The theme of 'Mangalavaaram' is universal. You could narrate the same story in different backgrounds, irrespective of region.
The traditional myths surrounding Mangalavaaram (Tuesday) go back to the days of yore in India.
It is believed that a mysterious death on Tuesday would cast a shadow on the survival of the village.
Tuesday is generally viewed as Mangala in Hinduism, the deity of war and aggression. There are numerous tales connecting with the local deities in every region.
Director Ajay Bhupathi tells a similar one with the elements of intrigue and mystery.
A whistleblower exposes illicit relationships in a village. Subsequent deaths remain a mystery for police. No one could trace the culprit behind these murders.
Three decades ago, during the 90s, a young girl named Shailu (played by Payal Rajput) was subjected to social isolation. The vehement dislike shown by her greedy father pushed her into psychological disorder.
This is when her college teacher (Ajmal Amir) gets close to her. When she feels that intimacy and love could end her psychological suffering, the teacher cheats on her and marries another woman. The distraught Shailu takes turns with every man she looks at in the village.
Will she ever find solace in her suffering? What connection does she have with the mysterious murders in the village? — is the story.
The theme of Mangalavaaram is, of course, universal. You could narrate the same story in different backgrounds, irrespective of region.
The central structure of the film is about unlawful relationships, the distraught girl Shailu (who suffers from hypersexual disorder), and the mystery murders on Tuesdays.
Director Ajay Bhupathi narrates the story against the backdrop of coastal Andhra, especially the Godavari district. However, he should have shown some variety while capturing the region — its people, the culture, and some intriguing aspects of local legends, which might amp up the curiosity.
The characters in Mangalavaaram — be it Muralidhar Goud, police inspector Nandita Swetha, RMP doctor Ravindra Vijay, or Chaitanya Krishna as Zamindar — look far from reality and are a complete misfit.
How does the audience expect Muralidhar Goud to speak the Godavari dialect?
Nandita Swetha should have shown more intensity for the cop role.
Chaitanya Krishna doesn’t really pack a punch as Zamindar because the role demands more aggression and an intimidating personality.
Ajay Ghosh and his blind assistant Puli have a perfect blend of humour. Ajay Ghosh’s performance as womaniser Kaasi Raju is so refined.
He perfectly aces the dialogues, connotations and funny banter common to the local land. Both Ajay and Puli find the right nick by keeping the audience engaged in most parts of the film.
Sritej as Guraja is also impressive.
Divya Pillai, as the wife of Zamindar, is good.
Payal Rajput, yet again, brings the memories of RX 100 (2018) to audiences. After an Oscar-level interval bang, audiences are surprised to see Payal rather than taking delight in her beauty on the screen.
Probably, this is when you realise Ajay Bhupathi’s forte is not mystery thrillers but romance.
Mangalavaaram makes you sit for two long hours just for the twists in the climax. A lot of scenes need to be trimmed to make the story crisp.
Full marks to cinematography by Dasaradhi Sivendra. The chase sequence in the village where Guraja (Sritej) and his gang are involved is amazingly shot.
And some of the scenes at the Banana plantation are well-picturised.
The music composed by Ajaneesh Loknath is decent.
In the two-hour-twenty-minute runtime, you can take a nap and then experience the Oscar-level twists in the climax.
Mangalavaaram might recall the television series “Marmadesam” and other mystery crime tales from your childhood days.
However, the film is a miscast of characters — except for Payal Rajput, Ajay Ghosh, and a few others.
(Views expressed here are personal.)