What is the story about?
Krishna (Karthik), a resident of Siricilla village develops feelings for his classmate Pushpa (Krishna Priya) but he isn’t man enough to express his love towards her. A few years pass by and Krishna finally decides to propose to his love interest. This sets in motion a series of massacres and caste-based feuds which look destined to burn the entire village down to ashes. How does Krishna’s love track fuel an ugly brawl in the village? How do the men in power with vested interests stake a claim in the journey of the lead pair? The answers to these questions form the remaining plot.
Following the infamous Miryalaguda honour killing which claimed the life of a 23-year lad named Pranav, Tollywood has seen quite a few films with plots revolving around casteism and communal brawls. Ardha Shathabdham falls under the very same category. However, the film is neither captivating nor does it have any novelty. It is a plethora of one vicious murder followed by another.
For some strange reason, the director Rawindra Pulle opted to load the entire opening half with glamourised songs. Let alone setting up the mood, these songs act as speed breakers for the already tiresome narrative. He emphasises way too much on the visual presentation and leaves compelling storytelling to the air. The entirety of the opening half is clumsy and incoherent. But little do we know that the actual borefest begins post the 1-hour mark as the violent repercussions of the love story take the centre stage.
For films based on casteism and honour killings, the gravity of the situation and its consequent effects on the lead characters should be established in the opening exchanges. But that doesn’t happen in the case of Ardha Shathabdham. The film draws a blank on both the counts. The subplot related to a local police officer, played by Naveen Chandra is presented in the worst possible manner. All he does is wait for orders from his superiors. One might question the capabilities of the scriptwriter after watching the sequences involving the police character.
The dialogues are unnecessarily explicit in a few sequences but a few one-liners are thought-provoking. Amid all the high drama surrounding the honour killings, we might even forget that the love drama which catapulted all this is still existent. Poor character establishment is to be blamed for the same.
Karthik Rathnam showcased his acting prowess with C/O Kancherapalem and Gods of Dharmapuri. But the cliched and lackluster character he plays in Ardha Shathabdham doesn’t let him flex his nuances. Krishna Priya makes brief appearances now and again and that is about it. She doesn’t have much scope to perform or emote.
The film has a host of proven actors including Naveen Chandra, Ajay, Subhaleka Sudhakar, and Sai Kumar in supporting roles but they simply can’t breathe life into this horrendously narrated rustic drama. Their efforts go in vain.
Music & Other Departments
Nawfal Raja’s music is okayish at the very best. The background score isn’t arresting enough in penultimate scenes, which further dampens the mood. Cinematography is neat. Production designing is appreciable as the essence of a rural landscape in the early 2000s is encapsulated well.
Literally every aspect of the film.
Did I enjoy it?
A big fat NO.
Do I recommend it?
Guess you would know the answer by now.