National Award winner, Mohan Krishna Indraganti's Sammohanam is one of those movies that blur the line between realism and cinema. In the film, this is achieved by making one of the lead characters a cinema personality even within the movie.
Aditi Rao Hydariâ€™s Sameera is a gorgeous, but vulnerable heroine, who develops feelings for Vijay (Sudheer Babu), a cartoonist, who has a stereotypical hatred for cinema and people associated with it. Nevertheless, when a part of a movie is shot in Vijayâ€™s house, Sameera seeks his help in correcting her Telugu diction, and the two hit it off straight away. Amidst a colourful palette of frames and a gently lilting OST (all credits to the music director, Vivek Sagar of Pelli Choopulu fame), the two enjoy some poignantly romantic moments.
While Vijay is enchanted by her long after the shooting is wrapped up, Sameeraâ€™s life hits a turmoil unbeknownst to Vijay. That is also when the good work of the first half is undone by a filmmaker who promises to offer something different, but probably ran out of resolve.
Sammohanam is a story of two contrasting halves. The first half looks like it was made by an auteur, with a soft touch, the camera frames focussing ever so gently on Aditiâ€™s outspoken eyes and Sudheer Babuâ€™s diffident charm.
The second half is rough, didactic and unpolished, lazy writing exchanging creativity for over-simplification. It's as if the gentle, soft-spoken young man who was too embarrassed to ask a star for a selfie with his friends, was suddenly reminded that this is a Telugu movie which needs a macho, egoistic, chauvinistic hero.
A long narration by Sameeraâ€™s friend about her past â€“ a bad execution largely because a sub-plot should be enacted, not narrated to an audience, who have invested so much in that tale â€“ brings the story to a swift climax.
Sammohanam, which means 'enchantment', is not over-the-top and almost takes your heart before falling apart and disappointing as it comes to a close. It is saved nevertheless, by three aspects â€“ wonderful music, a tour de force performance by Naresh, and Aditi Raoâ€™s mesmerising presence, which is accentuated by the exotic quality of her dialogues â€“ talk about turning Telugu cinemaâ€™s general weakness, heroine unable to speak in proper diction, into a strength.
Naresh is epic as the film-crazy father of Vijay, capable of acting and enacting with great charisma. Pavithra Lokesh as Vijayâ€™s mother is understatedly brilliant and the couple pull off the set-piece of a family that could let a movie star be infatuated with them. Vindaâ€™s cinematography brings out the right colours, pleasing and aesthetic at all times.
Sammohanam couldâ€™ve been so much more if the acclaimed makers had showed a little more patience with the script, invested a few more intricacies into it. For now, it is a half-decent cup of coffee, without the aroma that brings the monsoons into your living room.
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.