'Anukoni Prayanam' hit the cinemas today (October 28). It is produced by Dr. Jagan Mohan DY.
Two middle-aged men (played by Rajendra Prasad and Narasimha Raju) are close buddies working as labourers on a construction site in Odisha. When the Covid-19 pandemic strikes and Janata Curfew is announced, they plan to head to their native places in Andhra Pradesh. The untimely demise of Narasimha Raju's character leaves Rajendra Prasad's character shocked. He decides to ferry the dead body to the departed soul's hometown against all odds. In the process, he meets a range of characters - good, grey, and bad.
This is yet another movie where Rajendra Prasad rests on the laurels of his past stardom. He is convinced that he is a 'Nata Kireeti' already and doesn't go beyond stock expressions. He ends up impressing none, to be frank. Narasimha Raju's outdated mien strips the film of any drama.
Prema, the star heroine of the 1990s, is seen in an extended cameo. Tulasi is too melodramatic for the tastes of today's audiences, while Ravi Babu plays a contrived cop character. Subhaleka Sudhakar is seen as an Ayurveda doctor who is ever-ready to break into tears, but thankfully his is a cameo.
Prabhas Srinu is seen as a thief, while 'Rangasthalam' Mahesh plays another half-baked cameo. Jogi Brothers are seen as semi-philosophical characters who have no direct participation in the story. Dhanraj, Gemini Suresh, and Thagubothu Ramesh get ineffective roles.
Mallikarjun Naragani's cinematography is basic. The camera angles don't suit the poignant mood of the film. S Siva Dinavahi's tunes, although not novel, are the only saving grace. The 'ragas' make the most of the occasionally pensive mood of the story.
Rajendra Prasad, whose character doesn't believe in the value of human relations, fronts this human drama wherein the death of a dear colleague leaves him to grapple with a bunch of unpredictable situations over a span of three days. Since there is a complete lockdown, there is no vehicle to ferry the dead body of Narasimha Raju's character.
The veteran actor Rajendra Prasad plays a bachelor who lacks emotions and is also insensitive at times. His accidental tryst with some good souls, each of whom is a stranger, is expected to change how he views the world. The premise is decent enough, but the screenplay is shoddy. There is not a single scene that tugs at your heartstrings.
Director Venkatesh Pediredla and the story-writer (the film's producer himself) are eager to stuff tragedies. When two construction labourers die one after another, it feels forced. After these deaths, the audience start fearing a death every time a character talks with a dear one with great affection.
If someone is kind-natured, he or she is sure to have been miserable in life. Prema, for example, has gone through a lot of agony. Subhalekha Sudhakar, for example, has tasted a personal tragedy. 'Anukoni Prayanam' thinks that people are kind only when they have been through a lot of suffering (Personal info: This reviewer hasn't become a kinder person after watching this insufferable movie).
If the attempt at pathos is horrible, the attempt at madcap humour is terrible. The graveyard scene involving Rajendra Prasad and Tagubothu Ramesh is a case in point.
The film needed the wistful quality of an 'Aa Naluguru' while being cheery in a sensible way. You don't feel for any character, dead or alive, because the dialogues (shockingly, they have been written by Paruchuri Brothers) don't hit home.
'Anukoni Prayanam' is a difficult film to sit through.