Review: Aranya(Rana Daggubati)

Aranya’ hits the cinemas on March 26 (Friday). The jungle drama, starring Rana Daggubati, has released after a delay of a year. Last year, it was meant to release on April 1, 2020. Does the film live up to the hype? What are its merits and demerits? Let’s find out in our review.

Story:

Aranya (Rana Daggubati) lives in a jungle near Vizag. Known for taking care of its flora and fauna, he is the recipient of a prestigious award and is seen as a hero by tribals. Kanakamedala Raja Gopalam (Anant Mahadevan), the Environment Minister, decides to allow the construction of a refinery-cum-township by encroaching the habitant of elephants in the jungle. This enrages Aranya, who resorts to various tricks in the book, to stop the encroachment. The ordeals he faces in the attempt to save the forest is the crux of the story. 

Performances

Rana delivers a solid act as a jungle man who lives among animals. The scenes involving elephants needed him to be spontaneous and he delivers a dekko. The ‘Baahubali’ actor rose to the occasion and satisfied the huge demands of the character. Vishnu Vishal, who is not familiar to the Telugu audience, is enjoyable in the role of a mahout with a selfish motive. 

Zoya Hussain, who plays a Maoist, delivers an okay performance. Shriya Pilgaonkar is somewhat boring in the role of a journalist. Anant Mahadevan is at his usual self. Raghu Babu is good in an emotional-cum-comical role. Ravi Kale and others are routine. 

Technical Departments:

Shantanu Moitra’s music becomes a character in the movie. There are three songs, which are uniformly brief. ‘Chitike Se Aa Chirugaali’, ‘Vellu Vellu’, and ‘Hrudayame’ are impressive. Sound design by the Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty is distinct. The background score by the Shantanu Moitra-George Joseph duo is passable.

Cinematography by AR Ashok Kumar captures the feel of the jungle in an effective manner. Editing by Bhuvan Srinivasan is able.

One feels that the VFX department could have done a far better job. 

Analysis:

“In the chaos of the jungle, a war is brewing. Trumpets roar as the elephants prepare for battle. Man or nature, which side will you be on?” This is what the official synopsis of ‘Aranya’ said when the trailer released. The question is: Does the film live up to the description? Writer-director Prabhu Solomon stays true to the subject. 

While the trailer indicated that much rests on the shoulders of Rana’s character, the film is otherwise. Rana’s Aranya is not your typical hero. At the same time, he is also given to doing conventional things such as getting fiery. 

While the first half passes without major hiccups, trouble brews in the second half. The scenes are haphazard, with Vishnu Vishal’s track, which involves a ‘kumki’ (trained elephant), pushing the main track to the backburner for a while. The forest officials, the corporates, the politicians, the cops – they are all caricaturish. 

‘Stunner’ Sam and Stun Siva pack in stunts that make only minimal impact. Mayur Sharma’s production design could have been. Costumes by Kirti Kolwankar and Maria Tharakan are able.

Vanamali’s dialogues are brief and don’t go overboard. Solomon’s screenplay could have done without too many shots of voiceless elephants. The jungles, ranging from Thailand to Kerala, look somewhat artificial due to the VFX-ization of frames. 

Verdict:

‘Aranya’ tells the story of a lone man’s fight against the destruction of a forest. It takes to too many stock tropes in narrating the tale.

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