Anukokunda Oka Roju

Sahasra  is a B.Comm student, but her passion is singing. She is a smart, confident girl who is an unwanted addition to her step-mother’s household and she tries to keep her head down.  Her friends are an unexceptional bunch of students and singers, and she is an ordinary girl. So why are people trying to kill her?

Anukokunda Oka Roju translates as Suddenly One Day and the answer lies in a missing day in Sahasra’s life. The action took some time to get going, but I always felt there was some underlying sense I just hadn’t uncovered yet. The direction by Chandrasekhar Yeleti is pacy but allows time for the story to unfold in a way that felt realistic enough and the city setting gives a slightly chaotic edge to the action. It didn’t feel like a join the dots story and there were things that seemed irrelevant initially but took on more significance later. The strength of the characterisations helped keep the suspense set to high despite some overly contrived incidents. Once the motivation behind the attacks on Sahasra was revealed I struggled to completely believe in it, but I was so interested in the characters that I eventually found the ending quite satisfying.

Charmme delivers a great performance as a girl in trouble and out of her depth. Sahasra is a talented singer in a studio chorus with ambitions of singing solos for the great film composers. Charmme shows the spark of confidence and joy that Sahasra feels when she is involved in her music, and how that evaporates when she returns home to a less hospitable environment. Her speech and expressions become younger, almost childlike as she seeks to placate her step-mother, but then regains her robust cheekiness when on the phone to her mother. It makes Sahasra’s fear and also her resilience seem real as we see her strength in everyday situations, not just in the struggle to survive.

This is my favourite of Charmme’s performances, and if you want to see a modern heroine carry a film other than a rom-com, this is a great place to start. And she sings a song sort of dedicated to Chiranjeevi so clearly she has excellent taste in film heroes!

Rajesh (Shashank) is a student who runs an unofficial taxi service on the side. He spots Sahasra and chases her demanding money for a taxi fare she doesn’t remember. She denies everything but they keep crossing paths. He rescues Sahasra from a gang of big burly men and in turn becomes a target of sorts. Shashank does an OK job, but as in Sye he doesn’t do any more than just OK. He is suited to this role, and the fight scenes are realistically scuffly and non-heroic, but despite being in a couple of highly dramatic sequences he made little impression.

SI Suresh Reddy (Jagapathi Babu) is an odd character. A corrupt and eccentric juice-swilling policeman, he is in the vicinity when Sahasra is attacked. His investigation is motivated by both judicial and personal concerns – unbeknownst to Sahasra, her father was in talks to marry the pair. He is socially awkward and falls for her like a ton of bricks.

Jagapathi Babu is brilliant at showing glimpses of the awkward guy with a crush as well as the confident bully. His eccentricities seem to stem more from boredom in his career and his life, and when he means business, he is convincing. He takes on the investigation and at first is totally unwelcome in Sahasra’s life and her friends resist him. But he gets results and as he unravels the events, he realises that other mysterious deaths may be related and Sahasra is in more trouble than she knows. His character builds over the course of the film, and I found myself first dismissing him as a corrupt nutter, but then anxiously looking for his face in the crowd as things looked grim for Sahasra.

Sahasra’s friend Shwetha (Pooja Bharti) took her to a party and Sahasra’s drink was spiked. This is the reason for the lost time, and lost memories. The drugs were let go by Suresh Reddy when he took a bribe from the dealer so his involvement takes on another dimension. The dialogue (by Ganga Raju Gunnam) was excellent, often amusing and very illuminating in terms of character insights. The girls are such different characters and I liked that they were shown as disapproving but not bitchy. There are a couple of dialogue exchanges where the girls discuss sex and it is refreshing to see friends who can tell each other they think the other is an idiot but without rancour.

The safe sex message is loud and clear and despite being linked to an unwanted pregnancy, I didn’t feel that the girl was being demonised, and she certainly wasn’t made to suffer or repent. In fact, the good girl was the one to walk out of the hospital and nearly be killed. It was an interesting detour and suited the low key modern urban setting and the cast of 20-somethings. Sahasra is a typically good girl heroine, but her friends are diverse (although very much in the background) and that makes her more relatable and real.

It was this level of detail in the characterisations that made the film so engaging for me. These people had lives I could identify with to an extent, and their motivations were believable. Sahasra’s home life was complicated by her father’s remarriage, but her step mother wasn’t a crazy evil stereotype, just a bit of a bitch. Shwetha was partially responsible for her friend’s predicament because she didn’t speak up at first, but she was still a good friend when Sahasra needed support. Rajesh had debts and aspirations, but didn’t let his own plans blind him to a person in need. Suresh could have used his authority to pressure Sahasra but he backed off and when she came to him, he helped and did it in as sensitive a manner as he could. There is a scene at the end where Suresh just says what he needs to say to the guy who he thinks might get his girl and it’s touching but realistic.

There is a comedy sideplot, but mercifully it is carried mostly by the very likeable Harsha Vardhan as a hapless school teacher and neighbour, and to an extent by Rajesh in his taxi. The comedic incidents do all in some way feed back into the main story, and involve relevant characters. Harsha Vardhan wins my special gold star for most excellent insults delivered in delightfully plummy English.

