Chennai, 25 Sep 2021 13:20 IST
In spite of the hurried climax and predictable end, the film works because of its sensible treatment and earnest performances by Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi, who complement each other well.
Sekhar Kammula is one of the more sensible filmmakers in mainstream Telugu cinema today. With Love Story, his latest outing, he touches upon themes like the caste and class divide, middle-class problems and sexual harassment in the backdrop of an inter-caste, inter-religious tale of love in a hard-hitting and moving fashion.
In spite of the hurried climax and predictable end, the film works to a large extent because of its sensible treatment and earnest performances by Naga Chaitanya and Sai Pallavi, who complement each other well.
Naga Chaitanya plays Revanth, a Christian from a lower caste. His strong-willed mother raises him to be independent, and he grows up to become a Zumba instructor. But life isn’t a cakewalk for Revanth, who struggles to pay even his house rent.
Sai Pallavi plays Mounica, an upper-caste Hindu, who moves to the city in search of a job to prove herself to her family. Revanth and Mounica bond over dance and come together to set up a Zumba studio. In the process, they fall in love and what happens to their relationship forms the crux of the story.
Like most romances, Love Story is breezy and treads the familiar path. However, the treatment gets sensible when the story questions issues like honour and caste-based discrimination.
There is a disturbing subplot about sexual harassment within a family. Sekhar Kammula asks how you define honour in such situations or whether it only applies to rules set by caste.
As the film digs deeper to discuss the horrors of caste pride in the 21st century, the film keeps the viewer invested. The rushed climax is a bit of a letdown, but even so this is Sekhar Kammula’s most complete film yet.
Sai Pallavi is unbelievably effortless when she is dancing like nothing else matters. She is a treat to watch and this is one of her best performances in recent years. It’s no surprise that she is good at dancing, but she stuns you with her expressions, especially when she is struggling to reveal a secret she has been holding on to for years.
Naga Chaitanya is equally good and earnest in his performance. As a pair, they shine in some of the best moments on screen. Even in the dance sequences, it is refreshing to see Naga Chaitanya matching steps with Sai Pallavi and not the other way around.
Rajeev Kanakala, who is usually sidelined as a character artist, gets a meaty part and nails the character with the Telangana accent.
The ending of Love Story needed more heft. Also, for a film that talks about issues associated with caste-based discrimination, it is a bit disappointing that it rarely mentions the word caste and prefers to use ‘us’ and ‘them’.
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