In #WatchWithTNM this week, we revisit the Telugu film that broke the mould and remains popular till date.

Kshana Kshanam
Flix Tollywood Friday, July 03, 2020 - 17:50

It’s been nearly three decades since Ram Gopal Varma’s crime drama Kshana Kshanam released. The film, starring Sridevi, Venkatesh, Paresh Rawal and others, remains an RGV classic. After his sensational debut with Siva in 1989, the success of Kshana Kshanam established RGV as a promising neo-noir director. 

Though RGV went on to make several other crime dramas and gangster films, what sets apart Kshana Kshanam from the rest of his films is its minimalism. The entire story happens over two or three days, with very few characters. The director replicated the template in his heist drama Govinda Govinda in 1993, but the film received a mixed response. This is likely because the director used some supernatural elements in the story, which was quite different from what the audience expected of him.

Coming back to Kshana Kshanam, the film is about a bank heist, the chase for the loot and how Satya (Sridevi), an innocent woman, gets caught in the crossfire between the police and the thugs.

Unusual for its time, the story is told from the female character's perspective. When this is rare even now, imagine a film in the '90s breaking the mould! There aren't any special introduction shots for either of the leads. However, Sridevi's Satya is the first to make an entry, and Chandu (Venkatesh) is introduced towards the interval point without any of the mandatory elevation reserved for male stars. But though the film breaks some gender norms, Kshana Kshanam is still about a male saviour rescuing a damsel in distress. 

RGV, a self-confessed Sridevi fan, has included several songs to showcase his admiration for the actor. But in retrospect, these act as disruptions in a pacy thriller. Though Keeravani’s ‘Jaamu Rathiri’ is a soothing song with pleasant visuals, the other songs which follow come as unnecessary distractions. Particularly, the frequent songs in the second half make the viewer lose interest in the plot. It could also be that since the story takes place over 2-3 days, there is very little time to establish the romance between Chandu and Satya. So, the director may have used several songs to imply that they are a couple. However, with several things happening in the main storyline, the couple don’t talk about their feelings with each other and the songs are the only cues that the audience gets. 

Sridevi and Venkatesh are understated and subtle in their respective performances. In fact, Chandu, a small-time thief who doesn’t disclose his full identity, remains untrustworthy until the end. He keeps the audience and Satya guessing - will he flee with the loot or will he remain loyal? As soon as Chandu thinks his job is over and is certain that Satya is safe, he moves away without expecting anything. This is what Venkatesh does in most of his films, and as a Venkatesh fan in Brochevarevarura, Sree Vishnu follows suit.

Though the romance isn't at the centre of the story, the chemistry between the two actors ensures enough entertainment. While Satya profusely apologises to Chandu for not trusting him, and wants to continue with their relationship, the latter is not so keen. To express her love subtly, she tells Chandu, “My mother will be returning from the yatra, I will introduce you to her.” In response, Chandu chuckles and takes her in his arms. 

S Gopal Reddy's cinematography too deserves mention. The film has a lot of top angle shots during the chasing sequences, which establish the chaos and keep the film fast-paced. However, there are some hand-held, unconventional shots (probaby RGV’s idea) which are jarring to watch. 

If you are an RGV fan who has been disappointed by his recent films, you should revisit Kshana Kshanam to comfort yourself!


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