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Balagam Excavates The Humour & Pathos Of Death



Balagam(Prime Video)

Rating: ** ½

A death in the family  triggers  off a chain  of reactions, some genuine , largely  artificial. Writer-director  Venu Yeldandi  tries to  capture all the humour and hysteria ,all the bickering and the playacting that are unleashed  keeping in mind the solemnity  of the  occasion.

The  trouble  is , the  mood of exacerbated emotions, floods  into the narration so torrentially it is hard to tell which  of the two is  more hysterical: the  characters  or the  way they are  projected into the tragic circumstance .

  Everyone is hamming. So  is  that  the chosen mood of the characters? Or are these simply bad actors  giving bad performances making the characters look more  melodramatic  than they are meant to be?

 The  shrieking and  breastbeating are enjoyable for  a while.  But then the theatrics refuse to go  anywhere. The  interweaving   of the characters’ bereavement,fake  or  otherwise, lacks any shred of grace.It is  essentially a  free for all, and fun only if  you are  a  fan of   the  Ramprasad Ki Tervi brand  of  ghoulish humour.

Sadly, the death-related jokes in Balagam  are  more foolish than ghoulish, more madcap than  sensitive.  The writer-director is convinced that one death can set off a chain of events and that one person’s death  is  an occasion for the family to lose all self- control and squabble  dramatically.A daughter-in-law  brings  up her husband’s share of  the family property.  But  in time at  all,she is sobbing in repentance .

When  the raunchy grandfather Komurayya(Sudhakar Reddy) dies suddenly, he  leaves behind a family  of belligerent relatives. The only one who exercises remarkable selfcontrol in the  midst of the   loud melodrama is  Komurayya’s son Ailayaa(Jairam). This is  the only performance that  shows any restraint.  Every other actors pulls out all stops, drenching the  drama in a torrent  of  theatrics.

The  deadman’s grandson Sailu(Priyadarshi) is  grieving more  about his interrupted marriage  than his  grandfather. Towards  the  end, his   priorities change. Sailu suddenly  becomes the weeping warrior  . The family shrieks,weeps, shrieks  some more. There is no element of a deeper understanding  of tragedy and bereavement  beyond the  surface squabbles and  bickering.

Finally  it is up to a sulking crow which flies  overhead  in sullen protest,  to put an end to this family’s wailing woes. Balagam tries hard to be funny  about bereavement.  But the thing about family tragedies is that they are amusing only to  the  outsider. In this case ,even objective bereavement  is  a  far cry.

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