Athadu to Guntur Kaaram: Exploring Trivikram Srinivas’ fascination with broken families
When Trivikram Srinivas debuted in 2002, he was hailed as a new-age director with innovative writing skills. A few years later, is he getting repetitive?
Trivikram Srinivas has directed 12 films since 2002. Some films have an interesting story with interesting characters, some have memorable music, some…let’s just say, have scenes heavily ‘inspired’ by popular world cinema or Telugu literature. But one thing that remained consistent for many years was that no one could narrate a film like Trivikram could, with scenes that stuck with you.
And now, two decades after his debut, one can’t help but wonder why the director is so fascinated with estranged families. Think of his recent work and it all features the ‘return of’ a family member into the fold. Healthy familial bonds just don't seem to inspire him. So, here's looking at six films by the director that feature tumultuous families. (Also Read: From Mahesh Babu to Allu Arjun, looking back at five times Tollywood stars opened up about smoking)
Trivikram’s sophomore film might have plot points similar to those in Hollywood films like US Marshals, Assassins and The Shooter, but when it was released, no one cared. While Mahesh Babu plays an assassin on the run, the film’s heart lies in the story of a family reuniting with their estranged child after years. Nassar played the family's patriarch with ease and Mahesh’s stoic yet sensitive Nandu/Pardhu remains one of his best roles yet.
Attarintiki Daredi (2013)
When this Pawan Kalyan, Nadhiya-starrer was released, it felt fresh, entertaining, and funny. The heart-touching story of a nephew trying to bring his alienated aunt back into the fold felt relatable to many. Boman Irani and Nadhiya, whom the story revolves around, hit it out of the park. Pawan’s monologue in the climax, waxing poetic about how much the family missed his aunt all these years, remains memorable.
A Aa (2016)
Loosely based on Yaddanapudi Sulochana Rani’s novel Meena, Nadhiya yet again played a woman driven away from a family. Nithiin played her nephew, a man being forced to marry to pay off his late father’s debt while Samantha Ruth Prabhu played the woman he secretly loves. While this film also saw the proverbial return of a daughter, Trivikram’s intrigue with broken families wasn’t that jarring yet.
This Pawan-starrer was highly anticipated. And yet, what the audience got was something sloppily made and lazily acted despite a banger album by Anirudh Ravichander. Making things worse were plagiarism allegations by French director Jérôme Salle for ripping off his film Largo Winch. By now, the audience had also grown tired of Trivikram’s morbid obsession with breaking up families. This time around, a son returns home for his stepmother after his father dies.
Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020)
Allu Arjun was in desperate need of a massive hit when Trivikram made this film. While the basic story had nothing new to offer beyond the same ol’ babies switched at birth trope with some casteist undertones, Allu’s performance, Thaman S’ music, Trivikram’s dialogues and the film's overall vibe made this a perfect Sankranthi watch. Allu and Trivikram were redeemed in the eyes of the audience with this film that saw the return of a son to his metaphorical kingdom.
Guntur Kaaram (2024)
This Mahesh-starrer is running in theatres, having released on January 12, but Trivikram’s favourite fall-back theme did not seem to work this time. The film has been holding strong at the box office but opened to mixed reviews - something no one expected. Mahesh plays a son estranged from his mother, Ramya Krishnan, looking for answers as to why she abandoned him for 25 years. His performance, dialogue delivery and character traits feel like the only thing going for it. Because two decades later, the director’s favourite motif feels beaten to death.
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