Aranya Review & Rating
Aranya Review: A Well Intended And Brilliantly Made Watchable Film
Man And Environment
Man and environment are not interdependent. In fact, man is dependent on environment. Nature existed before the existence of man. And it continues to exist beyond man. Animals lived happily ever before man’s arrival. And coexisted with man (so many mans, feminist sisters may ask. So, little clarification... man as in human beings). And will live beyond the extinction of human race which the animals might have been secretly waiting for. Who knows?
So, Aranya tells this fact in a powerful way and emphasises that it is man who lends this world from other living beings. And it is this race which should ensure the damage should be minimal. Else, human existence will be in peril.
The story of Aranya
Narendra Bhupathi is Aranya. He’s the man who understood that human existence is courtesy the sacrifice of animals of their freedom to exist. So, he feels it his fundamental duty to protect the habitat of animals. He plants thousands of trees. And helps growth of the animals. Especially he understands the value of elephants. He has a way of communicating with animals and especially strikes a strong bond with animals.
His ancestors have given away a land of about 500 acres of forest land to the government. He lives in the forest and comes to be known as the Forest Man. He’s honoured by the central government with a President Medal. But things don’t go well all the time. Else, where can we get stories?
Enter Kanakamedala Rajagopalam, the Forest Minister, who plans to use the 500 acres to develop a township and monetise the potential of it. Environment. Greenery. And animals in surroundings. And people easily flock at such a prospect. Especially filthy rich. Of course, He send corporate honchos to take care of the issue. Aranya takes the issue personally and approaches the Centre (read: Delhi) and files the required papers to show that land belongs to him and obstructs the construction of the township.
The minister who knows Indian court procedures inside out continues his work. He understands the psyche of Aranya who doesn’t care much about men as much as he cares about animals. His temper is his fallacy. So, Rajagopalam provokes Aranya (have been seeing this technique in films since Amitabh Bachchan times and even before that. But as Aranya isn’t much versed in films - we assume -) gets him jailed. Now, there’s a distance between him and his beloved animals.
On the other hand are the animals. The elephants. They are shown as beastly creatures whose force cannot be tamed by human beings. Just as shown in the Jungle Book, they are the force of nature. But what are elephants without water? A huge wall is built to stop them reach their source of water. This makes them weak. Especially the younger ones. Now, they are shown as creatures that you will feel pity for. The emotional older elephants are now helpless as their kids are starving of water.
How and in what way Aranya fights this situation? Who helps him? Will he finally be able to stop the township and save the forest and indirectly humanity? Watch it on the big screens near you before the pandemic might affect theatrical movie watching experience again.
Writing and direction
Aranya is one of such movies that shouldn’t be framed in the commercial spectrum and evaluated wearing commercial coloured glasses. But even for sending out a very essential message to mass audience (read: majority of the audience) the film should be watchable. Aranya is certainly watchable for the way it is plotted. No unnecessary scenes are there. Right from the first frame it’s firmly established who Narendra Bhupathi is and his relationship with Nature and animals. No back stories are given why he loves nature or decided to protect the environment around him.
The role was based on the real life hero - Jadav "Molai" Payeng, an environmental activist and forestry worker from Majuli, popularly known as the Forest Man of India. Over the course of several decades, he has planted and tended trees on a sandbar of the river Brahmaputra turning it into a forest reserve. He bared several troubles and protected the trees from the villagers and others until the point they understood the greatness of his acts and the importance of his activities. He was honoured with Padma award.
This direct entry into the story gave this film an edge. But the subplots used with the characters of Singanna and Maoist Malli and their love story acted as detractions to the main story. But Vishnu Vishal as the mahout is good and added some kinetic energy to the film which is otherwise serious.
Rana Daggubati is known for taking challenging roles right from the beginning of his career and it is no surprise that he has taken the role of Narendra Bhupathi who is more than 50 and is devoid of glamour. Just like Dhanush did in Asuran, he played an aged role with elan. Similarly for his terrific performance he deserves National award. At least consideration if there’s serious competition. It is Aranya who we see on the screen than Rana Daggubati - one of the younger generation of actors who’s just started his married life.
Zoya Hussain as Malli is good. Shriya Pilgaonkar played the role of a journalist with a mission is good. Anant Mahadevan is good in the role of the minister. But his character is a caricature and his villainy is templatish. Many of the police and officials deployed by the minister are shown as pure evil. Even for cinematic purposes, such things may send wrong signals. And that doesn’t suit the naturalistic and grounded setting of the film.
The narration started right from the first scene itself is superb. The visuals are stellar. The forest is shown as beautiful and as terrifying depending on the situation. The dialogues are straight up to the point and are thought provoking. The screenplay is good to an extent but certain portions of the runtime witnessed lag.
The music is first rate. Academy Award Winner Rasool Pukutty’s sound design is world class. It has taken us into the world created by the director Prabhu Solomon. The cinematography is out of this world. The visuals are stunningly real. The scenery is shown with love for the art. The art department did a sound job. Editing could have been better at a few places. The production values are grand.
Aranya is not a film to be measured in terms of templates and rules. It’s a film made for us and our benefit. It’s a lesson everyone must keep in mind. But even such things need an interesting narration in these times of attention deficit. So, a few precautions should have been taken to avoid lags. Go and watch either as a lesson with rich visuals or as a commercial entertainer with animals. Either way, it gives you good time pass. The main purpose will anyway be served.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Reviewed by: GitacharYa
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