How often have we heard our parents complain about how we don’t spend enough time with them? Or that we do not visit them and prioritise our work-life over spending time with the family. Normally we brush it aside as something every parent says. But Satish Vegesna’s Shatamanam Bhavati shows us the story from the parents’ viewpoint, delves deeper into the anguish and sadness that they feel at being neglected by their kids and sends a strong message to people who absorb themselves with social media and other forms of technology and forget the simple values in life. In a nutshell, Shatamanam Bhavati is a simple film about family values, told with a touch of melodrama and some neat narration.
The film is set in a village called Atreyapuram where Raghava Raju (Prakash Raj) is a well-respected person whose counsel villagers seek when they face any problem. He stays with his wife Janakamma (Jayasudha), while their children stay overseas. Before the Sankranthi festival, Janakamma wishes for the entire family to be together again and requests her husband to call their kids home. Knowing that his children might make excuses if he calls them, Raghava Raju devises a clever plan to bring them all under the same roof. However, there are quite a few problems within the family and the wounds grow deeper as they all come together. What happens when Janakamma finds out about her husband’s plan, and how their village-bred grandson Raju (Sharwanand) can bring the whole family together, makes for the rest of the film.
There is a sense of predictability to the story that keeps nagging at you. Like most family stories, there is a bit of trouble between family members, a young man who tries to keep them all together and a strict grandfather who is both feared and respected. The love story tends to drag on for longer than it should. The focus often deviates to the love story between Raju and Nithya (Anupama Parameswaran). The romance is predictably boring as we see the same old ‘baava-mardalu’ equation blossom into a love story.
Visually though, Shatamanam Bhavati is a treat to watch. The grand celebration of the Sankranthi festival is beautifully shown in the movie, and the screen is often filled with vibrant colours and laughter. There’s also a conscious attempt to send a message across to the digital generation on how to respect family values. “Farming is not a job, it’s a way of life,” Prakash Raj tells his little grandson, who questions how little money they make. There’s also an instance where Sharwanand shuts off cable connection and mobile networks in the whole village, so that the family spends time with each other, rather than with their gadgets.
The best moments in Shatamanam Bhavati are reserved for Prakash Raj, who revels as the family patriarch. His screen presence is so powerful that you wish to see more of him than the hero. And that’s not criticism of Sharwanand, who puts in an earnest performance. His characterization though is slightly questionable, as he’s portrayed as this golden-hearted man who can do no wrong. Anupama Parameswaran has a meaty role and does it well. Jayasudha, like Prakash Raj, plays her character with effortless ease, and does a wonderful job.
Shatamanam Bhavati delivers exactly what it promised. There are no fights or punch dialogues or extravagant songs in foreign locales. It’s just a simple story of family values and ethics. If you’re the kind who enjoys such films, then you will love Shatamanam Bhavati. If not, it can be a bit of a drag.
|Cast||Prakash Raj, Jayasudha, Sharwanand, Anupama Parameswaran|