Last week’s direct OTT Telugu film Krishna and his Leela and this week’s Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna feel like different sides of a coin. Both are contemporary, urban romances and while the first is about the young, indecisive love of the male protagonist, Krishna, this story is about Bhanumathi who’s pushing 30 and wondering if she would finally find true love.
First-time writer-director Srikanth Nagothi’s slice-of-life romance Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna (to stream on Aha from July 3) feels like a breath of fresh air, with characters that ring true to real life. It’s a film that understands its female protagonist so well, as though the writer could read her mind. The Telugu films that scored on this aspect in recent years were Pelli Choopulu and Chi La Sow.
Bhanumati (Salony Luthra) is 30 and single. Ideally, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Some of us may have been through that phase or know friends who are in their 30s, yet to find true love and haven’t submitted themselves to arranged marriages. A single woman at 30 doesn’t have it easy. Time and again she’s reminded that it’s already late and she has to hurry up and choose a partner, and be less picky. Srikanth writes Bhanumathi’s predicament with empathy, also bringing to fore her complexities and vulnerabilities.
Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna
- Cast: Salony Luthra, Naveen Chandra, Raja Chembolu
- Direction: Srikanth Nagothi
- Streaming on: Aha
Bhanu goes through a clumsy break-up. The guy (Raja Chembolu is good in his brief part) has found someone else who he says is more polite, understanding, and she’s just 24! Never mind that he himself is 30, Bhanu’s age. Bhanu does what independent, confident women are expected to do — she gets a makeover, parties the night away and in a moment of reckoning, admits to herself that she feels lonely.
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At work, Bhanu is a woman of steel. But there’s a void and she wants to be loved for who she is. Salony enacts Bhanu with a mix of tenacity and vulnerability and is unafraid to let go of vanity where required. Three cheers to her for taking up an atypical heroine’s role in her debut Telugu film.
Srikanth pits the very urban Bhanu against Ramakrishna (Naveen Chandra), from Tenali. At 33, he too is at the receiving end of the arranged marriage spectrum. Ramakrishna is a simple small town guy who always tries to be positive, and has no vices. It would have been more interesting if this part too had some complexities, but Naveen Chandra makes good use of the material. He’s endearing as someone who is in awe of Bhanu and trying to find his space at home and work.
Bhanu and Ramakrisha may be poles apart, but Srikanth depicts, through realistic situations, how the pressures are a tad similar. Bhanu’s flatmates, a younger live-in couple, are constant reminders of what’s lacking in her life. Visiting her parents brings up the topic of marriage, in unexpected ways. Usually a weight watcher, she has let herself go post break-up and the increase in girth, her mother implies, might come in the way of getting a good match. Ramakrishna, too, has a younger flatmate (Viva Harsha) who makes his prejudice about the 30s quite obvious.
The romance between the two is a gradual growing of fondness and to Srikanth’s credit, at no point does he make the proceedings overtly cinematic. Ramakrishna doesn’t sweep Bhanu off her feet. She first finds him ‘mediocre’ and then, an ‘interesting mediocre’.
Shravan Bharadwaj’s music and Achu Rajamani’s background score are classy and beautifully complement the romance. At just 92 minutes, Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna is a breezy watch without cinematic clichés and ushers in two talents to watch out for — Srikanth Nagothi and Salony Luthra.
Bhanumathi & Ramakrishna is currently streaming on Aha