Kshana Kshanam

RGV’s Kshana Kshanam opens with an intense robbery and chase that takes place in the dark of night. There is no dialogue in this episode, the visuals and the very dramatic score tell the story. Finally one bad guy kills another bad guy and takes the money… So far so good as my DVD doesn’t have subtitles. From this point on, I am making things up.

Satya (Sri Devi) works in an office, struggles with over sleeping, has a nosy neighbour, and seems to have her life sorted. Satya unknowingly picks up the left-luggage receipt for the robbery loot. When things go wrong for her, Sri Devi is excellent at showing her fraying nerves and building fear as well as a gritty determination. There’s a bit of crying and whining, but Satya retains some dignity (despite the wardrobe in some songs) and is a likeable girl who is way out of her comfort zone and trying desperately to get back to her old life. Sri Devi’s expressions and timing are brilliant, often very funny, and she conveys so much with her simple gestures and reactions. I like her so much as a feisty heroine.

Paresh Rawal is the villain Nayar. It was his gang that did the break and enter, and his man who has double crossed them all and taken off with the loot. Nayar is on the traitor’s trail, and will stop at nothing even if he has to kill his entire gang one by one. He is a psychopath who can sweetly ask his victim to tell the truth even as he is snapping the guy’s fingers. It’s an over the top performance (he has a high pitched giggle, a love of filmi tunes and a mad eyed stare) but Nayar is genuinely scary when it counts.

Nayar and the gang pursue Satya, and RGV really does know how to ratchet up the tension in the pursuit. A rowdy follows Satya to her apartment and is injured when she defends herself. He is finished off by an unseen colleague and Satya believes she killed him. She decides to run.

And runs into Chandu (Venkatesh). He is a thief, an occasional police impersonator, but smart and fundamentally decent within his own moral code. Chandu uses Satya to escape the police he thinks have come for him, and they go on the lam. They team up since everyone else is chasing them, although it takes some time for them to work out why. I really loved the sight of Sri Devi in the midst of the motorcycle chase demurely sitting sidesaddle behind Venky as he sped through the traffic! Venkatesh is convincing as both the charming trickster and the gutsy hero. He has a boyish quality that suits the lighter scenes and he attacks the action scenes with conviction. His mullet seems to adopt more or less volume depending on his mood.

They escape into the jungle. Chandu shows his decency by not looking up Satya’s skirt and she shows her city girl ways by freaking out at absolutely everything. Chandu looks concerned then perplexed and finally amused as Satya calls on God, bemoans her fate and worries about being killed by tigers.

He doesn’t bully or belittle her, but he can laugh at the situation. Each allows the other actor to shine, and it makes the romance seem more natural as they have low key but convincing chemistry. I also liked seeing that as the film progressed Satya used her initiative in taking the next steps in the relationship. It’s a nice element to balance the darker suspense storyline.

Satya is overcome by the beauty of the landscape and trills a song, only to be asked to sing something more ‘mass’. Naturally this leads to:

A fabulous way to maintain a covert presence, I’m sure. I like Venky’s lawn bowls hat. And I love the male backing dancers who really make it their own.

After running into Nayar in the jungle, they realise that Satya has something besides her good looks to make all these men pursue her. And I have to say, no one made any effort to be stealthy so I was not surprised Nayar found them, only at how long it took.  Chandu beats up the baddies, Inspector Yadav (Rami Reddy) and his police stumble onto the path and in the mayhem Chandu and Satya escape by stealing Nayar’s car.

Once back in the city they encounter Brahmi and do a spot of comedy shopping. Then the plan is to break into Satya’s apartment to retrieve the receipt. The break in was both suspenseful and slapstick, with cops and rowdies running up and down stairs, and Satya and Chandu narrowly evading all parties. The adversity really brings out their song and dance side, as there are several musical interludes which are mostly fun. I do have an issue with Chandu – THIS is how he dresses in his wealth fantasy song.

Sri Devi sang on the track but I don’t recommend you seek it out. It’s an aural and visual assault.

Satya wants to turn the receipt over to the police, Chandu wants to keep it, but once again Nayar’s gang are too close for comfort. Finally Chandu goes to collect the loot but nothing is that simple. The ending is impressively action packed and people get what they deserve.

Kshana Kshanam is visually compelling. The fast edits and angles in dramatic scenes created a sense of urgency and menace. There are cameras mounted in and under cars and on motorbikes which added a feeling of speed and the panic of the chase. The background score throughout is very dramatic and while it often helps set the mood, sometimes it was distracting. Think heavy percussion and strings, occasional 80s power guitar and a dash of jaunty brass. Some scenes relied on ambient sounds from the background action, others had just the score, some had a blend of both and the transitions could be abrupt. The sound was a bit off at times – one rowdy ran across a floor and sounded like 4 people tap dancing, and everyone seemed to have the same soles on their shoes. It was odd in a film that was so accomplished on a visual level and had such a well crafted story. The MM Keeravani songs are hit and miss, but generally fun to watch although the dancing is suspect at times. There is a definite sense of time inside the story, and I wondered how much of it was shot in sequence (songs aside) as it felt as though the scenes were really unfolding one after another.

I’m not a diehard RGV fan as I find when he is good he is very very good, but you know, then there’s RGV ki Aag. See this for a great cast in a well told story with a deft balance of action, humour and suspense. It certainly lived up to the title, as every second counted. 4 stars!

Heather says: I really love this film. It combines suspense and action with just enough romance and has the benefit of two very attractive leads. RGV keeps it simple and as a result the story moves along well and despite the lack of subtitles it’s compelling viewing. This is probably because the romance is left to take a back seat through most of the film, and the focus is firmly on the action. Both Sridevi and Venkatesh are equally important in these action scenes and Sridevi is no useless hand-wringing heroine but is quite capable of making her own decisions, disastrous at times though they may be.