And there was a fight in a music shop which I enjoyed a lot as it was funny and still menacing – and Charmme acquitted herself pretty well before her rescuer turned up.

The M.M.Keeravani soundtrack is effective and all the songs have their place either illustrating characters or incidents, so there were no breaks in the dramatic tension just because people burst into song. The cinematography adds to the mood, using changing angles and distances to show the pursuit, but balancing that with character focussed shots that reveal people’s inner thoughts and hopes.

It’s a really enjoyable thriller and I highly recommend it. I have to make a minor deduction for an over the top although rarely seen bad guy, and his motivation. But the conclusion for the three main characters is satisfying and a little less predictable than it might have been. 4 stars!

14 thoughts on “Anukokunda Oka Roju

    • Hi Liz – Yeah I really liked him in this. I do think that SI films tend to have a bit more going on for the uncle types, even if it is usually more comedic and less action oriented. But at least some guys seem to play something close to their actual age. What I loved about the music shop fight was that it was still a fight and there were severe consequences for Sahasra and Rajesh if they hadn’t made a getaway. Cheers, Temple

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  1. Good review of the movie. I liked this movie until the ‘twist’. It wasn’t very believable or realistic. But as you mention, by that time it didn’t matter because of the three main characters.

    I feel that Jagapathi Babu often doesn’t get the credit or roles he deserves, but this character was good for him even if he loses the girl.

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    • Thanks Violet :) I haven’t seem Jagapathi Babu in many films but I think he is a good actor and has an offbeat appeal that works for this role. I liked the closing scenes with all of them sitting around talking about the events and I thought that maybe he had found some friends even if he didn’t end up with a wife. Cheers, Temple

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    • I think you would probably like it Suja. I had a similar issue that you describe with Ishqiya – I loved the characters and performances and think the actors were brilliant, but the story collapsed in on itself and it ended up being a mess that I didn’t believe in. This film managed to avoid that disappointment despite a twist that I just couldn’t quite buy. I was gripped until the end and really happy with the resolution and how people were left at the end of all the drama. Cheers :) Temple

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  2. i like this film. done very realistically….went to the director to ask for work as an assistant, he said he took only men! finally coaxed him but when he called back to ask me for his next I was on my way back to US :(
    did you get to see his Prayanam? subtle telugu humour

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    • Hi kk :) I haven’t seen Prayanam and I do tend to avoid anything labelled as a comedy. I just don’t get the wordplay, pop references and context that make a lot of the humour work. But I will add it to the list as I think our taste in films overlaps to an extent so maybe this is the one to try! I’m a bit taken aback by the director saying he only took men on his crew. That’s an odd thing to say, especially on the heels of a film with such a strong female at the centre. People are weird, aren’t they? Cheers, Temple

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      • The director might only work with male assistants as a way to avoid any potential imputations of scandal or blackmail along those lines. Plus, it can make the logistics difficult some times if there is a female crew member, as Indian protocol demands that a female always be accompanied by a “chaperone”, no matter her age or marital status. See, for example, how Aishwarya was accompanied by her mother to this year’s Cannes, since Abhishek wasn’t there. (I was told this bit about the chaperone by the director of a small theater troupe, btw, to explain the complications of having a female character in the plays they perform on tour. )

        Anyway, he did contact kk later to give her a chance, so it’s not as if he was irredemably opposed to the idea. :)

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  3. Such reviews are a relief; bereft of rancour and baggage of pre-conceived notions. Thanks Temple. A couple of comments pointed out the implausibility of the godman character. Ironically all the characters you loved were imaginary. The only character taken from del life was that of the weird godman. We even shot a video of him. He is mostly as depicted except for one major difference, he goes around nude. And his followers include high-ranking police officials! (i’m the producer-writer of the film)

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    • Thank you so much! I’ve recommended your film to a few friends and so far, all responses have been positive. I did discuss the godman with a Hyderabadi friend a while ago and he also said that the character seemed quite true to life to him and he had no trouble believing in the incidents that lead up to the film climax. So I guess it is all about the context and references we draw on when watching a film or reading a book. A very big thank you to whoever decided to augment his character with trousers – much appreciated :) If you don’t mind me being nosey, what are you working on at present? Cheers, Temple

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  4. This was remade in hindi as “Sunday” with Ajay Devgan and Ayesha Takia – needless to say the film failed in hindi coz it could not capture the basic essence of the telugu version. The hindi version had a beautiful song shot on the lead pair in the historical sites in Delhi which was its only redeeming feature. The telugu version was indeed interesting and kept one engaged. It is good to read a comment from the producer /director of the film.

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    • I had no interest in seeing the Hindi version, and really glad I didn’t now I’ve read a plot synopsis! It seems like they changed almost everything that I found so appealing. I quite like Arshad Warsi and Irfan Khan but Ajay Devgan leaves me cold,so the casting wasn’t a drawcard either.
      It’s been really nice hearing from various people in the industry who stumble across this blog :) Cheers, Temple

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