Balagam REVIEW: Priyadarshi And Kavya Kalyanram Starrer Telugu Family Drama Excavates The Humour And Pathos Of Death

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Balagam REVIEW: Priyadarshi And Kavya Kalyanram Starrer Telugu Family Drama  Excavates The Humour And Pathos Of Death
Balagam (Prime Video)

Rating: ** ½

A death in the family triggers off a chain of reactions, some genuine, largely artificial. Writer-director Venu Yeldandi tries to capture all the humour and hysteria, all the bickering and the playacting that are unleashed keeping in mind the solemnity of the occasion. The trouble is, the mood of exacerbated emotions, floods into the narration so torrentially it is hard to tell which of the two is more hysterical: the characters or the way they are projected into the tragic circumstance.

Everyone is hamming. So is that the chosen mood of the characters? Or are these simply bad actors giving bad performances making the characters look more melodramatic than they are meant to be? The shrieking and breast-beating are enjoyable for a while.  But then the theatrics refuse to go anywhere. The interweaving of the characters’ bereavement, fake or otherwise, lacks any shred of grace.It is essentially free for all, and fun only if you are  a  fan of   the  Ramprasad Ki Tervi brand of ghoulish humour.

Sadly, the death-related jokes in Balagam are more foolish than ghoulish, more madcap than sensitive.  The writer-director is convinced that one death can set off a chain of events and that one person’s death  is  an occasion for the family to lose all self- control and squabble  dramatically.A daughter-in-law  brings  up her husband’s share of  the family property.  But  in time at  all,she is sobbing in repentance. When  the raunchy grandfather Komurayya(Sudhakar Reddy) dies suddenly, he  leaves behind a family  of belligerent relatives. The only one who exercises remarkable selfcontrol in the  midst of the   loud melodrama is  Komurayya’s son Ailayaa(Jairam). This is  the only performance that  shows any restraint.  Every other actors pulls out all stops, drenching the  drama in a torrent  of  theatrics.

The  deadman’s grandson Sailu(Priyadarshi) is  grieving more  about his interrupted marriage  than his  grandfather. Towards  the  end, his   priorities change. Sailu suddenly  becomes the weeping warrior  . The family shrieks,weeps, shrieks  some more. There is no element of a deeper understanding  of tragedy and bereavement  beyond the  surface squabbles and  bickering.

Finally  it is up to a sulking crow which flies  overhead  in sullen protest,  to put an end to this family’s wailing woes. Balagam tries hard to be funny  about bereavement.  But the thing about family tragedies is that they are amusing only to  the outsider. In this case, even objective bereavement  is  a  far cry.