ARJUN REDDY (2017)

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  • Release Date: 25/8/2017
  • Cast: Deverakonda Vijay, Shalini Pandey, Rahul Ramakrishna, Kanchana
  • Written and Directed by: Sandeep Reddy Vanga

Arjun Reddy was a blockbuster and that too at a time when no one expected it to be one. It has a runtime of 3 hours 3 minutes. It has a protagonist who isn’t one of the blazing superstars of the South. It has a heroine who is in no way the kind who would make your pulse soar with her svelte moves. The film doesn’t even have much of a story to tell. Frankly speaking, its plot can be summarized in three sentences. And yet here we are raving about it and having clear indications to the fact that it will definitely get a Hindi remake where Shahid Kapoor will reprise the role of Deverakonda Vijay and already has a Tamil remake en-route directed by the acclaimed Bala (Sethu, Naan Kadavul) and starring Vikram’s son Dhruv. The film is slated to release in November 2018.

Arjun Reddy Deshmukh (Deverakonda Vijay) is a resident doctor completing his internship at Saint Mary’s Medical College. He is the college topper and a brilliant surgeon. However, he has a serious anger management issue which puts him in trouble time and again. He soon meets Preety Shetty (Shalini Pandey) and falls madly in love with her. She loves him back with all her heart and the couple seems set for life. However, things take an early turn when Preety’s parents disapprove of the relation and Arjun loses his cool on Preety ultimately leading her to get married to someone else. Stacked up against the pain of losing the love of his life, Arjun spirals into self-destruction with substance abuse and uncontrolled sexual misadventures but continues to remain high-functioning in his professional field. This spiral ultimately leads him on a path of self-discovery.

Arjun Reddy is what it is because of its treatment and performances. The film takes a leisurely pace building up the romance through encounters of various types before the two actually hit it out. The first half of the film will not make much sense to many because it’s nothing more than a guy trying to woo a girl and then the two sharing a lot of romantic encounters before the real world catches up with them. Even in this portion the film never stagnates or bores you. On the contrary, you are constantly enthralled by the freshness and audacity that even the simple and straightforward sequences between the two has to offer. For a while you as the viewer are perplexed by the amount of control that Arjun has on Preety but with time, when you see her responding warmly to him, you get the point.

There is a sense of realism to everything on screen. Be it the scenes in the medical college that kick-start the proceedings, the portions involving Arjun’s tryst with his and Preety’s family or the scenes showing the camaraderie between Arjun and his friends Shiva (Rahul Ramakrishna) and Kamal (Kalyan Subramanyam). There is a gritty realism to everything on display. Even the romance is mostly stripped off any fluff even though there are certain tender moments here and there.

Post the breakup, the film turns into a whole new beast and this I believe is also the most rewarding portion of the film. Deverakonda reserves his best for this portion. His mannerisms, his rendition of the tragedy and his unique means to cope with the issues at hands is a treat to watch. The film starts with a cracking sequence wherein we see Arjun wake up and cope with his morning urges before making his way into the Operation Theater where he spends the rest of the day performing a record number of surgeries. I cannot recall another film with such an insane treatment of the portion that unfolds here. The film alternates between present and past seamlessly but the later portion mostly unfolds in the present times as does the first half in the past.

Shalini Pandey was the perfect choice for the role. She never for once seems like a person who could stand her ground against Arjun Reddy and because of that, her character feels so very real and effective. She is mostly missing in the second half but the hangover of her act from the first half remains with you as it impacts every action of the protagonist. It was interesting to note that she has very little dialogue in the film. Whatever little she speaks is in response to the questions of Arjun. That’s another thing that adds credibility to her character.

It would be blasphemous if a word or two was not spoken about the camaraderie that Arjun shares with his grandmother played by Kanchana. It’s interesting to note that it’s only her who has been able to decipher Arjun fully and she has this kind of soothing effect on the man that is his sole saving grace on more than one occasion. Even though she is unable to turn him away from self-destruction, her death is one of the biggest factors that turns Arjun away from a lot.

I have two major issues with the film. The first is that it has a lot of uncanny resemblances to the highly acclaimed film, “Flight”, starring Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot who cannot withstand his own falsehood anymore as he faces a trial after heroically saving a plane from crashing. A similar situation is referenced here when Arjun’s substance abuse is brought up after he collapses mid-way through a surgery and yet is able to save the patient by guiding the head nurse with the remaining procedure. This portion, which takes up a lot of time, goes exactly in the same way as Denzel’s story went in flight. There is straight lift off of a scene from Flight where Arjun is given coke to regain consciousness and remain focused during the trial. Even the manner in which he faces his trial is similar to Flight. For a film like this, it was uncalled for. The director should have known better.

I was also not particularly convinced by the climax and my reasons are primarily factual. When Arjun and Preety meet for the last time, it’s after a gap of 6 months as said by Arjun himself. After her marriage, in eight months, she gets pregnant and then, in the end, it is revealed that the kid belongs to Arjun. This was highly improbable as they didn’t even get a chance to kiss in between. This part ruined a lot for me of the film.

Having said all that, Arjun Reddy is still a revelation in terms of treatment and performances. I can’t remember another film as audacious as this one with its content in recent times India. It must be noted that the film received its share of flak for its substance abuse, sexual overtones and other derogatory materials which whether we agree or not have become a part of our day to day lives but are ones that we choose to ignore and shy away from. The performances are as realistic and raw as they can be and so is the execution. Arjun Reddy is a must watch for reasons noted above and a whole lot more.

Rating: 4/5 (4 out of 5 Stars)

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