Middle Class Melodies (MCM) is true to its name in every sense, it takes the single notes from different aspects of the middle-class life and puts them together in satisfying sequence – the melody.
Debutante director Vinod Ananthoju takes a while in his world building but ensures there is no lag that lets the audience disconnect. Right at the start there are some beautiful comic moments from everyday situations like a housewarming ceremony and a catering service that ensures the laughs per frame is not impacted. The conversation around the cow and its holy dung that is crucial to the ceremony, the grandmother pulleyed up to the first floor along with the almirah and other furniture ( this is funny while also ironic considering her role in the state of affairs). The young scion of a small hotel who has dreams of starting his own hotel in the town of Guntur. His perceived USP i.e., Bombay Chutney which remains a McGuffin till the ending ‘Newton under the tree’ moment of the film.
Anand Deverakonda as Raghava seems to have occupied the other end of the hero spectrum when compared to his elder brother. His lead character is more realistic, frustrated at life’s challenges and has seemingly lesser (when looked from outside) but concrete dreams. He fits perfectly into the world of MCM. Almost perfectly, if you disregard his dialect which strikes out as being from a different geography. Varsha Bollama plays Sandhya and in a flashback sequence has a 10-minute track with Raghava that reminds one of Ram and Jaanu from the classrooms of 96 (Jaanu in Telugu). She is as independent as a Telugu movie heroine can get, batting here eyelashes at the hero but also putting him down and making him confront the harsh realities of life.
There is another love story running as a sub-plot, that of the hero’s friend and a girl working in a mobile store. This sub plot does not get overshadowed by the overall story but in the limited screen time it gets, is etched out with intrinsic detail. Another sub plot which has limited run time but conveys a lot, like a self-sufficient short film by itself is of a milk man and his granddaughter in the village. In a way, MCM does not have one hero but many characters who are the heroes of their own stories when not portraying a supporting role in the bigger storyline.
The surprise acts of the movie are however the 2 roles that are stereotyped to death in mainstream Telugu cinema, the fathers of the lead pair. Goparaju Ramana as Kondala Rao and Prem Sagar as Nageswar Rao get the best written parts. They are placed in the generic situations of the movie world, but their portrayals are unique. Their love for their children is not the sole purpose of their characters’ existence. There are shades of disappointment, anger, survival skills, a typical middle-class stress on stability and lot more. Not having recognizable faces play these recognizable roles seems to be a master stroke in casting.
Middle Class Melodies works because of its relatability and likeable characters. It is the latest occupant of the slowly but surely expanding middle of the road movies in the Telugu film industry that started with the likes of c/o Kancharapalem and Uma Maheswara Ugra Rupasya.
Captive of the 24 frames and admirer of the written word. If it is not on the silver screen or on the pages of a paperback, it might as well not exist.