'Cinema Bandi' review: Its tragedy nudges, comedy makes you think
Telugu film Cinema Bandi produced by duo Raj-DK is now streaming on Netflix. The film chronicles a group of villagers who dare to follow their dreams with the least number of resources. They try, fail, learn and try again, taking you with them on the heartwarming journey, where you are rooting for them throughout. It's (brilliantly) directed by debutant Praveen Kandregula. Here's our review.
Hustling passengers in his auto in scorching heat, Veera (Vikas Vasistha) finds a movie camera by fate. Between contemplating whether to sell/rent it to clear his debts, the dreamer in him sees a bigger opportunity: To make a film, which will not only change his destiny, but also that of his village, that struggles even for the basics like electricity, water and proper roads.
A brilliant script is executed with unparalleled finesse. Veera, who teams with Gana (Sandeep Varanasi), a wedding photographer, is determined to make a movie. The duo scout actors, and start on their mission (a laugh-riot), but have to struggle for basics like electricity to charge the camera's batteries. It is then that Veera makes a moving point about the vicious circle of poverty.
The story is weaved in a way that you get to experience the process, challenges and 'jugaad' of filmmaking, in all its glory. Veera's auto doubles as a dolly, provides light for night-shoots, while a cart is used as a cinematographer's crane! The dialogues, music, characters keep you engaged through the 98-minute-long-run, so much that you wish you knew the language to enjoy better.
Actors, be it the leads, the supporting cast or even the ones without any dialogues, take the film a notch higher. Veera, who has to find a replacement for his heroine after she elopes, finds the badass Manga (Uma Yg), who sternly shuts down everyone badmouthing the movie. Veera and his wife show their bond beautifully without ever saying much. The performances are understated, but effective.
Starting out with a producer/director, cameraman and a lead pair, we gradually see a whole 'crew'. A little kid becomes the continuity-supervisor, while the village men help with the makeshift crane. By the end, we have a choreographer, junior artists and even spot-boys in place.
The film feels like a homage to the neo-noir movement and cinema greats like Vittorio De Sica (The Bicycle Thief), but it takes out the tragedy that makes you uncomfortable and replaces it with comedy. Comedy that still somehow makes you think about, and feel for the less-fortunate. It is a tale of dreamers with a vision and determination. A must-watch. Verdict: 4.5/5.