. The film is indeed a huge slice of college life -- the days and years which are embedded in most minds. Watching a Sekhar Kammula film is indeed sweet and refreshing -- a whiff of fresh air which has permeated the celluloid horizon otherwise replete with mostly stereotypical and run-of-the-mill fare.
The storyline of Happy Days is very simple. But it's here that Sekhar spins a perfect yarn deftly weaving a story with perfect characterisation. Sekhar is indeed a good raconteur -- his Anand and Godavari were simple stories well told. A simple story may sound easy to film but on the contrary it is not -- it requires immaculate story telling to keep the audience engrossed. And Sekhar with his sensibilities scores high on this ground.
Student films are hard to come by. And even if there are, they seem to be either away from reality or full of action and violence. But in Happy Days, Sekhar looks at the positive side of student life. Imagine scripting a film revolving around four years of life in an engineering college. But Sekhar does it with elan.
Get set to wind the clock back. The film is so relatable even though one may have passed out of college decades back. It is the tale of eight characters -- freshers who enter the Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology (the film is shot in the college Sekhar's alma mater) namely Chandu (Varun Sandesh), Rajesh (Nikhil), Tyson (Raahul), Shankar (Vamsee Krishna), Madhu (Tamanna), Apu (Gayatri Rao), Sangeetha (Monali Chowdhury) and Shravanti (Sonia) primarily narrated by Chandu.
The film unfolds with freshers, ragging, animosity between the seniors and juniors and their fights, freshers' parties, friendships between freshers, jealousy, competition, love, betrayal, crush on the teacher, sentiments and spending happy times together. Woven in between all this is the love element. Chandu and Madhu take a liking to each other, Tyson loves Sonia (a senior), Shankar loves Sangeeta who turns the tables on Shankar, Nikhil initially has a crush on the English teacher Shreya (Komalini Mukherjee) but later likes Apu. Things are not smooth for each of them.
Sekhar is on familiar terrain and may even 'sound autobiographical' to some extent. Any viewer may feel connected or relatable to the characters or the essence of college life portrayed.
Each character is so well etched with particular traits, temperament and characteristics so believable -- a hallmark of Sekhar, who's casting is excellent. And each of the debutantes (Varun, Nikhil, Raahul, Vamsee Krishna, Gayatri Rao, Sonia, Monali Chowdhury) and Tamanna (the only one with acting experience) perform so naturally -- it's as if they are living the roles and behaving like the characters.
Again thanks to Sekhar's good script and training that transformed the non-actors into good performers. The hard work put in by the newcomers is surely going to win them accolades. In fact the names of the characters are etched in the mind, lingering on as you walk out of the theatre. The actors who don the seniors' garb also do what is expected of them. Komalini Mukherjee is impressive in her cameo.
The first half establishes the characters and sets the pace of the film. All the masti, hungama, zing etc is interspersed. The film has some good, humorous and slightly 'bizarre' moments too -- Tyson's scientific experiments through his various chemical compositions injected into eggs (whereby there is no proper co-ordination between mind and body) to tease the fat senior, the box of love letters the English teacher shows Nikhil, some parts of the wooing by the boys and vice versa.
Some amount of eclecticism in the class composition is also made evident -- in terms of economic status and rural upbringing (thankfully it's not on casteist lines). Post summer-break (oops interval), the film gets quite emotional and slightly heavy as compared to the first. It's here that the film tends to drag a wee bit till it picks up some steam with some messages laced in towards the end.
The background score and the music are again by a young music director Mickey J Meyers. The music is quite 'youthful' though the songs (at least a few of them) are like the signature tune of the film.
Camera work by Vijay C Kumar is equally proficient in bringing out the mood of the film.
This is perhaps the first instance that a Telugu film is being released in the US (September 28) before India (October 2).
Sekhar's clean entertainment formula makes for family viewing. Don't miss Happy Days for you will be reminded of the days gone by. Savour that nostalgia as Sekhar gives you ample amount of it.
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