A simple but beautiful ode to cinema

Story: A successful commercial film director finds a reel that changes his life forever. Will he finally make a film that touches people’s hearts?

Review: Mohan Krishna Indraganti writes an ode to cinema and love with Aa Ammayi Gurinchi Meeku Cheppali (AAGMC). And that’s about what the film has similarities with Sammohanam end because the director makes sure you tell a whole new story this time. It’s another thing that the story contains some tried and true tropes. As the movie starts shaky, leaving you scratching your head and wondering where he’s going with this story, everything makes sense by the time the credits roll.

Naveen (Sudheer Babu) scored six back-to-back commercial film hits in six years, including a hilarious title ‘Kasak’. While his films might rake in massively at the box office, he often faces the ire of critics, including his co-director Bose (Vennela Kishore) and friend, writer Venkataramana (Rahul Ramakrishna). Naveen has a chance to play a beautiful girl (Krithi Shetty) one day and he is mesmerized. He’s suddenly not interested in following the same old punch dialogues – special numbers – battles – et al. formula he used to do. Tracking down the girl in the role may end up yielding him something much more than he expected.

Many movies usually suffer from the ‘second half syndrome’ where a director gets so excited about revealing so much that the pay-off pales in comparison. Of AAGMC, it’s the other way around. Mohan takes his own time setting up Naveen’s life and showing us how Dr. Alekhya (Krithi Shetty) and her family hate movies, even though we don’t know why. There are also conversations about art – as long as it’s worth it when it brings fame and money to the artist, a misguided special song with which the director tries to make a point and fails, scenes with genuine producers and even the pitfalls in a film industry that considered oh so glamorous. However, there are a few glimpses of how all the characters he puts on are real, flawed, and most importantly, human.

But it’s the pre-interval where a twist is revealed that the movie really comes into play. Naveen goes from acting like a masala hero to a compassionate person. The tone of the movie changes with him too, kudos to Mohan for making it subtle rather than shocking. Because the music of the movie (by Vivek Sagar) also goes from songs that sound the same to something beautiful like Kotha Kotha Ga. dr. Alekhya’s hesitation and her father’s (Srikanth Iyengar) suddenly make so much sense. Mohan does a particularly good job of fleshing out her parents’ characters. It’s a strange dichotomy to be a girl’s parents, he seems to say. You’re so busy protecting her from the world, you forget to be proud. The director also deserves credit for dealing sensitively with certain social issues rather than going over-the-top.

Sudheer Babu, Krithi Shetty and Srikanth Iyengar carry the film on their able shoulders, delivering performances that mature as the layers of their characters are pulled back. Vennela Kishore is a delight, as are Rahul Ramakrishna and Srinivas Avasarala. The rest of the cast is also doing well. AAGMC is certainly not a perfect movie because there are scenes you wish were better written and conversations that dig deeper. But it ultimately does what Mohan intended: a love letter to the cinema and even a look behind why certain things work the way they do in the film industry. Check it out this weekend if you don’t mind a movie slowly unfolding.

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