Released on Netflix 14th May 2021
A good way to describe Cinema Bandi would be as an ode to cinema. It is an endearing story about a group of people who don’t know much about filmmaking but they give it their all to make a film. Set in a remote village the films protagonist is an auto rickshaw driver Veera played by Vikas Vasistha. His life is pretty mudane as nothing much happens in his life. The conversations are mostly about the lack of rains and the bad roads in the village and also the big divide between rural and urban. Although Veera doesn’t make much money he is an optimist who sincerely believes that things will change for better. He often argues that if everyone migrates to the city who will make things better for the village.
Things take a huge turn for Veera when someone leaves behind a bag and in that one you have a high-end camera. During that night he sees a news channel report on how Telugu films with smaller budgets can also become super hits. From here on begins a fun ride mixed with different emotions.
Veera firmly believes that the film will change the fortunes of not just his life but also that of the village. Apart from Veera other important characters include the wedding photographer turned cinematographer Ganesh (Sandeep Varanasi) and the hairdresser turned hero Maridayya (Rag Mayur). Maridayya puts his screen name as Maridesh Babu!
The biggest strength of Cinema Bandi is how the director Praveen explores the psyche of the characters. It takes a lot for the villagers who are mostly dependent on their daily wages to be part of a film. One of the best scenes in the film is when Manga played by Uma shuts up a man who questions her on why she is acting. She responds by saying how those involved in the film have gone the extra mile in their daily life in order to make the film happen.
Another interesting thing about the film is its varied mix of female characters. On one hand you have a heroine who has her own plans of love and marriage. On the other hand there is another woman who doesn’t want to be a damsel in distress. She wants to take things into her own control.
The track between Veera and his wife has also been done well. The ups and downs of their relationship after Veera decides to direct has been shown in an authentic manner.
The cinematography by Apoorva Shaligram and Sagar is suitably rustic and adds in a huge way to the film’s credibility.
Apart from the main characters the smaller characters have also been well written. For example there is a boy who keeps a constant watch on the continuity required for the scenes. There is also a grandfather and we are told that he is the writer for the story on which the film is based. However, for most part he sits without uttering a word.
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The performances of the main cast work perfectly in sync with the setting of the story. Vikas Vasistha in particular is very good as the optimistic Veera.
In totality Cinema Bandi is a nice imagination on how a common man would direct a film if he ever gets a camera to shoot (don’t we all have that dream!).