Narthanasala Review: A farce in the name of comedy
Though Narthanasala attempts to narrate a gay comedy, it is bland and full of homophobic and offensive scenes
Friday 31 August 2018
Naga Shaurya, Kashmira Kulkarni, Yamini Bhaskar, Shivaji Raja, Jayaparakash Reddy, Satyam Rajesh, Ajay
Radha Krishna (Naga Shaurya) loves a girl named Manasa (Kashmira) but his father fixes his marriage with a girl named Satya Bhama (Yamini). When truth is revealed Sathya Bhama’s father threatens to kill him if he doesn’t marry her. To come out of this situation, he tells them that he likes men, not women. When Satya Bhama’s father (Jayaprakash Reddy) excuses him, Raja (Ajay) proposes to Radha Krishna. What happens next?
Nartanasala 1963 is regarded a great classic in Telugu cinema and it also won awards at International film festivals. NT Rama Rao played the role of Brihannala, Arjuna living in the garb of women as part of Pandava’s exile. Brihannala teaches music and dance. This film was based on part of Virat Parvam from The Mahabharata. In the latest Naga Shaurya starrer that has the same name, the protagonist poses as gay to avoid marriage to a girl his father fixed.
A character in the film says, “Ninnu choostente Narthanasala lo Brihannala gurtostunnadu. Akkada gay lover ledu neeku unnadu. Anthe teda” (Your situation reminds me of Brihannala in Narthanasala except that he didn’t have a male lover). This dialogue sums up the plot. The director must have thought - What if Brihannala gets a proposal from a guy? Although this twist seems right to weave a comedy out of it, the idea remains exciting on the paper, not on screen.
New director Srinivasa Chakravarthy begins with the story of Shivaji Raja wanting a daughter. But his wife gives birth to a son and he starts raising the son with women’s clothing. This thread is used only for some outlandish comedy, it doesn’t affect the main storyline. Later it is showed that the boy turns out to be a guy who trains women to be Jhansi Ranis, women who are good at self-defense. From here, the film turns into a total farce.
An actress as damsel in distress introduced. She wants to become nun to avoid harassment from a cheater (Satyam Rajesh). Enters the protagonist to teach this cheater a lesson. Around 15 to 20 minutes, we get to see the hero indulging in some silly comedy (beating him constantly). Satyam Rajesh cheats more than a dozen women and the hero makes all the woman slap him. By end of the scene, we get the feeling that the director is also slapping us.
Then some songs follow. Only at the interval we get to the main twist- hero rejecting a marriage fixed by his father and a gay guy proposes to him. In the entire second half, the scenes and situations rally around the hero and the guy.
Objectionable comedy is woven around homosexuals in the entire second half - calling them ‘Pothram’ (Stone mortar with a pestle, a kitchen item with a hole and the grinding stick) but in the climax hero tells a one-liner: “Homosexuals are also like us, we should treat them with affection and love, not ridicule them.” Ah!
The first half itself is so boring. Post-interval inane comedy rules. The film lacks sensible moments and is full of inane situations.
As far as performances are concerned, Ajay gives an honest performance. Naga Shaurya is plain. Both the heroines do not have much to do. Jayaprakash Reddy acts is in his usual style.
Mahati Sagar’s compositions are neat. “Egireney Manasu Seethakokalla” is a good melody. Cinematography and production values are decent. The new director fails to impress with his work.
Narthanasala has attempted to narrate a gay comedy but it turns out to be bland and full of objectionable (homophobic and offensive) and inane comedy scenes. A farce happens in the name of comedy.
Narthanasala review: 2/5 stars