Tollywood
Sirish’s improved dialogue-delivery and body language make this his best Telugu film to date.

Okka Kshanam made me think about the importance of a minute. What could a minute do in a person’s life? In case of medical emergencies, every second counts. On the face of it, Okka Kshanam seems like a romance film that absorbs the qualities of a science fiction thriller. But, it’s actually the other way around.

Director Vi Anand, who turned a supernatural tale on its head with a romantic twist (Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada), is back with a film that takes a leaf out of parallel happenings.

A couple of years ago, Selvaraghavan made a Tamil film named Irandaam Ulagam. It was a movie based on the concept of parallel universes. Everything about the film felt wrong. He took a wonderful subject and destroyed it. So, in every sense, Irandaam Ulagam was trashy.

Now, Anand walks a similar path with his latest thriller. However, we aren’t transported to another universe here. We are, instead, taken to two women whose lives look like the copies of the same book (you can say different editions though). The initial portions where Jyotsna (Surbhi) peeps into the rooms of Swathi’s (Seerat Kapoor) apartment are directly borrowed from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 thriller Rear Window.

Even in the Hollywood movie, the protagonist (played by James Stewart) is hurt and can’t walk around much. As a result, to cure boredom, he watches his neighbours through his window. Jyotsna does the same thing in the Telugu movie. She’s seen with a cast on her ankle in one of her first scenes. And, then, a couple of minutes later, when Jeeva (Allu Sirish) questions her about her routine, she introduces him to the world of people-watching via her balcony.

Srinivas Avasarala, who usually stars as the comedy-guy, takes a U-turn to play a supporting role which has shades of various colours, in Okka Kshanam. His brooding looks are as good as his funny lines. The exchanges between Srinivas and Sirish are what make the film work to a large extent since this sets the tone for the second-hour-and-twenty-minutes.

The character that actually sells the film to us is played by Jayaprakash. He appears as a professor who explains the theory behind parallel lives and gives us examples of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. By the time the movie reaches this point, we’ve already seen many interesting moments related to the two main screen couples – Sirish and Surbhi; Srinivas and Seerat. We’re waiting to see what’s going to happen next.

Just like Sirish and Surbhi in the movie, we’re shifting in our seats. That’s when the film takes an insipid shape and shifts to action mode. Should the hero bash the goons and save the day? Is that what a “commercial movie” is all about?

The action sequences of the last half-hour are not at all required. Still, Sirish’s improved dialogue-delivery and body language make this his best Telugu film to date. Surbhi and Seerat, too, put in convincing performances. Nevertheless, the best asset of Okka Kshanam is wrapped in its writing which leaves us a drab ending despite the great moments in the film.