A Telugu remake of the Malayalam film of the same name, Classmates is a campus tale that focuses on relationships drawn into the vortex of volatile politics with doses of violence, unrest and death and some nostalgia and suspense.
The movie begins with the reunion of classmates, after a decade, to attend the inauguration of an auditorium dedicated to a former classmate Murali (Sharwananad), who died while studying in a hostel on the campus.
As the classmates arrive -- Ravi (Sumanth), Battu (Sunil) with his wife and child, Raji (Sada), Kashi and Razia -- the 'camaraderie' they share has an undertone of unease. Very soon, Ravi is found strangled in a hostel room with the strings of a guitar and is rushed to the hospital.
What unfolds subsequently is a story that moves back and forth between the presentt and past.
Ravi, who was a Student Federation of India leader is now a businessman in Mumbai while Battu, his best friend and 'comrade-in-arms', has come from Dubai. Raji is a well-known classical dancer while Satish is an MLA.
The student politics has a large bearing on the movie which is shown in a flashback. Satish (Ravi), a member of National Students Union of India is a wily guy aspiring to become an MLA. He befriends Raji (as her father is a MLA) in the hopes of occupying his seat. He hatches a plan of making Raji contest the college elections thereby breaking the friendship and bond of love developing between Raji and Kiran.
He resorts to any means to create misunderstanding between Raji and Kiran and the two finally break up. Ravi leaves college after Murali's death without appearing for his final exams. Razia too leaves college
Cut to the present and we find Ravi still unconscious. The puzzle is slowly solved by Sunil, Murali's father, Raji and Razia (Komalini). Ravi's condition keeps the suspense alive.
A certain element of mystery is added by Razia, a rather silent girl, dressed in a purdah who flits in and out of the screen.
The story of the film is rather thin and is made better by the screenplay which was adapted by director K Vijayabhaskar. His effort in trying to do something different from the usual is to be recognised. But somehow this adaptation in Telugu (the Malayalam original, directed by Lal Jose was a hit) seems to have fallen into the commercial trap of including songs and dance, and the romance between the lead pair Ravi and Raji.
The non-linear narrative with a suspense element somehow fails to grip the viewer. So do the twists and turns in the relationships. As there is not much complexity or layering, it is fairly easy to guess the turn of events. In that sense, the climax seems to be tame.
Performance-wise, Sumanth is able to bring out the emotions required as a student and as a mature man. With two get-ups, Sumanth manages both the roles smoothly.
Sunil provides comic relief -- a role which comes easily to him.
Sharwanand does a decent job in a rather small part while Sada and Komalini Mukherjee do what is required of them.
Classmates is on a slightly different track from the ordinary but don't expect too much from it.