Story: Aasi (Panja Vaisshnav Tej) has been in love with Bebamma (Krithi Shetty) since their childhood. But it is more than her father Rayanam (Vijay Sethupathi) that threatens to form a chasm between the lovers.
Review: Buchi Babu Sana’s maiden film Uppena tells the often told tale of class divide and how it threatens to rip apart two youngsters in love. With films like Dorasaani and Colour Photo also bringing such stories to the forefront, the debutant director does his best to set the film apart. But does he do enough?
Aasi (Panja Vaisshnav Tej) is a fisherman whose life revolves around the sea, his father and the love of his life. As a kid he falls head over heels for Kotagiri Sangeeta, fondly called as Bebamma (Krithi Shetty) and has since loved her unconditionally. He follows her around like a lost puppy and doesn’t even hope that she notices him someday. However, he does want to experience love like Romeo-Juliet, Laila-Majnu and Devadas-Paro, basically ‘ado madiri ga’. When he says that, you think you know where this story is going. Especially so, when Rayanam (Vijay Sethupathi) is introduced as Bebamma’s steely-eyed father. His aim is to set up a fishing yard and safeguard his old-school beliefs at any cost. But Buchi Babu manages to surprise you with how this tale ends.
Aasi and Bebamma’s love story, while predictable, manages to elicit a smile with the innocence of it all. The former is easy with his fists and the latter, with her smile. Early on in the story, Buchi carefully plans a Chekhov’s Gun to hint how it will end. And despite the numerous memes that also found their way online in the recent past hinting you off, what you don’t expect is a happy ending. What is also not expected is that in a film industry that celebrates toxic masculinity, there comes along a director that questions what masculinity truly is. Despite the commercial set-up, Buchi Babu does make you wonder about gender tropes.
The debutants Vaisshnav and Krithi manage to pull off the intricacies of their characters well for the most part. Even if there are moments when they falter, with Vaisshnav faltering more than Krithi, they more than make up for it. Vijay Sethupathi is flawless as a man set in his beliefs and someone who’s used to getting his way. And despite Uppena being as predictable as they come, with the beats seeming familiar, Buchi Babu manages to execute it well, keeping the viewer engaged. Devi Sri Prasad’s music and cinematography by Shamdat add on to the film’s overall mood, even if Navin Nooli could’ve been sharper with the editing.
Watch Uppena this weekend if love stories are your cup of tea, don’t go in expecting too much though.
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