Santosh Soban and Priya Bhavani Shankar in ‘Kalyanam Kamaneeyam’
The third Telugu film to hit the screens for Sankranti, debut writer-director’s relationship drama Kalyanam kamaneeyam Starring Santosh Soban and Priya Bhavani Shankar, can be described as vanilla ice cream. Plain and basic. In the pre-release interviews, the team had stated that the story is reminiscent of real life situations where there isn’t much drama with twists and turns. The narrative echoes that sentiment. But if a film doesn’t make you empathize with or root for the characters, is it enough?
Kalyanam kamaneeyam begins with the protagonists Shiva (Santosh Soban) and Shruti (Priya Bhavani Shankar) getting married. She is a software engineer and he, supposedly a bright student in college and with good skill sets, is in search of a job. Shruti gladly takes on the financial responsibilities. Shiva is acutely aware of his situation and takes all the barbs that his father (Kedar Shankar), who he describes as a home guard without a uniform, aims at him.
Santosh plays Shiva with restraint and showcases the character’s happiness and gratitude at having found an understanding life partner who accepts him for what he is. The man-child sort of character is written with oft-explored traits — he lazes around at home while she is away at work, so much so that the house help also doesn’t respect him. And Priya Bhavani Shankar is adequate as Shruti.
Cast: Santosh Soban, Priya Bhavani Shankar
Direction: Anil Kumar Aalla
Music: Shravan Bharadwaj
Karthik Ghattamaneni’s cinematography and Ravinder’s production design create an aesthetic world for the newly married couple. Anil Kumar Aalla cares enough to justify how the couple, with just one earning member, can afford to live in an elegantly decorated upper middle class home that looks like it belongs to the pages of an architecture and interior magazine.
The conflict point comes in the form of a creepy colleague at Shruti’s workplace and gradually, one after another, things go wrong for the couple. The little things that Shiva neglects at home such as a tap not being repaired or plants not being watered, which Shruti overlooks in the beginning, become irritants when marital strife sets in. This is an observation that comes from life-like situations but however, but there is just not enough drama. The story nosedives post-intermission, with the plot points getting too contrived.
We don’t get an idea of what drew Shiva and Shruti together in the first place, for their drifting apart to have an impact. There are glimpses of Shiva looking at himself in the mirror, filled with guilt for having failed Shruti. But we look on, unmoved.
A glaring point missing in the workplace dynamics is how Shruti never once thinks of raising a complaint against a harasser (Satyam Rajesh as manager Bhushan). In the post-#MeToo scenario, it is mandatory for corporate offices to have redressal mechanisms for sexual harassment. It is time that stories written about contemporary workplaces, at least by new and emerging directors, factored it in.
The subplot involving Sapthagiri is rather lame and out of place.
Kalyanam kamaneeyam is earnest in trying to narrate a story of a young couple that has to tide over uncertainties to strengthen their bond. But the story is dull and the characters are underwritten. A duration of 106 minutes feels much longer.