“Mallesham”… A biopic that works because it focuses on the man as much as his machine

Posted on June 25, 2019


Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/mallesham-movie-review-priyadarshi-baradwaj-rangan

Raj Rachakonda’s Mallesham is the story of Padma Shri recipient Chintakindi Mallesham (played by Priyadarshi), and on the surface, it’s your standard-issue story about a man with a dream. Mallesham belongs to a family of impoverished Pochampally weavers. His father (Chakrapani Ananda) does the actual weaving, but first, the yarn has to be prepared by the painstakingly labour-intensive Ikat dyeing and patterning process — and that’s done by Mallesham’s mother, Lakshmi (a very affecting Jhansi). As a result, Lakshmi develops shoulder pains. Mallesham resolves to put an end to his mother’s troubles and also keep an indigenous tradition alive. The broad arc of the story reminds you of Arunachalam Muruganantham, who was also moved by a woman’s plight (his wife’s) and created a machine to make low-cost sanitary pads. But unlike Pad Man, the movie made from that story, Mallesham is not headlined by a big star. That is the first of many things this winning film gets right. It’s not a star vehicle. It’s a vehicle for a common man who, rightfully, should be celebrated as a star.

Mallesham tells his mother, “I will make this machine because no one else will. Because no one else understands this kind of suffering.” The sentiment is wholly admirable, but you don’t want to watch a movie filled with this kind of noble-mindedness. (Extreme goodness has a way of drooping and dying on the screen.) So the director, who wrote the film with Peddinti Ashok Kumar, fills the frames with as much colour as we see in the saris. I’m not talking about Balu Sandilyasa’s cinematography, which resists the temptation to exploit the textile background for a series of “beautiful” images. (There’s, say, a flash of blue yarn during a song sequence. Otherwise, the camerawork is as low-key and dignified as the rest of the film.) The colour, instead, comes from the place, and the people.

Continued at the link above.

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Posted in: Cinema: Telugu