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Nagavalli is fascinating

December 16, 2010 16:00 IST

Radhika Rajamani reviews the Telugu movie, Nagavalli. Post YOUR reviews here!

Films made on spirit/ghosts sure evoke curiosity and attract audience. The Tamil film Chandramukhi, dubbed in Telugu, which was a remake of the Malayalam movie Manichitrathazhu was a huge hit. So was the sequel Aptarakshaka (in Kannada) to Aptamitra (remake of Chandramukhi).

Now the Telugu remake of Aptarakshaka titled Nagavalli does bring back the same issue of the spirit/ghost of Chandramukhi though one thought it was settled in the earlier film.

It now haunts and creates problems in another house -- that of Shankar Rao in Tirupati. Psychiatrist Dr Vijay (Venkatesh) is called by Ramchandra Siddhanti (Avinash) to help solve the mystery. In fact a painting of Nagavalli in the house is said to be the root cause of all problems.

Well, Nagavalli works because of a good screenplay, fine performances and the fact that it's made in the commercial realm. Also, the dialogues between the siddhanti and the doctor are not didactic or verbose, therefore easily understandable by the common man. Though there are references to the original (in a way to connect it) but Nagavalli can be seen as a standalone film as well.

Nagavalli is largely a frame to frame remake of Aptharakshaka but has a few new scenes added to it.

P Vasu, who wrote the screenplay and helmed Aptarakshaka, reprises his role again in Nagavalli. He has ensured that the film is entertaining for the audience with some doses of inbuilt humour and a couple of songs which do tend to jar a bit but it doesn't spoil the overall picture. His screenplay is good and what stands out is the fact that he's been able to weave in the entertainment factor into an otherwise serious subject. In the process the seriousness of the subject may have been diluted a bit but the entertainment has received a huge boost. Some portions towards the end appear a tad silly and far-fetched too.

Dr Vijay (Venkatesh) comes to the house of Shankar Rao (Sarath Babu) and rattles off the family history of each of the daughters and other family members much to their astonishment. He even mentions one daughter missing (which is hidden from him and the siddhanti). There's Appa Rao (Dharmavarapu), Shankar Rao's brother-in-law and his wife and daughters too. Vijay's assistant (played by Brahmanandam) comes along wit him. Slowly Dr Vijay unravels the mystery piece by piece, while the siddhanti too goes about his job in tandem.

The first half is quite interesting and the screenplay is quite taut barring the introductory song of Venkatesh (on his completion of 25 years in the industry, which was rather unnecessary) and the humorous scenes with Brahmanandam.

The surprise is in the second half. Venky appears as Nagabhairava Rajasekhara, a cruel ruler of Venkatapuram samsthan. And post interval the narrative goes back and forth unfolding the drama of Nagavalli.

The science versus tradition/superstition dialogues are easy to follow. Since this is a film involving dialogues between the doctor and the siddhanti, it could have become philosophical but the director and the dialogue writers (Paruchuri brothers) keep it within the realm of the common man.

Venkatesh is remarkable as Dr Vijay and the king and effortlessly slips into both the roles. His regal looks (due to his costumes and jewellery), stature and aura are worth a watch. Anushka is pretty and beguiling. Richa Gangopadhyay impresses especially towards the end. Kamalinee Mukherjee and Shraddha Das chip in with good performances. Brahmanandam (though he has a slightly different role), Sarath Babu and Dharamavarapu are at their usual best.

Guru Kiran's background music heightens the mood appropriately on many occasions. The art work of Chinna sets the tone of the film especially the scenes at the old building etc. Thankfully in this film one doesn't see foreign locales and instead the temples of Badami and other locations come alive. Sam K Naidu's camera work is good. Marthand K. Venkatesh has done a decent job editing the film.

Nagavalli makes for a fascinating and interesting watch for the family.

Rediff Rating:

Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad