Onamalu is the story of a teacher Narayana Rao played by Rajendra Prasad. His return to India after a long gap and the changes he sees along with a recollection of the past, simultaneously, is what basically the film is all about.
The story, through this character of Rajendra Prasad, deals with the serious issue of the eradication of the village culture and migration of village people to cities over the decades.
It’s a one man show basically. Rajendra Prasad delivers a master class once again as far as acting goes. While in few romantic scenes it feels odd looking at his age old mannerism but barring those few moments rest all is just awesome.
His effortless climatic speech building all the rage is just award worthy.
Rest of the film contains lots of child actors and character actors they all do their parts well.
Veteran character actors like Giri Babu, Chalapathi Rao etc are used perfectly and they fit the characters very well too.
Kalyani playing the wife of Rajendra Prasad has very limited role.
Once Rajendra Prasad reaches India the film is clearly cut into two halves. One, his anticipation of going to his village and the memories attached to that village showcased in series of flashbacks. The other half is his reaction once he reaches his village and its present condition in contrast with its past glory.
The director maintains a consistent heavy narration through out with light moments in between. The past glory is shown in such a way that it almost feels too good to be true. The bonding, the togetherness, a feeling of oneness among all, something that is truly missing in today’s mundane round the clock life. It feels like a dream making us question did we really have a past like that. It almost looks too silly making it hard to believe that such people really exist but that’s another thing that the director gets right, the old world charm through such silly looking yet heart touching characters.
In the second half all the color, brightness and liveliness is gone. People have become mechanical with no one caring the other. No relations, no respect etc are shown in a very realistic manner. The way the crescendo build towards the climax and the final outburst by Rajendra Prasad truly brings tears in one’s eye.
So the film has no problems at all? Well it has its problem with the preaching’s that happens through the character of the teacher played by Rajendra Prasad. You know whenever he has to talk about an issue he will give you a lecture. At a point it even feels like things are designed to foster all these sermons delivered by the principle character. But in the end it all feels justified with the kind of emotional uplift one feels either knowingly or unknowingly. And because the film manages to engage us emotionally this one deserves a watch.
Direction by Kranthi Madhav is very good. He showcases the realities, captures the village spirit and extracts the performance really well. Also dialogues by Kadhir Babu are wonderful. The sharp and caustic tone of the dialogues hits one like a ton of bricks.
Music and background score by Koti is superb, especially the background score is really awesome and helps elevate a lot of scenes.
Bottom-line: Get admitted to this class, it is a class which we need at this hour.