The remake of the Malayalam film Angamaly Diaries, Falaknuma Das is a realistic crime drama that revolves around a testosterone-driven, eternally animalistic, mindless bunch of toxic men forever courting trouble. The most impressive thing about the movie is that it has been directed by the man who plays the protagonist Das himself, Vishwak Sen, who shot to fame after Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (the director of that movie Tharun Bhascker plays a cameo in this one and is a mighty fine actor himself.)
Directing his own character Das, though, Vishwak Sen has failed to grasp the essence of a plotline such as this, glamorising an otherwise annoying character needlessly. The movie charts the story of friends who grow up wanting to act like goons, start their own gang, clean up and start a business. They then get dragged into a needless chain of mishaps. But all through, their brush with the law along with the negative consequences is no coincidence but a byproduct of their hot-headed nature.
Das, for example, despite being a murder-accused, is saved by a dream of a girl who puts a lot on the line for him. And yet, a couple of days later, he is back to being his own animalistic ever-ready-for-a-fight self. If we separate the story from the implementation, the picturization is impressive. The goons are real, unwashed, usually inebriated, loitering in unhygienic by-lanes. There are no dons in bespoke suits with rockstar entry scenes. The fights are real, raw, unlike hyper-stylized modern-day movie stunts. Vishwak Sen deserves a lot of applause for pulling this off.
The cast, which also includes Uttej and Harshita Gaur, is a delight too, supporting the protagonist ably. But at the end of it all, as the hero on a festival day boasts about drinking to the brim with his friends as a cool thing, you wonder what is the point of this movie really? Does the ending indicate such a lifestyle and attitude is okay?
Does the climax indicate that this is how people are and this is just a narrative about such a bunch of people? In that case, why should the audience stay invested? It is not like we have a character like the one Dhanush plays in Vada Chennai to root for. The characters in this movie are unrelatable for most urban audiences except the ones whose lives are being narrated there - it is so easy to notice how feather-brained they are. Would I want them to get a happy ending?
All in all, this is a movie which is technically sound - crisp editing, nice frames and authenticity in acting/actors. Vivek Sagar gives us one really melodious song. But, as a whole the story didn't work for me. Yes, the dark humour at times is funny and the movie, overall is never boring. There are no sleazy scenes or item songs, no objectification of women, no needless hero-worship. It is a good transition from the usual Telugu cinema crime, a gentle drift towards neo-noir, heavily influenced by Tamil and Malayalam movies. But, the movie is neither an outright entertainer nor one driven by a message or by character development/transformations. The 12-13 year old kid who grows up to be the hero is pretty much the finished product. Years later, our protagonist remains the same, unchanged, same penchant to be a mob leader, same bellicose outlook towards life and same proclivity to drown himself in intoxication with his friends (as a kid it was lassi and paaya, that's about the only change).
The movie kind of underscores the theme that the law is ineffective as far as curtailing toxic men is concerned and no matter what, they will keep getting dragged into the whorls of crime, because these are men of thoughtless action. Why else do they deserve the ending the movie gives these characters? (Remember Arjun Reddy and the frustration you feel when a toxic masculine character gets a dream ending? ) This one's not that bad, but almost there.
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.