Writer-director Abhimanyu Tadimeti delivers a delightful comedy-thriller with ingredients like crime, greed and religion
In the opening minutes, as the Telugu film Bhamakalapam finds his feet it’s hard not to remember 2018 hindi movie Andhadhun, even weakly. A lamb crosses paths and a car encounters an accident that changes the course of things. The story centers on female protagonist Anupama Mohan (Priyamani), a housewife and YouTuber known for her cooking skills. When the going gets tough, she uses her skills for something darker. Criminal incidents keep happening and on occasion what happens around them is a laugh riot. The plot is nothing like Andhadhun but this film exists in an area resembling that widely-loved macabre crime comedy.
- Starring: Priyamani, Sharanya Pradeep, John Vijay
- Directed by: Abhimanyu Tadimeti
- Aired on: Ah!
Headlining Bhamakalapam is a fantastical Priyamani who plays the openly curious housewife Anupama with elan. Even when Anupama is busy filming videos for her YouTube channel, she keeps tabs on what’s going on in her neighborhood. Early on, we learn of a hilarious turn of events when she tries to unravel a neighbor’s extramarital affair. His spying backfires and she, utterly embarrassed, promises her husband (Pradeep Rudra) that she won’t look out the window again. But fate has different plans for her.
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In Kuchipudi’s ballets, Bhamakalapam refers to the story of a stubborn and proud Satyabhama. In this film, the directors tell us the story of a stubborn but innocent housewife who finds herself embroiled in unexpected events. What she and the others involved in the mess face is the “dance of fate”.
The run-down, middle-class apartment complex is full of interesting characters, including a pastor who awaits divine events. Elsewhere, a Faberge egg worth ₹200 crore was stolen. As fate would have it, this stolen egg is (again) lost. Several crates of real eggs are crushed in a mission to find the Fabergé egg and someone is murdered. And then another.
The criminal network has a colorful character in the form of Nayar (John Vijay) who confronts Anupama and discovers that she is not a shy housewife. The parts involving Anupama and housekeeper Shilpa (Sharanya Pradeep) are hilarious, especially when they become unwitting partners in crime. In reality, Bhamakalapam is populated with interesting women. A heavily pregnant investigator (Shanti Rao) attempts to solve the crime which turns out to be more murky than it appears and another character, Saira, a survivor of domestic violence, is also integral to the plot.
About 45 minutes before the end, key revelations are made. Although we know the identity of the culprit, the film manages to intrigue as things go haywire, justifying the dance of fate.
The crime comedy is rooted in a statement that one must look within to find God, rather than being misled by anyone who uses religion as a weapon. The egg becomes the symbol of God’s return to earth and the deviated lamb is also part of the discourse.
The cast is also on point for the supporting parts. Cinematography by Deepak Yeragera, editing by Viplav Nyshadam, and music by Justin Prabhakaran and Mark K Robin add to the comedic thriller vibe. Take for example when the violins add crescendo to the sequence when Anupama finds herself drawn into a quicksand-like situation, wishing she had never taken that step fueled by her curiosity.
Bhamakalapam is an interesting departure from traditional Telugu film tropes, coming from the creative team of showrunner Bharat Kamma and director Abhimanyu.
(Bhamakalapam flows on Aha)