Review: Aakashavaani

‘Aakashavaani’ is out on SonyLIV as a direct-to-service release. Let’s find out its hits and misses.

Story:

In a hamlet near Paderu, a group of 40 tribals believes that Dora (Vinay Varma) is their God as much as a lingam-shaped idol is. But their faith is turned upside down when a semi-functional radio starts playing the songs that suit their queries. They now start getting a sense of divine retribution and all. This is when a sarkari school teacher named Chandram Master (Samuthirakani) happens to live with them and becomes an accidental saviour.

Performances:
Debutant director Ashwin Gangaraju has roped in theatre artists who look the part. Be it the child artist, Mime Madhu or Prashant, they all fit the bill thoroughly.

Samuthirakani has played negative roles in commercial movies such as ‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’ and ‘Krack’. Here, he plays an idealistic character. Vinay Varma, who was seen in recent movies such as ‘Dorasaani’ and ‘Aravindha Sametha’, feels like a caricatured character. Teja Kakumanu as Sambadu, the terrifying chieftain who is made to look like a primitive man, is apt.

Technical Departments:
Kaala Bhairava has been a go-to composer for small movies such as ‘Thellavarithe Guruvaram’ and ‘Mathu Vadalara’. His talent helps elevate a lot of scenes in this film. Suresh Ragutu’s camera makes the Agency area look rawer than it already is. 
Mohan and Sandeep seem to have had a good time as production designers. Phani Vihari’s VFX works would have received a fillip in a big-scale movie. 

Analysis:
The film floats a question about divinity and the identity of the divine at the outset. Whether the answer is superficial or convenient or profound is a debate for another day. As a philosophical take, ‘Aakashavaani’ is only half a success. While we see that a series of fortuitous events are taking place, we never understand if there is consciousness involved. The question of faith is about whether God is matter or consciousness. The film doesn’t have an answer.

Leaving the philosophical question aside, ‘Aakashavaani’ holds promise in a lot of ways. The first half is not only concise and effective but also makes us root for the tribal group. We are invested in their fate, although not as heavily as we should. 
But the second half becomes almost insipid, with the exploiter-exploited trope overstaying its welcome. The heft in the drama waits for the last 30 minutes. 

At 212 minutes or so, the film could have been so much more than the fortuitous events, the wailing characters and all. The allegory of the Hiranyakshyapa-Prahalad story is interesting. The track of Dora’s son could have been more creative.

Bottomline: 
‘Aakshavaani’ is a watchable fare despite its flaws. A boring second half tires you out, though. 

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