One of my followers suggested I try to catch Sahasam Swasaga Sagipo (Live Adventurously) with Naga Chaitanya in theaters this week, after he read my Premam review. I’m so thankful T.J. told me about it before it was gone! It’s the start of the hectic holiday season here, and I did not even realize Naga had a new film in theaters. I caught the ONE showtime it played today, and it was pretty darn good. Guarav Menon filmed it concurrently in Tamil with another lead actor, but the same lead actress.
I LOVE the film allusions right in the dialogue itself. First there’s a title card that says “Inspired by a scene in The Godfather“. It has been a loooooong time since I saw The Godfather, so I had to look it up when I got home. It was the hospital scene. That is key to the action second half.
Another interesting thing is that the hero’s name is never revealed until the very end of the film, and it has a dramatic punch when it is revealed — And a touch of humor to it. The heroine doesn’t even know his name until almost the end. She jokingly puts his number in her phone under “Unknown”.
The first half is swoony innocent romance and the second half action thriller. Sort of like how Kali
had two very different moods to the two halves of the film, but here the romance is almost Premam
level innocent and sweet.
There’s a prologue where we see a man and woman attacked in their home, and then we see our hero beat up 6 guys who had been harassing his sister. “Stalking like that is so 80’s!”
He sees them approach backlit and there’s overlay voiceover that had me chuckling.
“Four men suddenly appeared approaching me like in a Mani Ratnam film so I knew I was in trouble.” LOL! He dispatches them easily and comments on how it was his first taste of violence.
Then the friend of his sister, Leela, moves into their family house for a few weeks, and they shyly say not much more than “Hi” to each other for awhile, and then gradually, sweetly become friends. Naga finished with school and wants to travel before settling down, and plots to hit the road on his motorcycle with a friend “His girlfriend probably won’t let him go.”
Leela unexpectedly shows up when he’s leaving and asks to go with him. I LOVED this. That she asks to just be one of the guys and share the adventure, not be his girlfriend/lover right away. They have a wonderful trip to Kanyakumari, the southern most tip of Tamil Nadu to see the sunrise. It was spectacular scenery of a place I’d never seen before.
There is a really exceptional “I’m a good decent boy” moment in the romance. For money’s sake, they book a hotel room in Kanyakumari with two twin beds. When it’s her turn to shower, he offers to leave the hotel room so she’ll be more comfortable.
THEN the whole movie turns on a dime into a thriller. They should part, as she is due home in Maharashtra, and he offers to take her all the way home. Their trip has been a secret from everyone. Neither family knows they are together.
There’s a road accident, and then The Godfather moment comes. It was her parents that were attacked in the beginning, and our hero rises to the occasion to protect Leela and her family. The cops are corrupt, and there’s one particular bad cop that is their nemesis. The action is pretty gripping and I didn’t know what was going to happen from one scene to the next. Not quite the unbearable tension of Kali, but pretty darn good.
The final resolution ending is SO satisfying as only South Indian films can be. They’re so violent, but there’s just a YEAH!! moment when the villain is vanquished and the hero is triumphant.
The lead actress, Manjima Mohan, was okay, but I am continually impressed by our boy Akkineni Naga Chaitanya. Innocent romance he excels at, and he was very, very convincing as an everyman who rises to the occasion in the action sequences. He was very good in the fight scenes. I think the cinematographer was non-Indian, maybe from Hollywood because it was more of a Hollywood close camera work kind of style in the fist fights.
The music is A R Rahman which is always good, but it didn’t blow me away like Mental Manadhil from O K Kanmani. I did really like this haunting love song which in the film is intercut with the road accident, which was a really interesting editing choice. This slow passionate song –
So, T.J. thank YOU for giving me another reason to be thankful this week of American Thanksgiving!
On a shallow note, I was also thankful that Menon gave us a few Naga shirtless scenes (he’s been working out!) and this particular shot. 😉