Konda Polam (Telugu): A unique tale of a boy and a tiger
Konda Polam might have its moments where it misses the mark but it gets more things right than wrong.Jobless since four years despite being well-educated, a young man heads to Nallamala forest with his father to help him with konda polam. Will he come out a changed man?
Based on a novel of the same name by Sannapureddi Venkata Ramireddy, director Krish terms Konda Polam as a tale of ‘becoming’. Lush greenery, a unique dialect, herds of goats and a rain-less land transport you to the universe this story is set in. Coming-of-age stories or rural ones are not new to Telugu cinema. The film, however, manages to keep you hooked due to the way it all unfolds.
Ravindranath aka Ravi (Vaisshnav Tej) is a young man who’s well-educated by his shepherd father in hope that he finds a plush job in the city. Despite attending coaching sessions,Ravi finds it hard to crack the interview or group discussion round no matter what he does.His spine seems to be in a perpetual state of shiver, be it in a boardroom or back home in the village where he’s constantly asked why he doesn’t have a job yet. Sent to the forest by his grandfather (Kota Srinivasa Rao) for konda polam, Ravi has to learn to let go of his fears if he’s to survive. And even more importantly, if he has to keep the hundreds of goats that depend on him alive.
Krish does a stupendous job of setting up the tale. The region they live in has not seen heavy rainfall since years. There is a water shortage not just for the humans there but also the goats the shepherd community look after. The shepherds call their herd they look after pranalu and seem as emotionally dependent on them as the voiceless creatures are on them.
The forest they live near is generous though. She provides them with food and even water when the time comes, apart from makeshift weapons made out of rocks to protect themselves from predators – both the human and animal kind.There is no dearth of conflict when you take a bunch of humans and throw them into the forest. They're just not the kind of 'conflict' you're usually used to seeing in cinema.
Apart from fighting for their life when the threat of a tiger looms large, deforestation is also something the film deals with. The tribal community living there has its own set of issues that no one can find a solution from apart from offering empathy. Ravi’s growth from a man who shivers at the sight of a snake to one who will look a tiger in the eye to protect his own transports you to a whole another world. Ravi Prakash gets a moving monologue that stays with you. Sai Chand makes your heart break when he cries for some rain.
Rakul Preet Singh plays the feisty Obu, Ravi’s reluctant partner-in-crime. The latter might be well-educated but the former is the one who knows the world he’s currently living in. She knows her way around not just the herd but also the forest, turning into his guru to teach him the ropes. The way Ravi and Obu’s love story is weaved into the bigger story at hand is good, even if it leaves you wanting more at times. An oddly placed dance number aside, MM Keeravani’s music does a good job of expressing their love when they can’t. The way they begin to understand each other's world also works.
You can watch this movie this weekend if you were waiting for a unique story to be told all along. This is not the film for you if you're looking for some masala though.
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