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Review Telugu

Cinema Bandi review: Slice-of-life drama about the agony and ecstasy of making movies

Release Date: 14 May 2021 / 01hr 38min


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Haricharan Pudipeddi

Deeply rooted in realism and brimming with an energy rarely witnessed in mainstream cinema, this sweet film has much to offer.

Cinema Bandi, produced by the celebrated duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK and directed by Praveen Kandregula, is built on a simple premise — anybody can be a filmmaker... at heart. A heartfelt tribute to independent cinema, the Telugu film celebrates the spirit of making movies and how the attempt can make or break lives.

The story centres on Veera (Vikas Vashisht), an autorickshaw driver who earns just enough to make ends meet. When he gets his hands on a high-end camera that is accidentally left behind in his vehicle, he dreams of shooting a movie with it in his village. He receives encouragement from a television report that claims that several low-budget films with no stars have been making a killing at the box office.

Convinced that making a movie can change their lives altogether, Veera motivates a few fellow villagers to join him in his mission. What begins as an amateur project transforms into an endeavour filled with hope, tears and drama.

Cinema Bandi is rooted in reality and brims with the kind of energy one rarely witnesses in mainstream cinema. Though mostly made to seem like a comedy, the film has plenty of moments that tug at your heartstrings and leave you teary-eyed. It has better female characters than most mainstream movies. When Veera decides to make a movie, his wife quietly takes up additional work to support the household financially. The 'heroine', who sells vegetables for a living, doesn’t like to play a damsel in distress. These are women who are not soft-spoken, and despite being raised in a village, they have a strong presence.

The film offers deep insight into the urban-rural divide and has scenes that beautifully highlight the contrast. For instance, Veera and his crew find some footage on the camera shot by its original owner. There is a shot of a rain dance and they gobsmacked at how so much precious water is wasted on such a frivolous activity. A few scenes later, we find Veera and his crew leave everything aside whenever it rains to shoot scenes that require water. We also get a scene where a boy from the village helps the crew with continuity shots.

As the film gets made, every single person in the village gets involved and contributes to its completion. There is a beautiful scene where a slightly negative character has a change of heart and comes forward to contribute to the project. Guess what he wants in return? To have his name mentioned in the credits. Scenes like these are proof of the kind of impact cinema has on our lives.

Cinema Bandi is a sweet little film that has so much to offer. It’s an out-and-out drama about the amateur filmmaking process, the ecstasy and agony behind bringing these movies to life.

Netflix is now streaming Cinema Bandi.

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