'Mangalavaaram', produced by Mudhra Media Works and A Creative Works, hits the screens this Friday. Its pre-release shows were held on Thursday night in many towns and cities of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad, too, witnessed a few shows. In this section, we analyze the film's merits and demerits.
The story is set in a Konaseema village where a series of dual murders subject the common man to extreme fear. SI Maya (Nandita Swetha) is in the town to investigate the murders, while the Zamindar (Chaitanya Krishna) prevents her from getting post-mortems done. Just as the needle of suspicion points in all directions, Shailu (Payal Rajput) is introduced as a woman with a dark past. Is she the one who is behind the mysterious killings? What is her motive? Answers to these questions are found in the second half.
After a rare start with 'RX 100', Payal Rajput's career lost the sheen in her career. With the film under review, which marks her reunion with Ajay Bhupathi (her 'RX 100' director), it seems the spring is back in her stride. As a damsel in distress with a syndrome, the actress shows promise although the role should have ideally been essayed by a newcomer with a naive charm.
On the flip side, the rest of the artists are just so-so. Nandita Swetha's characterization is weak and her acting suffers as a result. Ajay Ghosh almost becomes the lead actor for the first 40 minutes, but his humour is dated. Laxman Meesala as a vision-impaired sidekick, Chaitanya Krishna and Sritej are average. Ravindra Vijay, as a good-natured doctor, has a larger-than-expected part in the larger scheme of things.
Music director Ajaneesh B Loknath bagged this film a week after his breakout film 'Kantara' was released in 2022. His BGM does its job effectively, especially in the portions where a sense of mystery has to be conveyed to the viewer. Dasaradhi Sivendra's cinematography has energy. The colour grading and sound design (by MR Rajakrishnan) are fabulous. The night shots and the multiple chases are visually pleasing without seeming unrealistically polished.
1. The storyline.
2. The final 30 minutes are gripping. They tie the loose ends with elan.
3. The production values. (Even if you don't take the claim that the budget is Rs 20 Cr at face value, this one comes with quality).
4. A couple of twists.
5. Excellent background score.
1. Boring stretches involving unidimensional villagers.
2. The itch to show Payal's Shailu as a damsel in distress who doesn't know how to smile.
3. Wrong casting (read Ajmal Amir and Nandita Swetha).
4. Lengthy backstory of the female protagonist.
'Mangalavaaram' is an imperfect whodunit. That said, its twists in the second half make you want to sit. Although some episodes make you want to sigh, the final stretches engage you.
Rating: 2.5 / 5