'Aakashavaani' is currently streaming on SonyLIV. Here is our review of the latest OTT release.
The story is set in a bygone era in an Agency area. There is a small village where a tribal community has been exploited by a feudal lord named Dora (Vinay Varma). When they come across a radio, they feel that it's God himself who has come over to guide them. Enter Chandram Master (Samuthirakani), a government school teacher who is on election duty in the hamlet. Dora's days could now be numbered.
The film essentially belongs to the unfamiliar faces, many of whom come from the theatre background. The villagers, who number about 20 or so prominently, put in a neat performance. They look believable and we sympathize with their suffering. The child artist who discovers the radio is superb, so also Mime Madhu, who plays a helpless tribal.
Samuthirakani, who was recently seen as a spectacular performer in 'Thalaivi', is a misfit. Vinay Varma comes across as another old-fashioned Zamindar from old-school movies. Teja Kakumanu as Sambadu and Prashant as Gidda are good, though.
The film needed the right Production Design and the Mohan-Sandeep duo delivers goods. The hamlet where the film is set up looks realistic. VFX Supervision is by Phani Vihari, who doesn't disappoint. Suresh Ragutu's cinematography deserves praise. Kaala Bhaivara's BGM shows conviction.
Writer-director Ashwin Gangaraju has teamed up with 'Colour Photo' director Sandeep Raj for the screenplay of 'Aakashavaani', which at times feels not creatively wow enough. The story is about the deliverance that an oppressed tribal community gets when they get saved by a series of accidents (or, they may not be accidents, after all). Given this beat, the story needed to be more fantastical.
The premise is exciting but what ensues from the lovely premise is not engrossing enough. The film overstates its case of the ignorance of the tribal community about God and the life outside their constricted hamlet. The conversations between the key characters are found wanting, despite the fact that Sai Madhav Burra (of 'RRR' and 'Sye Raa' fame) is the one who has penned the lines.
Samuthirakani's character is introduced too late in the story. This is not to say that there should have been more of him. Since his character is not fleshed out properly, we feel that an effective scene involving him in the first half would have gone a long way. The middle portions should have been crisp.
The story is so eventless that revealing anything more about its content would kill the suspense. That said, the spirit of 'Aakashavaani' is commendable. It presents some interesting ideas, although the story-telling is not out of the ordinary. It is a fit case for being a web film rather than a theatrical feature film. It's good that the film has bypassed theatres.
'Aakashavaani' is currently streaming on SonyLIV. It comes with a riveting premise, but it works only partially as a full-fledged story.