Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pournami: Poor Trisha!

The name of this film may be Pournami but it has two stand-out performances, neither of which are the titular Pournami. Prabhas puts in a stellar performance as Shiva Keshava, the young “western-style dance instructor” who comes to town. And the other is the delightful Charmy Kaur as Chandrakala – Pournami’s little sister.

(She’s SO CUTE!!!!)

The two of them reminded me a lot of Sri Devi and Anil Kapoor. What a fantastic jodi! (And I would like to see it repeated again, please, Powers-That-Be!)

I don’t want to give too much of the plot of Pournami away, so I’ll try to be as vague as I can in certain places.

Pournami is really two films in one, framed by a myth. In the village where this film takes place, there is a temple where, every 12 years, a woman descended from this one particular family must dance for Lord Shiva or else they won’t have any rain for their crops. Our heroine(s), Pournami (Trisha) and Chandrakala (Charmy) are the two sisters in that family and Pournami (the elder) has been training to do the dance since she was a little girl.

As we begin our first story, Pournami has disappeared and the town elders are upset. Who is going to dance at the ceremony? For some reason, Chandrakala’s father refuses to teach her…

Into the mix comes Shiva (Prabhas)! He’s a Shammi Kapoor knock-off who enjoys teasing Chandrakala like Shammi enjoyed teasing… well, all of his heroines. They enjoy a comfortable and antagonistic banter until one day, a misdirected “mickey” from one of Shiva’s more enthusiastic female students ends up being drunk by Chandrakala instead and she lets loose in a fury – nay, a FRENZY of dancing! It’s really something to watch!

You can’t keep a good dancer down and Charmy is a delight to watch – she’s so organic and fluid in her motions…

Shiva speaks with Chandrakala’s father and they begin training her for the big ceremony.

Of course, not everything can run so smoothly in a masala film and the second half of Pournami is a flashback that explains what exactly happened to Pournami.

It’s much grittier and in a more realistic style than the first half. The two stories merge for the unbelievably intense finale, which I will not give away here.

So, what was so special about Pournami that I had to pause it to tweet that it was the greatest movie of all time?

First of all, the cinematography is fantastic. The first half plays like self-aware masala, with exaggerated camera moves, characters, music, and everything! Rahul Dev shows up as a menacing zamindar and he has these hilarious bodyguards that do everything in unison! Everything is staged to be very, very filmi – but the emotional level isn’t ignored. The film knew that it was filmi and just worked with it, in a satisfying way.

The switch in tenor comes as kind of shock – like being dropped from Padosan into Sholay - and the introduction of Trisha is, sadly, rather anticlimactic after the tour-de-force of Charmy. Don’t get me wrong, I like Trisha. I think she’s a fine actress and I probably would have enjoyed her role a lot more if Charmy hadn’t been so gosh darned winning.

Trisha, as Pournami, never really captures the pathos of the character. She is the weak link in the film and it’s a real shame because everyone else – from Rahul Dev to Sindu Tolani as Shiva’s gun wielding, marriage minded cousin – are fabulous. Not only that, we’re supposed to think that she’s this amazing dancer but, really, Charmy is a lot better. Pournami has this tragic backstory but Trisha plays her straight, never really hinting at a deeper level.

Meanwhile, back in the cute part of town…

… Prabhas and Charmy do this amazing tour of India dance number inside a giant lotus!!

Their relationship in the film was really, really cute. I don’t often like the “I hate you – no, I love you!” school of seduction but the staginess of the first half was so pronounced that the pig-tail pulling always had a giant wink behind it.

The funny part is that she falls first – he’s teasing her just because he’s playing a “hero” and that is what they do. But there is this very funny scene where Charmy tosses a cobra into Prabhas’s dance school to get back at him for something or other and instead of freaking out, Prabhas pulls out his flute and charms both the cobra AND Charmy at the same time with his music.

He doesn’t fall for her until her little song (which I embedded above). His face at her spazzing is priceless!

While not quite as seamless a film as Varsham, I still really enjoyed Pournami! I didn’t want to give too much away but trust me that there are some seriously intense moments – one of which may or may not involve a duel by dance-fighting between Rahul Dev and Prabhas and another may just top the final dance sequences in Pakeezah AND Sholay. Watch and then discuss with me!

(I challenge you!)

Prabhas is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite Heroes and I’ve found a new actress to adore in Charmy Kaur!


Michael Barnum said...

I watched this one several months back and agree with everything you say...wonderful film!

Anonymous said...

This is my the favourite movie of Prabhas. That last temple dance number is itself worth the price of admission. Any movie with classical dance concept is an automatic winner for me, so no wonder i fell for this movie hook, line & sinker.
I feel that one has to watch someother movie of Prabhas, before watching Pournami to appreciate his charm fully. Charmi is a complete delight. Trisha can never hope to be in the same league as Charmi.
If you liked Charmi here, check out 'Anukokunda Oka Roju'. She carried the entire movie on her shoulders & it was a major hit. Another good movie of Charmi's where she lets her inner Sridevi out is 'Sri Anjaneyam'.
Prabhu Deva has proved his worth with NVNV & Pournami. (I'll give a pass to his Wanted, because its mighty tough to come anywhere close to original Pokiri). Now i cannot wait for his new movie with Sid to start in Dec!


Filmi Girl said...

@Michael This is one I could watch over and over and find something new every time. I'm just surprised it took me this long to find it! I'm surprised it didn't do well at the Box Office.

@Kiran Prabhas is sooooo good in this one! I think Billa is my favorite performance of his but this one is very good, too!

I'm so glad you agree about Trisha and Charmy. Trisha is beautiful and she is not a bad actress - on the contrary! - but this role needed somebody with a bit more depth and she just couldn't bring it.

I will look for Anukokunda Oka Roju - it sounds fantastic!

Thanks for stopping by!!

martoufmarty said...

Prabhas doesn't kick people in the face? I've only seen him in Bujjigadu (I have Billa, but I want to wait until possibly Saturday night/Sunday to watch it on the big TV with my mom and my sister - it's not a film I can simply watch on my portable DVD player during lunch at work or at my computer) and I love his action hero-ness of kicking people in the face, but like I said before, I wanted to see him in a film where he isn't a big action hero.

By the sounds of it, he doesn't kick people in the face, hai na?

Filmi Girl said...

You know, he really doesn't kick anyone in the face. He outsmarts a couple of guys and has this awesome dance/duel with Rahul Dev and may or may not get all badass with a gun but he is not really an action hero in this one.

You might really like it!!!

Anonymous said...

"Anukokunda Oka Roju" was remade in Hindi as "Sunday" with Ajay Devgan and Ayesha Takia. The original telugu one was much better - simple sticking to the story - not much of glamour unlike the hindi remake. The hindi version flopped which is not surprising.

There is one lovely song of Ajay and Ayesha picturised in and around Delhi in the hindi version which is enjoyable.

Anonymous said...

Filmi Girl: I agree, Trisha is a pretty decent actress, its just that not wise for her to share screen space with Charmi. Can't wait to read your take on AOK.
Martoufmarty: What an antiseptic movie watching experience it would be if the hero doesn't kick someone in the face! What would we do with all the whistles,claps & paper bits?
Kidding. Kidding ;-)
Pournami has very few action sequences. Do give it a try.

Note from Filmi Girl:

I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.

If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.

xoxo Filmi Girl
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