Of late, rural Telangana is the flavour of Telugu cinema and the stories are as varied as they come. Abhinav Danda who has written, edited and directed Sathi Gani Rendu Ekaralu (Sathi’s two acres of land) presents a tapestry of colourful characters in quirky situations. Hilarious moments stem from outlandish situations as well as day-to-day situations. Streaming on Aha (Telugu), this film has an ensemble cast led by Jagadeesh Prathap Bandari (of Pushpafame), Vennela Kishore, Raj Tirandasu, Bithiri Sathi, Aneesha and Mohana. Without the pressures of having to pander to fan clubs of stars, Abhinav keeps his focus on the oddball characters in this dark comedy.
Sathi Gani Rendu Ekaralu (Telugu)
Cast: Jagadeesh Prathap Bandari, Raj Tirandasu, Vennela Kishore
Music: Jay Krish
Storyline: A farmer who is in desperate need for money for his infant daughter’s treatment chances upon a briefcase with uncut diamonds. A journey of confusion, violence and comedy ensues.
Streaming on: Aha Telugu
The title and the introductory scene indicate that everything in this film will revolve around Sathi (Jagadeesh)’s two acres of land. We see Sathi as a young lad listening to his grandfather (Sudhakar Reddy) talk passionately about the ancestral land and how he wants his grandson to use it wisely. The piece of land is the only immovable asset to the grown-up Sathi, now married to Andamma (Mohana) with two children.
There is a tearjerker story — all is not well with Sathi’s infant daughter and he needs a huge sum for her medical treatment. But this is conveyed to us through a hilarious situation in which a camera crew from an NGO prods Andamma to weep appropriately for the camera and seek funds. As the story unravels, Abhinav keeps unspooling such laugh-aloud moments without taking away the gravity of the situation. But this isn’t a regular weepy drama. Meanwhile the smooth-talking sarpanch (Muralidhar Goud) also eyes Sathi’s land.
Out of the blue, something happens in the non-descript village that changes Sathi’s life. And it has to do with uncut diamonds. Sathi Gani… takes a different turn from this point and through Sathi’s journey, we meet the other pivotal characters — Anji (Raj Tirandasu), his lady love Sangeetha (Aneesha), the local cop Niranjan (Bithiri Sathi), a mysterious character ‘Rider’ (Vennela Kishore), a speech impaired eye witness to an inadvertent crime, a height-challenged businessman who deals with diamonds, and so on.
Some characters react to situations with unintentional violence which affects other characters and the story. Relationship dynamics reveal why the sarpanch disapproves of his daughter’s choice of life partner and the backstory of Andamma and Sathi. Look out for a particularly long scene involving Sathi, his squabbling-sobbing wife and son Lokesh (child actor Rasool). The characterisation of the child actor makes all the difference, adding to the humour quotient.
Vishwanath Reddy’s camera captures the lush green fields, the dusty brown lane that circles the fields and the brightly coloured Telangana homes. The stark colours, particularly green, soon become a small plot point. Meanwhile, Jay Krish’s music becomes a foil for this black comedy.
In a little under two hours, Sathi Gani… sustains interest though nothing outlandish happens in the later portions. The drama fizzles out after a point and the film never really becomes the wacky crime comedy caper it sets out to be. However, the performances by Jagadeesh, Vennela Kishore, Raj and Aneesha ensure that we stay invested in the film.