Sunday, May 26, 2024

Yashoda: A decent flick with jaw-dropping moments

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Amartya Smaran

Yashoda, produced by Sridevi movies, directed by the duo Hari-Harish stars Samantha Ruth Prabhu in the leading role. We’ve got super talented actors like Unni Mukundan, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Rao Ramesh, Murali Sharma, and Sampath Raj playing supporting characters. Mani Sharma adds that extra punch with his music throughout the film. He understands his job as a music director so well that he uses his virtuosity only when it is needed the most.

Superstar Samantha-starrer, Yashoda is based on real-life incidents centred around surrogacy, and how the greedy medical mafia thrives on helpless underprivileged women by luring them into the procedure.The film doesn’t dilly-dally around in the first few minutes.It makes it clear to the audience that the lead is a surrogate mother in her third month, and when the doctor checks on her, she tells her that the baby is perfectly healthy and needs good care.

The doctor, in a very crass manner, reminds her  that she is responsible for the well-being of the baby who would one day end up in the hands of an influential family. Therefore, she tells her to go to “Eva facility” headed by Madhu(Varalaxmi Sarathkumar), where other surrogate mothers are taken care of.

Eva facility is nothing like you’d imagine. It is like this broken soul of someone who’s extremely sad, but always carries a smile on their face. To the outside world, it is a great clinic that takes care of these women, but the place is nothing short of hell. In short, it is reminiscent of the Bigg Boss house, but for pregnant women. Get it?

The dialogues penned by Pulagam Chinnarayana and Challa Bhagyalakshmi land perfectly. For instance, on the very first day at the centre, when Yashoda is taken aback by the facilities provided, she asks Madhu(Varalaxmi Sarathkumar) if everything there belongs to her. To which Madhu replies, “Yes! Everything… except the baby, Yashoda!” You see, this one dialogue covertly takes a shot at the concept of surrogacy.

Known for his colorful body of work, cinematographer M. Sukumar makes use of the camera to exactly replicate the emotional state of the actors. For example, in the opening scene where the Hollywood actress Olivia in the film trips on the stairs, the point-of-view shot gives us the idea of how intoxicated she is. The superimposed shots of the 3-month-pregnant Yashoda(Samantha) leaving her house for the facility, visually represents the big transition that is about to happen in her life. M. Sukumar shines in framing every sequence in the film, be it the indoor scenes where everything looks bright and reflects the shady nature of Eva facility or the intense chase sequences in the outskirts. While all this is happening, the film cuts back and forth between an investigation carried out by police officials probing into the sudden death of a business tycoon and his model girlfriend, which makes for an engrossing narrative.

Someone asked me at the theatre, “How did I like the film?” I said except for the first few minutes, the rest of the first half barring the interval block, was sloppy. I understand that a film needs those 20-25 minutes to set up the plot and characters, but the film would have been a lot better if the first act was as engaging as the rest of the film.

With that being said, the film is a good example of how one can take a complex plot and own it with sheer conviction from the get-go. Despite its flaws, the film is engaging enough to keep you hooked to the seats. For a film like this to work, it needs someone who can carry it on their shoulders with ease.

Samantha does a great job playing her character. She explores her range as an actor in this film. It is her statement to the world outside that she can mould into any character that she wants to. She can be sexy in a song like Oo Antava, a nerdy journalist in Mahanati, and a strong badass woman who fights evil forces in Yashoda. Of course, with a touch of motherly sensitivity. She particularly stands out in the action sequences choreographed by Yannick Ben.

Actor Unni Mukundan deserves a special mention for brilliantly playing a brainy doctor. Sampath Raj and Murali Sharma are at the top of their game at the moment with back-to-back releases. Madhu, tactfully played by Varalaxmi Sarathkumar is the definition of a perpetual gold digger. The rest of the cast does what is needed for the film.

In conclusion, Yashoda is worth watching for the sincere attempt of the makers in trying to bring out some of the malpractices done in the name of medical procedures and how they thrive on the insecurities of people. This film may not be the greatest thriller of all time, but it is definitely a decent flick that makes you question, “Is this what greed does to people?”

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