There are some great lighting contrasts in the film which also frequently add to the atmosphere of menace. The opening scenes heighten the expectation of what is to follow as the lighting is dim and no-one’s face is totally clear. When RGV finally moves to introduce Satya, the change to bright light and the intimacy of her bedroom completely alters the mood. This introduction also serves to accentuate the difference in circumstance later on when Satya ends up sleeping rough in the jungle. It really doesn’t take long before Satya’s initial confusion and fear change to a determination to fight back and I think this is a very natural reaction for her character and also suits Sridevi very well.

Sridevi is absolutely gorgeous here and perfect in her characterisation. She is excellent as the scared girl on the run and even better as she sets out to solve the puzzle of why everyone is after her. The romance with Chandu also grows very naturally throughout the course of their adventure and there is good chemistry between Sridevi and Venkatesh. While I think Venkatesh is very good in his portrayal of the happy go lucky thief who gets pulled along for the ride, I do think he is somewhat overshadowed by Sridevi in their scenes together. However he is excellent during the fights and action sequences and looks good in the songs too, although his mullet is a little distracting at times. At least I can put this and his rather variable wardrobe down to the fact that this was filmed in the early 90’s which does explain a lot. Paresh Rawal is great as the villain and is totally over the top in his psychotic shifts from raving bad guy to being scared of heights and pushing his henchmen into danger first. Plus he has a great moustache. The only downside to this film is the lack of subtitles. I’ve been told that the dialogue is very good as well, so it’s a real shame that I haven’t been able to track down a subtitled copy, although I may have to eventually succumb to the Hindi dubbed version. Thanksto KB for the recommendation. 4 ½ stars from me.

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20 thoughts on “Kshana Kshanam

    • Hi ciummaa. I often buy from Bhavani and asked them ages ago about the EVP and Shalimar DVDs for Kshana Kshanam that they listed with subs, and in both cases there were none . I always check in the case of older films, and Bhavani have been really good about letting me know when their listing is wrong or sometimes when they have subs that aren’t listed. So far I haven’t had any luck finding a copy of Kshana Kshanam that has the subtitles it claims to have, or even an srt file! My excellent DVD guy in Hyderabad (BoomboxIndia on ebay) couldn’t find a subtitled one either and he is very reliable. But thank you so much for trying to help me! And I didn’t mean to whinge :) Temple

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  1. aah! now ladies you must watch Govinda Govinda, famous for being a flop in AP after which our man Ramu vowed to wow Bombay and off he went straight to a superhit Rangeela! again Sri and Venky, some songs are lovely and the premise is interesting…..haven’t seen it in 15 years tho’

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  2. I guess you might have already watched these knowing how prolific you are (having gone through your whole blog the past few hours :)) Just wanted to list them out before I forget.
    Okkadu, Antahpuram, Shiva, Vinayakudu, Village Lo Vinyakudu, Anaganaga Oka Roju….., Chandamama, Prayanam, Gulabi, the Angrez (which has Hyderabadi Hindi and is absolutely low budget but hilarious) and one more film, Manmathudu, Nenithe, Pelli Pustakam, Ladies Tailor, Arjun, Kushi, Tholi Prema, Sutradharulu and definitely please do watch Quick Gun Murugan.

    Really appreciate what you are doing here, knowing fully well how tough it is to find anything remotely meaningful on Telugu cinema, the happy news is you like the whole range from Narthanasala to Magadheera.

    Chaala Thanx!
    saray mari,
    unTaanu

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    • Thanks for the compliment and the HUGE list of film suggestions kk :) I have seen a few of the films you’ve listed (Okkadu is a bit of a favourite although I have issues with Bhumika and her wet dishrag acting), and I have added to the already extensive to-be-found-and-watched list, which had already grown after our chat earlier. I have a copy of Chandamama, which I bought solely on the basis of a screencap with the subtitle ‘We are tender hearted moustachioed bigwigs’, so it’s good to see an actual recommendation.
      One of the reasons that I started writing about the films is because it is so hard as a non-Telugu speaking person to find information and reviews that are useful. So it’s a small way of sharing what I’ve found, and also really just a record of what I have been watching and a justification for the huge DVD collection! Cheers, Temple

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    • Hi kk,
      Wow, a huge list of films :)
      I think there is only 2 on the list I’ve seen – the list of films to find gets ever longer!
      Thanks!
      Heather

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    • Thanks ciummaa.
      I have resorted to the Hindi dub version which at least does have subtitles :)
      It was already a great film but the dialogue is excellent and very funny too!
      Thanks for the recommendations as well. I do have a copy of Missamma but of course – no subtitles!
      Heather

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    • Hi, think you could kindly email me the kshana kshanam subtitles file to tssarma (at) outlook (dot) com? I tried the file serve links but they dont seem to work any more. And I want to show my non-telugu speaking wife this movie :)

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  3. I love this movie! Sridevi is the highlight of this movie. She was strong enough heroine for a movie to revolve primarily around her. I liked that while Venkatesh played a role with all traditional ‘hero’ elements, he is willing to let Sridevi dominate the movie.
    My teenage self loved the songs but my adult self – not so much.

    Sridevi came across natural and it is the first modern independent woman character I saw with light/funny treatment and without heavy drama! I tend to think this as a precursor to the type of independent women as Kamalinee’s character in Godavari.

    I would recommend RGV’s ‘Anaganaga oka roju’ as another of those on-the-run/comedy-of-errors but should note ahead that Urmila can’t hold candle to Sridevi. IMO ‘Govinda Govinda’ would have turned out better if RGV hasn’t gotten into his head that he is sort of Cameroon/Spielberg by that time.

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