‘Pelli Choopulu’: Finally a Telugu film that is smart, sensible and responsible

Pelli Choopulu

I never thought I would feel this way about a Telugu film, ever.

Here’s a Telugu film that’s not about some larger-than-life hero with impossible powers bashing up a hundred guys. Here’s a Telugu film that’s not about a heroine who seduces the hero by exposing her midriff. Here’s a Telugu film that’s not about a hero who doesn’t stalk the heroine and whose primary reason for falling in love with her is her sexy, well-shaped hip. Here’s a Telugu film that doesn’t have any songs where the both of them run around trees and do ridiculous dance moves (in which the hero will somehow manage to touch her midriff).

Let me tell you something. I’ve had a bad, bad opinion about Telugu cinema for the longest time. Why? All the reasons I’ve mentioned in the first paragraph. That is until I came across Pelli Choopulu. I never thought I would fall in love with a Telugu this much, I never thought I would finish a Telugu film without taking a break and I never thought I would watch a Telugu film that I wanted to hug so much. Pelli Choopulu is a love story. But given the fact that Telugu cinema has a terrible track record, I expected this to be another unrealistic, run-of-the-mill love story.

I was wrong and how! Fresh and brilliantly innovative, Pelli Choopulu doesn’t treat its audiences like idiots. It is smart, sensible and above all responsible. It gives a damn good reason for the boy and girl to fall in love with each other. It puts them through a test – a training, rather – which will eventually inform them both (and the audience) if one really deserves the other. The film’s title, meaning ‘Matchmaking’, begins appropriately at a matchmaking meet which is followed by a funny situation which is in turn followed by a small pre-intermission twist that makes things really interesting.

I didn’t expect a story like this. I didn’t expect a romance film to come loaded with so many messages.  I mean, this is a country where most marriages are treated like business deals with the potential brides-to-be and grooms-to-be seen as commodities – their respective parents trying to get rid of them as soon as possible. This film teaches you to stop treating yourself like shit just because your parents constantly made you feel that you are. It teaches you to become more responsible for your own life. It teaches you to make your own decisions. It teaches you to value yourself and do things that make you happy instead of others.

This film is so relatable because 90% of the guys and girls in India have gone through the exact same experiences that these characters have at one point or the other. Stripped of their self-worth and confidence (by their parents mostly), they wander around aimlessly not knowing how to proceed with the rest of their lives. And then there are those that are immensely talented but never got the recognition they truly deserved. This film speaks to each and every one of them. I saw so much of me in the protagonist Prashanth, played by Vijay Deverakonda. And also this is the first time I’m seeing a Telugu heroine who is not a damsel-in-distress (and of course, doesn’t expose a lot).

This heroine, Chitra, is played by Ritu Varma as this independent and strong-minded woman who doesn’t really need a man to complete her life. She has made her share of mistakes in the past and she is the sort of woman who, if she ever decides to get married one day, the man she chooses to be her life partner has to be really worthy and willing to rise up to her standards. And Varma conveys all these with her fierce eyes and strong mannerisms. I applaud the director Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam for making this film and if I ever come face-to-face with him, I’ll make sure that I’ll either shake his hands or give him a big hug (if he allows it).

Thank you so much, Tharun. You’ve changed my perspective on Telugu cinema with this one film. I was delighted to learn that you based it on real-life characters and events. See, a film can be this good only when there is something personal involved. I’m sure I’ll be watching it 100 more times. Make more films like this, please.

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