'Ardha Shatabdham' today started streaming on Aha. The direct OTT release features non-star faces. Is it worth a watch? Here we tell you.
Krishna (Karthik Rathnam) has been in love with Pushpa (Krishna Priya) from childhood. The girl's father Ramanna (Sai Kumar), a former Maoist, is a doting dad. While Pushpa doesn't have feelings for Krishna, by a quirk of fate, a misunderstanding develops.
A heavy drama involving Naveen Chandra (a sub-inspector) and a few other characters with a stake in the village's so-called honour unfolds. Can Krishna ever win his love?
Karthik Rathnam has repeatedly played the villager's role since 'C/O Kancharapalem'. In the film under review, he essays a full-fledged role, especially in the first half. He has whole songs dedicated to his familiar feelings. The actor manages to make some impact. Krishna Priya should have been a fitting pair.
Sai Kumar, for all the heavy-duty lines that he speaks, is somewhat jaded. Naveen Chandra, who plays a mercurial cop with a heart, fits the bill. Ajay and Subhalekha Sudhakar, who are engaged in a serious conversation, don't raise the bar. Raja Ravindra's character gets a raw deal. Aamani and Pavithra Lokesh play typical and over-sentimental mothers. Suhas shines in a cameo.
Nawfal Raja AIS's songs flow with the mood of the film. But the BGM fails to create a sombre mood in the second half. It had to be really earnest for a film like this. Ashker, Venkat R Shakamuri, and EJ Venu's cinematography is in keeping with the overall modest technical appeal of the movie.
Anji's action choreography should have given jump scares or at least a couple of edge-of-the-scene moments.
Half of the movie unfolds over the span of a day in a village ravaged by irreconcilable caste-based differences. This very nature of the story should have prompted the use of a number of inventive screenplay devices. Writer-director Rawindra Pulle, instead, stages the riots in the village in a very lazy manner.
After a point, the calamitous events in the village don't bother the audience. It's because the film doesn't weave an emotional core in the first half. It becomes obsessed with Krishna's romantic feelings for Pushpa, who is framed in a series of cliched scenes and a raft of songs.
The attempts to create humour between the male lead and his friends is a dampener. The drama around a rose flower that Krishna dreams of gifting to Pushpa works as an idea. In terms of execution, however, one feels it should have been way too earnest and not sudden.
A small incident, which is at best an irritant, leads to a major law and order calamity. Amidst all this, Naveen Chandra's SI character, Ajay's SP character and Subhaleka Sudhakar's politician character are mere bystanders for the most part.
The climax seems to have been staged with the intention of making BR Ambedkar's statue sob. The writer of the Constitution would indeed be grieving today at the sight of caste-based killings in rural India. But the film spoon-feeds everything and is too straightforward in conveying its message against casteism. The cinema audience in Ambedkar would have rather preferred subtle films such as 'Karnan' (Tamil) to the superficial 'Ardha Shatabdham'.
If you are in a mood to watch a half-jovial, half-serious village-based love-action drama that is given to a number of flaws, give this one a try. At less than two hours, it's not that huge waste of your time.