Anukokunda Oka Roju, An Underappreciated Gem Directed By Chandra Sekhar Yeleti, Film Companion

Chandra Sekhar Yeleti is what you might call a classy director. His films are the antithesis of everything Telugu cinema is known for. There are no grand hero-introduction scenes, no songs shot in foreign locations and no gravity-defying stunts. His protagonists are common men/women who are dealing with extraordinary circumstances. For example, a bunch of teenagers kidnap the most wanted terrorist to solve their money issues in his first movie, Aithe (a National Award winner); an ordinary man tries to sell land to clear his father’s dues in Okkadunnadu, a subdued version of S/O Satyamurthy; and a young man falls in love in an airport and tries to convince the girl to give him a chance in Prayanam. Though all his movies are wonderfully unique and interesting, my favourite is the 2005 release Anukokunda Oka Roju, written and directed by him and starring Charmme Kaur in one of her career-best performances, Jagapathi Babu and Shashank.

Charmme plays Sahasra, a 19-year-old aspiring singer who lives in Hyderabad with her father and step-mother. She goes to a party with her friend where her drink gets spiked. Strange things start happening around her. She witnesses someone get murdered, gets chased by a taxi driver named Rajesh (Shashank), who claims that she owes him money, and finally gets attacked by a group of people. Enter the ever-flamboyant Jagapathi Babu as Inspector Suresh, who loves to drink juice and is under suspension for letting go of a drugs racquet. As Suresh starts to put the pieces together, we realise that a day is missing in Sahasra’s life. Now it is up to her to retrace her steps with help from Rajesh and Suresh, and piece the missing day and her life back together.

As the film progresses we are introduced to a multitude of characters who play an important role in moving the story forward. The tuition teacher (played wonderfully by Harsha Vardhan), the grumpy grandfather who live in the same apartment complex as Sahasra, Rajesh’s brother and a theatre artist who hires Rajesh’s taxi form the missing links to solve the mystery. The scenes involving Rajesh, Harsha Vardhan and the theatre artist are a hoot. The screenplay is beautifully written, with nice touches sprinkled all over, and never takes the viewers for granted. We are presented with a string of clues as the movie progresses and the thrill of it all coming together is very real. Though the movie appears to be a mystery, there is a deeper dialogue about the perils of blind faith beneath it all. The ending of the movie is so clever and devoid of drama, that you cannot stop appreciating the creative mind at work. This movie is also remade in Hindi as Sunday, starring Ajay Devgn, but I definitely recommend watching the original.

Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.

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