The digital medium can be a wonderful space to mirror conflicts that ail modern-day relationships sans inhibition or the worry of pandering to a certain section of audiences. But, what if filmmakers don’t use that creative license and treat it as another avenue to rehash done-to-death cinematic tropes in a longer form? Anaganaga, ZEE5’s latest Telugu offering, despite its sincere attempt in coming up with a love anthology depicting contrasting perspectives of love, feels more like old wine in a new bottle.
What could have been a stinging take on commitment issues, self-denial and reflect the inability to move on among millennials ends up being a drab, bloated relationship drama that lacks depth and conviction. Anaganaga’s narrative isn’t without its element of intrigue - the non-linear execution and the very idea of culminating multiple love stories at the same location in a city bring some novelty to an outing that plays too safe and is thereby uninteresting at the same time.
The diversity in the stories are impressive, but the writing is uni-dimensional and the acting, too amateurish to make any impression.
Sam and Anjali remain best of friends since childhood - the latter is interested to take the relationship forward while the man remains unsure. The much-in-love couple Anand and Maya are in the cusp of getting married, but the spark’s amiss in their relationship. An ambitious CEO Himanshu Dev Kashyap is yet to come to terms with the loss of a loved one and finds newer ways to ruin his life by the day. A non-committal youngster Jai fails to understand the thin line between harmless flirting and a serious relationship, only to repent later. Eesha, trying hard to say ‘no’ to a marriage proposal is charmed by a stalker, Vamsi, an entrepreneur.
All these threads don’t score high on detailing or novelty. There’s nothing to establish why Sam and Anjali are best friends beyond a ‘dare game’ where they choose to embarrass themselves in front of strangers in public spots. There’s little basis behind what makes Himanshu Dev Kashyap, the most celebrated entrepreneur in the country - all you get are vague one-liners from an interview with an overwhelmed journalist. It’s hard to understand what is so charming about a businessman stalking a soon-to-married woman across bus stops, beaches and her room. The endless conversations between Jai and his romantic interest Taara about destiny and love don’t help the proceedings either.
The approach that the director Hussain Sha Kiran adopts to string these threads into a single unit is Anaganaga’s only saving grace beyond the stunning visuals capturing the length and breadth of Visakhapatnam to good effect. The choice of locales and exteriors across various situations in the story ensure the right visual texture.
Among the actors, it’s the popular face in the Telugu digital space, Abhishek Maharshi who stands tall with a solid performance capturing the right mix of sarcasm, wit and on-screen spontaneity. Tarun Shetty, Monica Tavanam and Maya Nelluri show promise while they last. However, it’s quite obvious that an experienced cast could have helped resurrect the show to a large extent.
The director who sprung a surprise with his debut Meeku Meere Maaku Meme doesn’t have enough fuel in his tank to churn a memorable love anthology this time. Telugu webspace is in great need of consistency to keep its viewers engrossed.