Director : Ram Gopal Varma
Producer : Kiran Kumar Koneru
Starring : Ravi Teja, Charmee Kaur, Prakash Raj, Lakshmi Manchu, Bramhanandam, Sunil others...
Tollywood stuff Rating :4/10
If you are curious to see how RGV transforms his vision or let’s say a random idea which seems to have struck his mind, then his latest film is a good example. Only difference is, the focus here isn’t on the film itself but how it was made in first place. ‘Dongala Mutha’ has a galaxy of stars including Ravi Teja, Charmi, Prakash Raj, Brahmanandam, Lakshmi Manchu, Subbaraju, Sunil, Supreet and Brahmaji. The film made quite a lot of pre-release buzz thanks to its ultra-low budget of Rs 6.5 lakhs and also because the shooting was completed in 4.5 days. Canon 5D camera which was used to shoot the film was touted to be the next big thing which would revolutionize filmmaking. The film narrates the story of a couple who find themselves in a precarious situation and how they manage to come out of it.
What’s it about : Ravi Teja and Charmi are on their way to a wedding when their car breaks down all of a sudden. They find a resort in that area; however the resort itself is completely deserted except for three people (Subbaraju, Supreeth and Brahmaji) who seem quite reluctant to have guests at their place. Supreeth lusts for Charmi and lets them stay in the resort which is almost in a dilapidated condition. Ravi Teja, who’s furious and frustrated by the lack of facilities in his hotel room, finds himself being threatened by the trio who turn out to be thieves. When he tries to escape from the place along with Charmi, the duo is confronted by Lakshmi Manchu and her assistant Sunil. The rest of the story is about how Ravi Teja and Charmi manage to escape from the resort.
What is Good : Dongala Mutha is a suspense drama with limited characters playing hide and seek in a small area. In this context, the drama unfolds at a good pace. Among the actors, Ravi Teja does a good job in his role where he finds himself in an odd situation. This film doesn’t try to showcase what Ravi Teja and his brand of entertainment is known for, but the actor breezes through his scenes. On the other hand, Charmi does well while portraying fear in her wide eyes and she carries off that astonished look for almost the entire length of the film. Prakash Raj entertains in his small role. Among other actors, it’s Subbaraju who stands out with his serious portrayal as the resort’s receptionist. His initial scenes of confrontation with Ravi Teja are good. Sunil, Supreeth and Brahmaji are alright. Lakshmi Manchu is alright in her role, although her accent never seems to evade her.
What is bad: There’s hardly anything in the film in terms of the story and novelty of the theme. Its one thing to try to spook the audience with some tense moments, but what’s bad is finding out that the film was much ado about nothing. The first half of the film is unnecessarily loud and once the hide and seek begins, it’s either comedy of errors or people finding themselves in odd situations where they have to make a choice. The second half of the film hardly has any dialogues or the few tense moments which stand out in first half. In the end, expectations from such a talented bunch of artists kill the joy of having seen a simple suspense drama-cum-thriller.
Technical Departments : Amar Mohile’s background score is unnecessarily loud and almost jarring at times. Three Canon 5D cameras were used and the film was shot by technicians from FX School. While the intent to make this film with handheld digital cameras is noteworthy, the ultra-low angles used for some scenes featuring Charmi and Lakshmi Manchu are crass. Editing is good and the fact that most of the scenes have shots from three different angles seems to have made it a little easier to capture the mood. Perhaps, RGV’s idea to make a low-cost film within five days seems to have overwhelmed every other aspect of filmmaking especially the narration and treatment. Could he have done a better job? Only RGV would have that answer.
Final Point : Last year, Dibakar Banerjee made a big splash when he shot his entire film LSD (Love Sex aur Dhoka) using a handy-cam and also some scenes were taken using a spy-cam. Despite the technology used in that film, it stood out due to the content of the film. On the contrary, RGV has embarked on a similar journey where the main intention was to make a low cost film within a short duration. Yes, he did achieve what he had promised and thereby showing the various possibilities with which the production cost can be brought down. But what is it that makes a film good or bad? It takes a lot more to make a good film than just shooting it with a handy-cam/Canon 5D, in terms of writing a good script, treatment, choosing the right cast among many other things. It’s time for more retrospection among aspiring filmmakers and also the audience. For now, Dongala Mutha delivers what it promises. A low cost film shot in 5 days with big names. It’s definitely not RGV’s best work and the same applies to all the actors involved in the film. Perhaps, the film needed a lot more than a Canon 5D to save the day.