Mallesham review: An honest biopic on the man who transformed weaving
Priyadarshi's Mallesham is riveting biopic of Padma Shri awardee Chintakindi Mallesham who invents the Asu machine
By: J Gudelli/Telugucinema.com
Critic's Rating: 3/5
Friday 21 June 2019
Priyadarshi, Ananya Nagella, Jhansi, Gangavva
Ikat silk sarees and Pochampally sarees date back to over 100 years. These handloom sarees provided a livelihood for many families of weavers in 100s of villages in erstwhile Warangal and Nalgonda districts in the then Andhra Pradesh. Soon handlooms paved way for power looms and the lives of artisan weavers were changed forever. The manual Asu machine that required women to wind meters of silk yarn was another reason that led weavers to leave 'maggam' work as it affected the women's shoulders.
This is the backdrop one should keep in mind to understand Mallesham, a biopic on Chintakindi Mallesham, who was awarded Padma Shree in 2017 for inventing the 'Asu machine', which processes yarn mechanically, and that bettered the lives of many women in and around Pochampally.
Priyadarshi starrer Mallesham is a biopic directed by newcomer Raj that highlighted how a class 6 dropout invented 'Asu machine'. Mallesham has no formal education background to invent this, nor does he have deep pockets. Added to this, people termed him as a mad guy as he's obsessed to invent this machine from a very young age.
Director Raj begins the film in the 1980s and depicts the rural Telangana's milieu with the scenes of kid Mallesham playing 'golilu' with other kids, watching Chiranjeevi's films, etc. After establishing why the kid was forced to drop out from the school, the story has shifted its gears to 1990s when he grows into a man! Then the film focusses on his love, marriage, his various attempts to develop mechanical Asu machine, failures and his money issues. Frustrated with the lack of support from anyone, he even thinks of ending his life. With penury, all round, with an environment not conducive enough for invention, how he achieves his dream with grit and determination forms the rest of drama.
This is a biopic. But the director has focused more on documenting the social and cultural life of rural Telangana in the 1990s. We get to see "Peerila Panduga", an Islamic festival in which Hindus participate in a big way. However, all these are narrated in a slow pace. There is hardly any emotional grip in the first half. Towards the penultimate scene, the movie evokes required emotions rightly.
Priyadarshi's performance as Mallesham is the main highlight. His heft and sincere act have made a huge difference. His body language is perfect. Newcomer Ananya has expressive eyes and she has got that innocence of rural Telangana women of that generation. Jhansi as the mother who suffered her health due to manual processing of yarn has given a riveting performance. Gangavva evokes some laughter with her funny lines. Mark Robin's songs are good. Editing is a huge drawback as the length is a major issue.
Dialogues by Peddinti Ashok Kumar are thick with authentic Telangana accent. However, the majority of today's generation may not grasp every word of such rustic dialogue. As writer and director, Raj has put in sincere efforts, though his screenplay writing could have been better.
Mallesham is a biopic on Padma Shree Chintakindi Mallesham, a weaver's son and a class 6 dropout who became the inventor of the Asu machine. The film is a document of his life as well as of rural Telangana of the '90s.