Phalana Abbayi Phalana Ammayi Movie Review: As comforting as a bowl of muddapappu avakai

Story: Sanjay (Naga Shaurya) and Anupama (Malvika Nair) love each other a lot. But is that enough to make their relationship work?

Review: In Srinivas Avasarala’s Phalana Abbayi Phalana Ammayi (PAPA) we have two of the most relatable characters brought to the silver screen. He takes us on a journey – years where they grow up together, sometimes grow apart, but with a love that never seems to wane.

Sanjay (Naga Shaurya) meets Anupama (Malvika Nair) in college when they’re both bright-eyed youngsters in Vizag. They click, spend time together and soon seem to form a bond that doesn’t let them stay apart. They even follow each other to the UK for higher studies. Are they best friends? Is it more than just friendship? Neither the couple nor Srinivas are in a hurry to put a tag there.

We follow their lives as they go from being fresh faced and innocent to looking haggard and sitting quietly in the ruins of what once was. In a poignant scene, Sanjay and Anupama look back at the people they were and let the silence speak more than their words. He talks a lot, but seems to not know how to say the right thing till it’s too late. She has a bone to pick with him, she knows she deserves more.

The story Srinivas Avasarala tells is one that’s as old as time. It’s hard not to relate to it because if you’ve ever fallen in love, you know what it’s like to feel the sweet pang of longing. He doesn’t reinvent the wheel here when a conflict is thrown in their path, something that threatens to tear them apart – it’s not as dramatic though. Because Srinivas knows how to create moments without making a big deal out of them.

PAPA is the kind of film that you’ll either love or hate. The narrative is non-linear, so when this tale begins, we kind of already know that things have gone wrong. You can also predict why they’ve gone wrong if you’re paying attention. The only question that remains is – will they wind up together – and Srinivas makes the journey delightful for the most part. Sure, a song at the beginning (Kafeefi) comes across as juvenile – but then, so are these characters at that stage of their lives. So, we’re just nit picking here.

Naga Shaurya really comes into his own as Sanjay as the film progresses. He especially makes your heart tug at the fag end of the film when he lets himself be vulnerable. It has to be one of his best performances till date. Malvika embodies Anupama in a way that you can’t help but root for her. You want her to find happiness and love. PAPA has been shot in sync sound, a great choice because it helps the dialogues flow a lot more naturally. The rest of the cast (including Srinivas Avasarala) fare well. But it’s Harino Rao as Neelima Ratnababu who takes the cake – she’s hilarious.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a piping hot plate of biryani filled with spices. But occasionally, you just crave a comforting bowl of muddapappu avakai – which is what PAPA is. Go watch if you’re looking for a light-hearted love story.

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