Majili: A Journey of Love, Heartbreak, Marriage, and Love after Marriage.
The Hindi dubbed version premiered on February 7, 2020, and is published on Aditya Movies YouTube channel with English subtitles. In my previous publication “Dear Comrade: Thank you!” I discussed how I discovered Tollywood (Indian Cinema) and what it is, in case you’re interested.
With foreign films is always a bit challenging to choose what to watch and sometimes the reviews and ratings don’t really help. They don’t reflect the content of the movie itself, but it is based on a personal perspective that is influenced by the reviewer’s life experiences. I expect it from regular movie watchers like myself but from professional reviewers, I’m expecting objectivity which is difficult to find these days.
Here is the IMDb description of the film as of March 30, 2022:
“After being abandoned by his lover, Anshu, Poorna takes to alcohol and is forced to marry his neighbor, Sravani. However, he soon discovers her unrequited love for him and falls for her.”
This second part of the summary is not completely correct. He doesn’t soon discover anything. On the contrary, it takes a long time for him to get his head in the right place and realize he has feelings for his wife.
In the next section, I will share with you how I interpreted the story with subtitles. Yes, there are going to be major spoilers but I think it’s important to share this perspective because sometimes things can get lost in translation or cultural differences may have an impact on how one interprets the story. I think it’s unfair when this happens with critics that are very quick to judge. Especially with foreign cinema, audiences tend to rely on critics and influencers that sometimes have their own biases or even have no idea about what they are reviewing.
Eventually, I think it’s better to watch it and make your own assessment. Sometimes rewatching is necessary. Afterward, it’s fun to compare with these “critics and influencers” and see how much they got wrong. There is always something. Now, let’s get into the story…
MAJILI: THE STORY
The story starts with a brooding 34-year-old Poorna, played by Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, playing informally as an empire during a cricket game. He gets a hotel room paid as a favor for his deeds. He seems to be living a life that he despises. Nothing in life excites him, even if it’s his favorite sport, cricket. Poorna is passionate about cricket, a very popular sport in India, but he is grief-stricken, and his life has changed completely.
It all started 15 years ago. We later learn that young Poorna, even though he was skilled in electric engineering, had the ambition to be part of the cricket team of the Railway zone. He is dedicated to the sport while continuing his studies. Poorna is a joyful young man living in Vizag with his father. His mother passed away.
He accidentally meets Anshu played by Divyansha Kaushik, a rich naval officer’s daughter. Both fall in love. In the meantime, Poorna finds some difficulties with his rivals within the sport. As time passes by, Poorna’s rival and local politics create a rift in the love story and break the couple apart. Anshu leaves Poorna due to her family pressure. The 19-years-old Poorna broken waits for her and fails in his career and life.
As expected, this tremendous setback wrecks his life to such an extent that he is unable to move on from his depression. Poorna finds it difficult to forget Anshu, and he gets consumed in her memories as he drowns himself in alcohol.
An alcoholic and a failed cricketer, Poorna is a nuisance in his neighborhood and a burden to his elderly father. He eventually gets married to Sravani, played by Samantha Ruth Prabhu. She lives next door and has always looked out for him. Undeniably she has for a long time unrequited feelings for him. Feelings that were so strong, she saw him as her everything. The high-spirited Sravani doesn’t give up on her husband as she surrenders herself to his service. She married him knowing his past and she still stays with him despite his stone-like behavior. The song Priyathama Priyathama showcases her unconditional love for him since they were young:
As much as Sravani dedicates herself to looking after her husband and nursing his internal wounds caused by emotional trauma and working in the railway department, Poorna fails to acknowledge her efforts and unconditional love.
Sravani is the “ideal wife”. Sravani is devoted to her husband even if he doesn’t look her in the eyes. She understands that Poorna is going through emotional grief and waits for years for him to come around. Poorna, still broken-hearted neglects his wife Shravani and spends most of his time aimlessly on the cricket playing field and at the bar.
