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'Mangalavaaaram' Review: Fresh Idea With Technical Strength

'Mangalavaaaram' Review: Fresh Idea With Technical Strength

Movie: Mangalavaaram
Rating: 2.75/5
Mudhra Media Works & A Creative Works
Cast: Payal Rajput, Nanditha Swetha, Divya Pillai, Priyadarshi, Ajmal Amir, Ravindra Vijay, Krishna Chaitanya, Ajay Gosh, Shravan Reddy, Srithej and others
Dialogue Writers: Tajuddin Syed, Kalyan Raghav
Music: B Ajaneesh Loknath
DOP: Sivendra Dasaradhi
Editor: Madhav Kumar Gullapalli
Production Designer: Raghu Kulakarni
Produced by: Swathi Reddy Gunupati, Suresh Varma M, Ajay Bhupathi Story, screenplay and Direction: Ajay Bhupathi
Release Date: Nov 17, 2023

Ajay Bhupathi's collaboration with "RX 100" actress Payal Rajput, as well as the creation of an intriguing trailer and aggressive promotions, made "Mangalavaaram" stand out.

Let's see if Ajay Bhupathi and Payal Rajput have replicated the 'shocking value' of their first film with this.

The story takes place in a village in Andhra Pradesh in the 1990s. The villagers are shocked to see graffiti on the wall stating that a man and another woman from the village had an illicit affair and that everyone in the village should forgive them. The villagers soon learn that the aforementioned woman and man have been discovered dead in the fields.

In her investigation, a police officer (Nandita Swetha) concludes that it is a homicide case.

These deaths occurred on a Tuesday. The following Tuesday, similar graffiti appears, and another couple dies. While the villagers prepare for the next Tuesday, a doctor in their village claims to have seen the devil of the deceased girl Shailu (Payal Rajput).

Who exactly is Shailu? What is her connection to these murders?

Artistes’ Performances:
Payal Rajput should be commended for taking on this role. Her character is not only difficult to portray, but it is also hard for many heroines to agree to play such a role. She has done justice to it.

Nandita Swetha does her role well as a cop. Krishna Chaitanya, who plays the village landlord, and Divya Pillai, who plays his wife, both have prominent roles and play them well. Ajmal Amir makes a brief cameo.

Priyadarshi takes on a role that is completely new to him. Ravindra Vijay is quite convincing as a good-hearted doctor.

Ajay Ghosh provides some comic relief.

Technical Excellence:
'Kantara' fame B Ajaneesh Loknath's excellent background score elevates the film. In fact, his background music is more arresting than many scenes in many places. He is the film's main asset.

The cinematography and editing are also excellent. Dialogues are alright. Production design is adequate.

Riveting background score
Twist and turns
‘Shocking’ disorder for heroine

Over dramatic
Too many genre elements

"Mangalavaaram," like Ajay Bhupathi's first film "RX 100," features a female protagonist who is not your typical Indian heroine. In this film, Ajay Bhupathi took it a step further by making his heroine suffer from a disorder, which no other Indian actress had dared to do so before. This is unique. 

The director also throws in two more surprises: a previously unpublicised actor and the negative side of an unexpected character. The second half of the film is jam-packed with all these surprises.

Ajay Bhupathi has not only kept the first half of the film short, but he has also avoided introducing the film's heroine Payal Rajput entirely. She arrives right on time for the intermission. He used the first hour to set the stage for the main story. 

The main drama happens in the last 30 or 40 minutes. 

"Mangalavaaram" appears to be both a daring attempt and an unconvincing effort because, while some twists and turns are quite good, many others appear forced.

First and foremost, the film depicts Payal Rajput as a victim of a disorder. However, before revealing information about her disorder, Payal is presented in such a way that she lacks character. When her disorder is revealed, the audience feels sympathy for her. 

To add more twists to the story, the director introduces another unexpected actor, whose character is really interesting and draws us in. But in the final moments, he pulls up another twist about a character, the main villain, which is interesting but unconvicing. 

What works in the film is Ajay Bhupathi’s attempt in creating a mood about the village’s dark secrets. But to keep our interest until the last forty minutes of the story, he attempts to present the film partly as a horror thriller, partly as an emotional drama, and also as a revenge drama. Thus, it becomes overstuffed.

'Kantara' music director Ajaneesh emerges as the film's main strength and Ajay Bhupathi deserves praise for restraint in displaying the "key" scenes involving Payal's character.

Overall, “Mangalavaaram” is neither a supernatural thriller nor a titillating love story like “RX100” but it has certain elements that are completely different from the regular movies. Terrific background score, some twists and turns have worked in its favour but the strength of the film lies entirely in the last 30 minutes.

Bottom line: Out of the box

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