Samajavaragamana Movie Review: A Delightful Subversion of The Family Entertainer Genre

Naresh VK and Sree Vishnu bring the roof down in one of the funniest Telugu films to come out in a long time
Samajavaragamana Movie Review
Samajavaragamana Movie ReviewFilm Companion

Director: Ram Abbaraju

Writers: Bhanu Bogavarapu, Nandu Saviriganam, Ram Abbaraju 

Cast: Sree Vishnu, Reba Monica John, Naresh VK, Srikanth Iyengar, Vennela Kishore

Samajavaragama puts the family in the family entertainer genre. For decades, Telugu cinema has produced numerous films in the name of ‘family entertainers’. Some of them can be family-friendly, meaning they are free of obscene content and are suitable for all ages. However, the majority of them—take two of the biggest hits of the year, Waltair Veerayya and Veera Simha Reddy, for instance—are not family entertainers in any way. Samajavaragamana, on the other hand, is a true-blue, top-tier ‘family entertainer’ because the very core of the story is about family ties and relationships. Let me tell you, the film is not about kutumba viluvulu (family values), but about practical concepts like the Indian family tree, bloodlines, and familial relationships, quite literally. There hasn’t been a Telugu film that dealt with this central conflict, making Samajavaragamana a refreshing Telugu outing in a long time. I’m refraining from revealing the core conflict because the entire second half of the film rests on this single thread, and it’s best enjoyed going in with as little information about it as possible.

A still from Samajavaragamana
A still from Samajavaragamana

For a film that banks too much on one single idea, Samajavaragamana is cautious enough to avoid monotony. It’s a learning director Ram Abbaraju might have picked up from the experience of his debut, the humourous yet frustrating Vivaha Bhojanambu (2021), which operated only on one idea: an orphan who wants to get married creates a fake family to win the approval of his girlfriend’s father and the chaos that ensues when both the families get stuck together when the lockdown is announced. It was an uproarious idea that, I felt, got tedious after a point. Ram Abbaraju ensures there is no room for redundancy this time by weaving multiple, hilarious subplots within the narrative. 

The motive for the large part of the first half in Samajavaragamana, for instance, is Balu (Sree Vishnu), the man of the house, forcing his father (Naresh VK) to complete his graduation. Yes, you read that right. A legal clause states that only his father’s graduation lets them inherit their ancestral properties and seeing Balu compel his father to study is a hilarious recurring gag. The son is the father of this house and this smart, witty subversion results in some of the most playful moments we have seen in Telugu cinema in recent times. For instance, when Balu drops his father off at the examination centre, he promises his father he’ll gift him a new bike if he passes the exams this time. The roles and responsibilities of the father and son are interchanged in so many sequences and every single gag lands perfectly. Naresh VK, sporting cool t-shirts, is undoubtedly the MVP of the film and he brings the roof down in numerous sequences—with Jersey’s iconic train scene recreation and an engagement sequence being the most amusing ones of the lot. Sree Vishnu, who is very much in his comfort zone here, is a joy to watch as the dutiful son who is always uneasy, creating countless laugh-out-loud moments. The beauty is that this wonderful father-son element is only a subplot, with most of the fun being spun around the complicated love story between Balu and Sarayu (Reba Monica John). Ram Abbaraju clearly has a zone. He puts his confused, helpless protagonist among well-meaning but oddball characters in a madhouse. Samajavaragamana thrives in this space.

A still from Samajavaragamana
A still from Samajavaragamana

The biggest strength of Samajavaragamana is its writing. While Bhanu Bogavarapu’s story is quirky and charming, to begin with, Ram Abbaraju’s screenplay creates a narrative that has ample scope to set up numerous set pieces and impressionable characters, which Nandu Savirigana further uplifts with his dialogues. The conversations flow like a breeze, and so many times, a joke is followed by another joke; Nandu hits it out of the park with a gag about PVR. And then there’s an exchange about overpriced F&B in multiplexes. You see, the dialogues and situations work because they manage to crack the fine balance between being relatable and over-the-top.

Samajavaragamana is not flawless. The gags do start to become a tad redundant because they are overdone towards the end, and the film doesn't know where to stop. The resolution and a sudden twist at the end feel conveniently placed. A serious monologue at the end feels like it belongs to a different movie. Thankfully, these shortcomings don’t taint Samajagavaragamana at all because the laughs it delivers overpower them. The film is truly one of the funniest films to come out of Telugu cinema in a long time. I’d rather let you enjoy it instead of explaining why it’s great because we all know what EB White said about humour. “Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You understand it better but the frog dies in the process.” Samajavaragamana is a film that needs to be enjoyed in a packed house.

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