To start with, Nartanasala, directed by debut director Srinivas Chakravarthi, has a title that in itself is a misnomer. Alluding to Arjuna’s one-year exile as Brihannala – a famed mythological story – the movie steps on the wrong note quite early and continues to tread it. Nartanasala depicts a young man (Naga Shaurya) who trains women on how to protect themselves (because that should show us how progressive the movie-makers are).
One imagines that this is how the discussion in the storyboarding session went:
‘Let’s make a movie.’
‘But, we don’t have a story.’
‘Well, let’s make fun of homosexuality.’
‘Telugu films generally do it. What’s new?’
‘Let’s make an entire movie out of making fun of homosexuality.’
‘Doesn’t sound convincing. Will that give us enough cheap laughs?
’Let’s call gay people as trans people and then we will have more material.’
‘Stop right there. I’m in!’
If we had a dollar for every offensive dialogue in the movie about homosexuality or trans people, we would have enough money to start an LGBTQ awareness campaign. This apology of a story pits disinterested, staid acting against garishly loud dialogues, churning out the kind of tasteless cinema that will make you question your life choices.
The hypocrisy of the movie-makers can be clearly seen at the fag end of the movie when there is a "holy" line on how it is not "his fault to be born like that". What in the world does that even mean?!
Director Srinivas Chakravarthi weaves everything around the hero (surprise, surprise). Kashmira and Yamini, after the first few minutes, are shortchanged and reduced to props. Shivaji Raja, as the hero's dad and JP have substantial roles, largely meant to be rib-tickling, but not.
Nartanasala uses a title that many Telugu movie lovers have fond memories of and reduces it to a crass, ill-informed, distasteful screenplay that shows how regressive some of the people in this industry are.
A bunch of lazily directed scenes hashed together, the movie drags on for two hours, making you question why someone like Naga Shaurya, whose career started off with such lovely movies like Chandamama Kathalu and Oohalu Gusagusalade has reduced himself to doing this. If our heroes do not take a stance against movie-scripts of this nature, do we have hope?
Terribly outdated dialogues apart, the movie should get a special jury award for costumes, the glare of which will blind you if you forget your shades. Avoid this movie. Kerala can make better use of your money!
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.