Middle Class Melodies - A sweet little gem!
Just think of it. Why would someone name his film as Middle Class Melodies. Amongst the many aspects that debutant Vinod Anantoju's film explores, the challenges faced by the middle class occupies the centre. But this is one of those films that takes a second or two to capture the beauty of everydayness. An important plot development might be happening on screen but the camera wouldn't shy away from lingering a moment on a lady washing vessels or another one colouring her hair or a man using all his might to push out the last iota of toothpaste from the almost empty tube. Now back to what I asked first. Isn't Middle Class Melodies then a delightful and apt title. It clearly tells us the kind of film this is and the kind of filmmaker that Vinod Anantoju is. He isn't looking to create melodies but is more interested in capturing the melodies that are often overlooked!
Set in and around Guntur, the film does have a love story at it's core. But this isn't a romance. Vinod Anantoju paints an array of simple yet enchanting characters and gives a proper arc to each and everyone. There isn't a character that fails to register. Even a nameless person who appears for a minute and is shown dumping garbage on an empty ground has you notice him. As exaggerated or silly as this may sound, you might have to watch the film to relate to what I am saying.
Raghava (Anand Devarakonda) wants to start his own hotel at the heart of Guntur. His parents are reluctant. His girlfriend Sandhya (Varsha Bollamma) is supportive and keeps trying to help him in ways she can. Middle Class Melodies is so many things put together but it is also about Raghava coming of age. It is about Raghava realizing that there isn't an end to challenges and he needs to enjoy the journey and the process. In a way, almost each character in the film learns something by the end of it. Raghava's friend Gopal learns about the futility of horoscope (his equation with Gauthami, despite the limited screentime, gets as much importance as that of the lead pair). Sandhya learns or rather musters up courage to stand up for herself. You might not associate what happens on screen with respect to her character as black comedy. We tend to think of black comedy as humour arising out of something related to serious crimes or murders or a dark subject. This is because the term had probably originated from cinema of the west. But if parents willing to push their daughter into a marriage by snatching away her likes and aspirations (add to this the menace called dowry) isn't a dark subject, then what is. And when Sandhya tells Raghava that it is not only her father who doesn't ask her what she wants and reminds him of the incident when he had kissed her without her consent, you admire the sensibilities of Vinod. This unassuming scene gets home the point about consent to those who are willing to listen!
There is some reason that you can decipher from almost everything in the film. I wouldn't call Raghava narcissistic but he is to an extent self centred and a little proud about his abilities. So you can relate to him naming his hotel as 'Raghava' Tiffin Centre. This is why I believe that a lot of thought has gone into the tiniest of details. Take for instance that entire land registation scene that is an absolute hoot. And see how it ends. Raghava keeps declining the call of Sandhya who has something extremely important to tell. The name on the mobile screen displays as Pichhidi (Mental) as that is how Raghava has saved Sandhya's number. Maybe this is just out of affection for his girlfriend and we maybe reading too much into it. But the irony is hard to miss, as Raghava is the one who ends up being the fool at the end of this scene! This is such a brilliantly written film.
There is not a second of preachiness in this delightful comedy drama but there is a lot out there for us to take as well. There is this milkman character in the film who symbolises hope, gratitude and empathy. It is the sketching of these small characters that sets this film apart. The cinematography brings in that sort of a vibe which makes us feel a part of Guntur or atleast that feel of a bystander. So are the earthy songs. Goparaju Ramana as Raghava's caring yet intimidating father steals the show while Varsha Bollamma is effortlessly good. Just pointing out a couple but the performances from almost everyone is almost always good.
Raghava's mother in the film tells him that only if he does things out of love would he be happy and the results would show. The team behind Middle Class Melodies has definitely put in a lot of love behind this work and it shows. This is a delightful film and a sweet little gem!