SR Kalyanamandapam sheds light on the strained relationship between Dharma (Sai Kumar) and his son Kalyan (Kiran Abbavaram). For a story that has got enough potential to play to the galleries, it’s sad that director Sridhar Gade fails to present it dramatically and convincingly. The film is narrated to you like a boring class that puts you to sleep.
There is a sense of promise in the script’s exploration of a complicated father-son relationship. Unfortunately, the pressure to load it with songs and juvenile jokes results in a predictable narrative. The second hour of the film is exhausting as it checks every mediocre family entertainer you can think of.
Instead of showing us where the cracks in the father-son relationship first set in, the director just moves along with his narration, thus never letting us get hooked to the core conflict.
The film has brought back into focus the objectification of women in Telugu cinema. The female lead – Sindhu (Priyanka Jawalkar)’s waist (nadumu) has become an integral character in the film and the director has made almost everyone in the college talk about it in the first hour. It’s interesting that Kiran Abbavaram (also the story and dialogue writer of the film) uses the iconic Kushi (2001) waist scene blueprint to stage the story in the face of a hero trying to impress or woo the heroine.
Besides this, the lead pair go on a slapping spree and end up slapping each other six times! While it is understandable that the hero-heroine chemistry has to be an important aspect of the film, but this very idea of the conflict is all too familiar.
There’s a lot going on in the film, but everything ends up as hotchpotch. The slow and steady shift from a love story to family drama would have been a heartfelt and poignant journey that the film doesn’t quite embark on. The narrative struggles to translate the director’s intention to the screen. Every scene in the film opens and ends middle-of-the-road, never quite lets the audience invest in the tale.
Dharma’s drunken antics, Kalyan’s display of his feelings to Sindhu, and the run-of-the-mill climax aren’t effective in its emotional heft. The film has little use of its leading lady, except for the lackluster college sequences that boast about her waist. Tulasi, who played Sai Kumar’s wife, Shanti, gels well in an uninhibited character. Kiran Abbavaram delivers a confident performance and he brings grace and ease to the part. The likable Sai Kumar gets trapped in a not-so-likable character and this is certainly one of SR Kalyanamandapam’s strengths and weaknesses.
After a not-so-convincing performance in Thimmarusu, Priyanka Jawalkar adopts a caricaturish approach to playing Sindhu, and unfortunately, her character is poorly etched. Bigg Boss contestant Gangavva makes her presence felt in a special role. Chaitan Bharadwaj’s music works in a couple of songs.
With a run-time of 148-minutes, SR Kalyanamandapam is the kind of film that has been caught in the trappings of a 90s potboiler. Had this been judiciously edited, the film might have been a one-time watch over the weekend.
Cast: Kiran Abbavaram, Priyanka Jawalkar, Sai Kumar
Director: Sridhar Gade