'Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam': A poorly-written social drama

The first half is seemingly watchable, while the second half drags and makes for tiresome viewing
Actor Allari Naresh - Express Photo by Sai Ramesh
Actor Allari Naresh - Express Photo by Sai Ramesh

Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam, directed by AR Mohan and featuring Allari Naresh in the lead, is a hard-hitting film that tells the sordid tale of the villagers of Gudem, who are deprived of basic amenities for three decades.

A Telugu teacher Sripada Srinivas (Allari Naresh) and his colleague and English teacher (Vennela Kishore) are deputed to Maredumilli on election duty. Their task is to achieve 100 percent voting in the agency region where the 12 villages are fed up with government apathy and eventually decide to boycott the election.

They get the help of a tribal girl Lachimi (Anandhi) and set out to resolve the social issues prevailing in the village. What happens next? Do the villagers budge? Will the officers be able to conduct the election peacefully?

Director AR Mohan has chosen a storyline that is as old as time. Intended as a social drama that takes on the political system, the film is so preachy, predictable, and boring that you feel like attending a moral science session.

The first half is seemingly watchable, while the second half drags and makes for tiresome viewing. Although the film doesn’t finish with the same promise you witnessed early on, it has several moments that are enjoyable. The scene where Naresh and the villagers come together to help a woman deliver a baby by employing age-old techniques, another scene where the death of a villager was narrated, the election result declaration, and the pre-interval bang manage to hold your interest to an extent. The humour, injected by way of some witty lines as well as the situational comedy after Raghu Babu enters the fray, is the only saving grace, or else the writing lacks gravitas.

Also, there is no reason to believe that the entire police force, as well as the military unit, make futile attempts to control some 250-odd people in a village. It is where you feel that the drama element is made to look cliche and silly.

If you’re unfamiliar with village jargon, much of this movie is going to sound like a foreign language to you. It could have been gritty and realistic, but it goes for a more commercial, populist tone instead. The conflict seems too simplistic, and you would guess what the outcome would be!

At 122 minutes, Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam feels a tad too long. The story is devoid of the emotional heft and had there been an absorbing drama, things would have certainly made the narrative so attractive and enjoyable. AR Mohan directs the film with a heavy hand, underlining every point he makes, leaving absolutely nothing to subtlety. The message of this movie is clear from early on —the apathy of government is no good for society —and the director takes it upon himself to preach the effects of oppression and gross negligence by the authorities.

The acting’s solid, particularly from Allari Naresh who appears intense, wiser, and at times restrained, but still seems to possess that shark-like quality when he faces an obstacle.  The film also benefits largely from its supporting cast played by Vennela Kishore, Sritej, and Kumanan. Anandhi is impressive as a tribal girl, whose understanding of the issue, landscape, and its people is deeper than anyone else’s. But some depth and more screen time would have certainly made her role memorable.

Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam is, in one word, underwhelming. The poorly written script and the convoluted narration sans any novelty prove to be the real villain of this thought-provoking social drama.

Itlu Maredumilli Prajaneekam
Cast: Allari Naresh, Anandhi, Vennela Kishore, Sampath Raj
Director: AR Mohan

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