The collaboration between Payal Rajput and Ajay Bhupati in Mangalavaram has ignited widespread anticipation among cinephiles. After their successful debut with RX100, the duo faced challenges in replicating that success in subsequent ventures. Now, with the upcoming horror thriller Mangalavaram, they aim to captivate audiences once again. Scheduled for release on November 17, 2023, the film promises to evoke fear and excitement. Let's explore whether Mangalavaram successfully instills the anticipated chills and thrills in the hearts of movie lovers.
Mangalavaram unfolds a tale of enigmatic deaths occurring in a village every Tuesday, earning it the ominous moniker. The village of Mahalakshmipuram is shrouded in fear as individuals meet shocking demises following the appearance of their names on the walls.
SI Maya (Nandita Swetha) endeavors to investigate these deaths through postmortems, but the villagers vehemently oppose her efforts. The story delves into the reasons behind this resistance, unraveling the mystery behind the deaths. Sailaja, also known as Sailu (Payal Rajput), plays a pivotal role in the unfolding events. The connection between Zamindar Prakash Babu (Chaitanya), Kasi Raju (Ajay Ghosh), Zamindar's wife Rajeswarai Devi (Divya Pillai), photographer Vasu, and Doctor Vishwanatham (Ravindra Vijay) forms the crux of the narrative, exploring the intricate ties that bind them and their involvement in the village's unsettling occurrences.
Payal Rajput has convincingly transcended the label of a mere glamour icon, showcasing her ability to deliver intense and captivating performances. Beyond the bold and intimate scenes, she skillfully portrays powerful expressions and emotions, evoking a profound response from the audience. Her portrayal of a village belle, despite the deglamorized role, is executed with full justice. However, there's a concern that she might be getting typecast into similar roles, particularly noted in her bold and intimate scenes. Despite appearing only during the interval, Payal takes charge and carries the film on her shoulders from that point onwards, leaving a lasting impression.
Nandita Swetha exhibits compelling body language and screen presence, making a significant impact with her portrayal of a police officer. Her delivery of powerful dialogues, coupled with the right attitude and arrogance, keeps viewers glued to the screen. Divya Pillai, portraying a role with different shades, delivers a commendable performance, doing justice to her character.
Ajay Ghosh, in the role of Kasi Raju, performs adequately. Chaitanya's intense look elevates the scenes, leaving a strong impact with his overall performance. Ravindra Vijay delivers a riveting performance, showcasing his talent effectively. Shritej displays his skills, and the rest of the cast performs commendably in their respective roles.
Ajay Bhupathi's narrative in Mangalavaram promised novelty but unfortunately delivered nothing groundbreaking, despite the initial excitement generated by the concept of a nymphomaniac. The storyline, except for a brief moment in the second half, follows a predictable and monotonous path, testing the audience's patience. The first half is predominantly consumed by crude comedy, featuring Ajay Ghosh and others, and the absence of Payal Rajput disappoints viewers despite the filmmaker's emphasis on mysterious deaths.
The investigation led by Nandita Swetha fails to elevate interest levels, abruptly halted by Chaitanya. The anticipation for a potent and provocative second half with Payal Rajput is met with disappointment, as the emotional scenes and flashbacks become predictable. The climax feels dragged, attempting to create interest in a potential sequel, leaving viewers unsatisfied. The dialogues lack impact, turning out to be rather ordinary.
Gullapalli Madhav Kumar's editing is passable, with noticeable repetitions and drags that hinder the film's pacing, particularly in the entire first half. The second half sees a slight improvement in editing. Dasaradhi Sivendra's cinematography effectively captures the mysterious village atmosphere in an intriguing manner. Ajaneesh Lokanath's songs are situational and emotional, while his background music enhances the overall cinematic experience. The production values stand at a decent level.
Altogether, Mangalavaram falls short of expectations on various fronts, with Ajay Bhupathi's screenplay and direction failing to deliver a captivating experience. The storyline, apart from the unique nymphomaniac concept, turns out to be routine, lacking the necessary intrigue. The first half is marred by frivolous comedy and investigative scenes that contribute little to the overall narrative. In the second half, the attempt to emphasize Payal's glamour falls flat, resulting in disappointment.
Considering these aspects, Cinejosh assigns a rating of 2.5 for Mangalavaram, indicating a lackluster performance in terms of storytelling, direction, and overall engagement.