Aranya Movie Review: Rana Daggubati and the elephants doesn't create any impactModified On: 26 March 2021 | Reviewed By: Saurabh S Nair
The film was written and directed by Prabh Solomon. The message of the film might be the only good thing about this story because everything else seems to lose its sheen.
Cast: Rana Dagubatti, Zoya Hussain, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Vishnu Vishal
Directed By: Prabhu Solomon
Prabhu Solomon has spent a large part of his filmmaking career exploring stories set in forests — Mynaa, Kumki, Kumki 2, and now Aranya (Kaadan in Tamil). Perhaps, he sees and hears things that aren’t instantly apparent to most of us. You can’t shake off the feeling that maybe, Rana Daggubati who plays Aranya, the Forest Man, is himself it is an indirect hat tip to Jadav Payeng, considered the Forest Man of India.
Like Payeng, the on-screen jungle man is credited to have planted several thousand trees. Barring that similarity, the protagonist’s journey here is a fictional one. His real name, Narendra Bhupathi, is mentioned fleetingly. He’s better addressed as Aranya (Kaadan in Tamil). Having grown up in the lap of nature, he understands every call of a bird or animal and his conversations with the flora and fauna are fun. manifestation of Solomon himself who trumpets the message about forests and elephants from the first frame to the last.
Aranya, the film, is a cacophony of ideas and the screenplay is derived from Murphy’s Law - Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Right from the moment, Aranya drives away intruders, we get a clear idea of what’s coming next and how rampant urbanisation is leading to more man vs animal conflicts.
it’s a forest, Prabhu Solomon also includes a subplot about indigenous tribes and Naxalites. What the film essentially tries to do is ask us a simple question - Who does the forest belong to? Is it the property of the state, which sometimes pays no attention to the rights of people living inside the forest for generations? Does it belong to animals, especially elephants among others, which nourish it and shape the ecosystem? Or does it belong to anyone who respects the way of the jungle? But then, there are no easy answers.
It’s a different issue that almost every other character in the film is filled with so many stereotypes that you would rather want to have a conversation with the elephants themselves. At least, they seem to feel a lot more frustration and pain and actually show that they care about those who care for them.
The film tries really hard to make us empathise with the fate of forest dwellers, and that of Aranya himself, who doesn’t give up despite the odds against him. You can see the sheer hard work that Rana has put in, whether it’s his body language or the way he emotes in that state (he always seems to be in an anxious state), to play the role. And he trumpets his voice right till the end because no one loves or cares about the elephants as much as he does.
And then, everything goes downhill. What exactly is Vishnu Vishal doing in this film, or why Zoya Hussain is cast in an inconsequential role, or why Shriya Pilgaonkar seems to have only six lines to speak in the entire film, or why Anant Mahadevan has such a shallow role....it’s probably easier to understand the plight of the elephants in the forest than these characters in the story.
The film has its moments. You can guess when an elephant will come in harm’s way and yet when it happens, it shakes you up. When a herd of elephants go in search of water, it’s a desperate call for survival. One of the scenes from the final moments, which befits the Hindi title Haathi Mere Saathi, is equally moving.
There is, however, one thing which the film achieves quite well. It makes a convincing pitch to the viewers that elephants have feelings and no one should destroy the natural ecosystems. The message might be the only good thing about this story because everything else seems to lose its sheen. Solomon drops seeds of thoughts all over the forest and expects us to connect the dots, when neither the path nor the storytelling is interesting. Quite frankly, Rana and the elephants needed a better film.
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