It is still a Wednesday but there is a new release to be consumed. And with that I finished watching the new Telugu film Ammu streaming on Amazon Prime. Off late, we have seen many films centered around domestic abuse. It all started with the spectacular Malayalam film The Great Indian Kitchen that almost turned the genre on its head in many ways. It featured a female protagonist who was a silent recepient of the everyday atrocities at the hands of her husband who was NOT abusive but still had that thread of patriarchy in him. It made for such a compelling viewing that it was almost reflective of every family in today’s times.
Post that, there have been films which have been successfully tackling the subject like the Hindi film Darlings which was essentially a film on domestic abuse veiled as a dark comedy. Again a word to the parents that I have repeatedly putting it out – Teach your Sons from a very young age to respect women. For the husbands, lead by an example in front of your children(even when they aren’t looking) by treating your wife with love and respect. But coming to the review, I finished watching Ammu which again was based on this subject. And here are my two cents on it.
Story & Screenplay
Ammu follows the story of a woman who is repeatedly abusived physically and mentally by her husband till she finds a way to extract revenge. The story is most definitely relevant and needed to be told(no matter if it wasn’t entirely novel too). The screenplay standing at about 135 minutes, made for a slightly dragged watched.
There are two ways of looking at the film. If you are expecting this film to have the subtlety and be grounded like The Great Indian Kitchen then you will not like it. The film is absolutely in your face which in turn also adds to its advantage. And I say that because the proceedings are spine chilling and the messaging is loud and clear.
The drama opens with the introduction of the female protagonist who is married to her neighbour who works as a police officer(a metaphor for masculinity which in this case is toxic). All is well in their wedding until the tables begin to turn much to her disadvantage. Here I would like to mention that the switch in personality of the male protagonist just catches you off guard(even though it is predictable given the theme of the film). Probably, a small buildup may have been beneficial to prepare the audience for the ultimatum that follows. Probably, the writers wished to catch the audience completely off guard much like the female protagonist which may have prompted them to execute the proceedings in a way in which it was presented. So I would tend to give the benefit of doubt to the writers here.
The proceedings are bone chilling and terrifying in a brilliantly constructed atmosphere of fear. In a scene, a retort from the female protagonist is met with a loud thud of the plate on the wall next to her. This scene would send a shiver down your spine. In a separate scene, the anger management issues of the male protagonist are in full swing as he begins to take his wife for granted, the instances being intimidating her at the police station, or leaving her all alone on the road at night after an argument, or slapping her randomly after a fight. Another scene involving the female protagonist with her mother reveals that even her mother had gone through the same act with her husband and that she was told then that husbands have a “right” on them and that this is a byproduct of their “love”.
The second half is where the fightback takes place after the introduction of the third protagonist which acts as a foil. And it is here that the drama slightly stutters in terms of the writing and execution. It is still gripping and watchable but the kind of high which I was expecting was missing. It was fairly predictable in the way that it unfolded. The final act was good(in terms of its conclusion) but again underwhelming in many ways. But taking nothing away from the journey which is intimidating and definitely leaves you with a lot of anger and fear in what is a nicely penned screenplay.
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are well written and most definitely create a stir. The music and BGM are fairly good here. The cinematography is stupendous and does well in building the atmosphere of fear particularly in the first hour. The art design gives the film a fresh look as well. Director Charukesh Sekar definitely leaves a mark here. His storytelling technique is engaging and it creates the right kind of atmospherics. Perhaps the mild stutter in the second half could have been avoided, but overall his direction is pretty good.
The performances are really good here. Anjali Ameer has her moments to shine as Linny. Bobby Simha as Prabhu is quite endearing and sincere and he does a pretty good job. Naveen Chandra as Ravi is intimidating and a character that will make you angry. To his credit, this was not a half hearted act wherein he would hold himself back. He shows no remorse and goes all out with his performance that results in a bigger impact. He is terrific here. Aishwarya Lekshmi as Ammu is in fine form here. The way she depicts fear and pain on her face would male you empathize with her almost instantly. She is natural to the core in a towering act wherein she never gets overboard or carried away.
Ammu is a chilling drama with powerful performances that makes for a good watch. Available on Amazon Prime.