This week, the cabal tackles a film we had some trouble classifying; in the end we decided Anukokunda Oka Roju is either a “suspenseful comedy” or “just a comedy. Despite the genre issues, we all thought the film was worth a watch and employed interesting storytelling techniques.
The film can be viewed with subtitles on Youtube here and in HD without subtitles here.
The music is from this epitome of instrumental fusion.
It’s true that the key reveal happens only towards the end, wouldn’t contest that criticism itself. The film could’ve introduced it a little early on. As one of you pointed out, we do see glimpses of the cult group early on. But only in the last 30 mins or so, there’s a quick flashback to some past time when Jagapati Babu first sees Pavan Malhotra’s then-marginal group (he recalls it as when he first saw that cult symbol) does seem convenient. But I think you guys are missing the subliminal current that ties the film together.
I loved the way the film gradually unfolds what really happened to the girl. It’s classic Hitchcockian suspense wherein the film makes us imagine the worst, the girl’s inexplicable horror is subliminally registered with the events that follow that night, and then we find out she somehow managed her way out. (I’d say the same of more than 1 Hitchcock film where there’s true horror in the middle and then there’s a rather comforting closure offered.)
There’s another very suggestive move on the film’s part here (how much of it was a conscious choice is a question I’m not going into). The film in a way upsets our ‘expectation’ on what might have happened to her, implicating us/the audience in surprising ways throughout. It’s crucial that much of the dread in our mind has to do with her sexuality. And tellingly, the mundane pleasure-seeking men, threatening as they are, are sort of all over the place. Even when drugged, we see she’s quite capable of getting herself out of such bad situations. She herself is suspicious of the working class male but he turns out to be her ally (this is a common trope in our films, to be honest). As she descends deeper into the night, the final threat for her is an orthodox all-male cult, a kind of spirituality that insists on a strain of masculine purity/discipline that’s all too familiar, one that points men to a heaven elsewhere rejecting the worldly life and in the same vein (not surprisingly) the feminine presence.
Ah! We did bring up the “all-male” cult in our discussion (another sacrifice to the proverbial editing room floor) but even in that discussion did not piece the strands together as well as you have in the comment. Thanks for listening!
And oh, I’ve been catching all of your podcasts right away. Great going! (Trying to be off Twitter hence not in the scenario of adding easy 1-liner/140-char comments.)
Will submit my neyar viruppam entries on and off. 🙂
Hi, I think it might have been lost in translation, but Charmee being ‘oblivious’/ doesn’t want to go to the cops isn’t true. She didn/’t want to bring the attention of her step-mom/parents to the events-that’s the reason she was reluctant to go to the police initially. There is a scene where the step-mom tells her dad to get Charmee married off as soon as possible.
Hi Harsha – I think what we were looking to point out was that she seems to neglect some suspicious incidents she witnessed when she eventually is interacting with the police (e.g. someone getting murdered). However, it is entirely fair that she wants to maintain a low profile. Thanks for listening to us and please keep an ear out for our upcoming episodes!