In ‘Adbhutham’, Teja Sajja and Shivani Rajasekhar play the lead characters, Surya and Vennela, who are destined to never be together.

Adbhutham review A time travel film forced into a stereotypical love storyYouTube/DisneyPlus Hotstar
Flix Tollywood Friday, November 19, 2021 - 20:05

Adbhutham directed by Malik Ram is a time travel-based Telugu film, following in the footsteps of the blockbuster Aditya 369, which was released way back in 1991. The movie stars actors Teja Sajja and Shivani Rajasekhar in the lead. The film’s story is written by Prashanth Varma of Awe fame. Usually, time travel plotlines are complex to understand, and I am still processing the timeline of events in this film. However, the fact that the director does not try to simplify the plot and spoon-feed the audience is a welcome change. Instead, the filmmaker has relied on the audience and assumed that they have watched films with such concepts. 

Adbhutham has several twists and turns that kept me surprised. Just when you think that you are probably getting the hang of it, there is another twist, which is exciting and makes you curious. However, the story is forced into a stereotypical love story, owing to the constraints of being a mainstream film, which ruins this pleasure.  

In the film, Teja Sajja plays the role of Surya, a TV anchor, while Shivani Rajasekhar plays the role of Vennela, a student who aspires to become an automobile engineer. Her ambition is to study in Germany to achieve her goal. By accident, Surya and Vennela end up having a phone conversation. This soon progresses into a relationship. But as their names suggest: Surya (which means sun) and Vennela (which means moon) cannot be at the same place at the same time.

The two might be destined not to be together, but do they manage to change their destiny, or does their relationship remain a failure? This forms the story. 

As explained in the Hollywood blockbuster Avengers: End Game, a person from the future cannot change the past and alter history. In Adbhutham, too, they use the same theory to explain time travel. 

While debutant Shivani gives a decent performance, Teja’s acting is amateur and unconvincing. Imagine, if somebody is going to kill themselves, because they are simply tired of living, would they bother to check a notification on their phone? Well, Teja as Surya does just this, though frustratedly. The staging of this scene is very poor. 

Vennela’s grandmother, a stereotypical grandmother who spends most of her time reading mythologies like The Ramayana, just happens to be very familiar with the concept of time travel. This sticks out like a sore thumb. 

Satya Akkala and Sivaji have prominent roles in the film. While Satya plays the role of Prasad, a friend and colleague of Surya’s; Sivaji plays the male lead’s father. Satya tries to salvage the initial parts of the film with his comedy dialogues, but it doesn’t really work. There is the line where Satya says: “Behave like a mature man, you are not a child artiste anymore.” This is meant to be funny because before becoming an actor Satya was a child artiste. Tragically, this line was already used in the trailer. 

The other comedy element that the filmmaker has tried to introduce is through the character of a potential groom for Vennela. He is someone who is dark and speaks broken English. The humour based on physical appearance is purely racist. How can such an offensive thing be funny? Experimenting with time travel, but not moving past this type of so-called comedy?  

In Adbhutham, the director has focused mostly on the concept of time travel. While that is sound, the weak storyline, subpar cast, bad performances, underwhelming music and an unconvincing climax that defies logic, make it a mediocre film.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

Watch the trailer of Adbhutham

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