dear comrade

Dear Comrade

Fight for what you love” says the tagline. The makers have us believing that this is about a person, while it actually is about passion. Also, identifying and igniting that passion. I like the fact that the film deceives us like this. But there’s a problem with how it is done. For the sake of this gradual redirection, the writing sort of underplays that love. We don’t “see” (therefore, feel) how much Lilly likes cricket. Such writing can also be seen as mature and progressive compared to spoon-feeding, but a lot about this film has also put me in an old-school zone. The screenplay is fair, there’s logical sense to the beats, but there’s nothing emotionally substantial to fill the in-betweens. Changes in these characters are told, rather than felt. And whatever’s being told is mostly generic too. Like Bobby’s journey is a series of tumblr-ish clichés, ranging from discovering Art in Nature™ to travelling to monasteries in the north. Lilly’s introduction as a cricketer is another done-to-death scenario.

But we have a terrific Rashmika holding her ground as someone who’s looking for her own perspective. Bharat Kamma has clearly spent shaping Lilly more than Bobby. Moments like the one where she relives a romantic memory, make her stand out for being a female character who has her own takeaways from a bygone relationship. This is not what is seen in the mainstream, and this is the breath of fresh air I kept looking for throughout the film. Justin Prabhakaran’s royal flush of a soundtrack only added to my hunger for heavier moments. Vijay Deverakonda is clearly on a path of trademarking the vulnerable hothead role. Bobby can be seen as overdoing his rebel-with-a-cause stance, but Vijay’s consistently earnest dialogue delivery, balances it off.

The point from where we get to know of Lilly’s trauma (through a corny flashback) is when the film starts saying something. This is also where I decided to stick with these characters irrespective of their superficially depicted journeys so far. I could also say that this is because of the time we have spent with them. The film then goes onto sell its final idea very well. Of how everyone needs a comrade in life. Someone strong, who can be their ally in fighting the world. And please, this is not to be misinterpreted as a male-saviour story. I could look at it one way only – It is showing a friend, who happens to be a male, pushing a woman to fight for (and by) herself. To my eyes, that their story had the context of romance, is a separate thread, one that is detached from her choice to fight trauma. I am also aware of the argument that there’s a lot of aggression focused towards the victim to come out and tell her story, but I do believe some people can need that push to even think about themselves. So I’m with the film on that front.

I like it that Dear Comrade has given me all of this to think and talk about, but I have had to also sit through “chaala” generic stretches to get here. I am looking forward to what Kamma has in store ahead, especially if he can learn to flesh out emotional beats.


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