A reincarnation love story with the protagonist recalling his previous birth and the beloved of the past is not any novel premise. It has been seen umpteen times before on the silver screen. But the way director Rahul Sankrityan presents it as a superfine mix of fiction, social themes, and the present new-age filmmaking transforms it into an immensely watchable film with some adorable performances.
Written by Satyadev Janga, Shyam Singha Roy begins with a present-day story of a debutant filmmaker Vasu (Nani), making his short film requesting a pretty girl Keerthy (Krithi Shetty) to feature in it. The short film helps Vasu get a feature film project, and he soon becomes a successful director getting more offers from the industry. That very moment, he shockingly gets arrested on the charge of plagiarism — for lifting a story written over five decades back by a social reformist, Shyam Singha Roy.
The initial moments of the film don’t give you much to praise as they more or less present the routine romance and drama between the lead characters. However, the narration gets into the form once the story moves back to the 1960s, strongly pointing towards the social evils of caste divisions and inequalities, exploiting the poor.
After a good one hour, the brightest merit of the film arrives in the form of Sai Pallavi as a devadasi, who simply wins your heart with her charming smile, spellbinding dances, lovable body language and screen presence. Nani, too, is impressive as Roy becoming the unusual victim of honour killing (as a male) along with the decent supporting cast. But Sai truly owns the film, dancing like a dream. She plays the role with convincing empathy, and you wholeheartedly root for Roy fighting for her with the powerful priest.
Ironically, this visually delightful part of the film going back in time also remains the most flawed section of the film, taking huge creative liberty. At one end, the sets, costumes, colours, lighting, cinematography, background score, and songs elevate the film to another level. But on the other hand, the tradition of devadasis and the conduct of the priest doesn’t gel with the period of the 1960s. The tradition might have been there, but certainly not in this magnitude and grandeur, questionably relating it to the Navratras.
But then, the impact of this second half and the courtroom sequences is such that you don’t feel like stressing upon the shortcomings, completely won over by the characters and their touching love story. In short, Shyam Singha Roy might not be entirely novel, but it is indeed worth watching for its second half and Sai in particular, who stays with you for long, dressed in her traditional red attire like a Devi.
Title: Shyam Singha Roy (Telugu)
Cast: Nani, Sai Pallavi, Krithi Shetty
Director: Rahul Sankrityan
Rating: 3.5 stars