He does not go to work, instead of reliving his memories with Anshu and relying on Sravani’s salary for money to buy alcohol, who works for the Indian Railways at Simhachalam Railway Station. Poorna is a weak man who can’t handle his pain all at once, so he takes it in slowly, day by day.
Sravani is the family’s major financial support, if she is taking everything silently, it’s only because she wants to. Poorna’s father also has a job, from what I could understand, while Poorna is doing nothing. Sravani slave-like submissiveness behavior is only for Poorna alone, she doesn’t behave the same with Poorna’s father.
Sravani is a hard-working woman who shrinks herself to make more space for her husband’s grief. At one point in the film, a co-worker at the railway station calls her out on how she behaves like a “pilli (cat)” in front of her husband, but becomes a “puli (tiger)” when she’s not in front of him.
One day he decides to look for work at the cricket stadium. When he goes to Dehradun to help select some cricket players for the youth team, he encounters Meera, Anshu’s daughter. He learns from Anshu’s father that Anshu and her husband Kunal passed away in an accident. He agrees to take Meera back with him to Vizag for cricket training, at Anshu’s father’s request. The fact that he is working again on the sport he loves brings some order and purpose to his life.
During Meera’s training with Poorna, she learns about her mother’s past. Poorna insists that she would play only as a representative of the local Railway team, which needs at least one of her parents as an employee of Railways. So, Poorna and Sravani decide to adopt Meera so that she can participate in the local railway team and follow her passion for cricket. However, Meera says that she will only agree if Poorna and Sravani act like husband and wife and not strangers, which they agree to.
During this time, Poorna realizes Sravani’s love for him and the development of his own feelings for her. It is the same hotel room we saw him in at the beginning of the film where he decides to leave his past and aims for a new start. However, Sravani thinks that he is just acting his love for her. She was waiting for him to pick her up when his friend let her know that he was in the hotel room. It is known that Poorna goes to the hotel room to get away from everything and remember the past. So, she decides to get a job transfer to Bhubaneswar, leaving Poorna behind.
When Poorna goes to drop Sravani off at the railway station he asks her the real reason why she didn’t leave earlier as the job transfer was offered to her weeks ago. Sravani tells him about her suffering and he tells her that he loves her and that he was actually going to tell her that he loves her, just when she decided to leave. Sravani decides to stay now knowing that Poorna finally has feelings for her. Poorna’s journey (Majili), a journey of love, heartbreak, marriage, and love after marriage, finally reaches a good place.
MAJILI: FIRST IMPRESSIONS
It is not a perfect film, but I ended up re-watching the last half hour of the film three times. I found the first half painfully slow maybe because I wasn’t much invested in the love story between Poorna and Anshu. They belong to very different economic backgrounds.
Anshu’s father is an officer in the Navy while Poorna’s father works as a ticket collector on the railways. She’s a north Indian and can barely speak Telugu. He can’t understand English or Hindi. They still somehow fall for each other. However, we don’t ever see their love blossom to a stage where the break-up is so tragic that it justifies the level of the dramatic impact it had on Poorna.
I was more invested in the second half of the film which started after the “intermission”. Intermission is the break time in Indian movies. If you were watching it at a theater, you get a short break during intermission. It is customary for Indian films to have an intermission since they have a longer runtime than the usual western films.
The second half after the intermission is titled “There is Love…There is Pain…” which focused more on Poorna, Sravani and Meera. Through Sravani’s expressions and body language, she says a lot without verbally saying anything. During the second half, you can see how both she and Poorna are carrying their pain. The actress did a great job. The character of Poorna was very well presented from a carefree young man to a more mature and serious man. The actor flawlessly portrays both periods of the character’s life.
I felt bad for Poorna’s father as he still had to take jobs to help her maintain the house. I think that the pain of seeing his son living like that could have been more impactful if it was shown more prominently. I was more invested in Sam’s dad and her relationship with him. I hated Poorna’s behavior for the majority of the movie. I wasn’t sympathetic toward his character. You feel bad for him in the beginning but that feeling soon dissolves into nothing.
The film presents in the second half a mature love story set in a middle-class set family. There are many scenes that will connect with people. But for me, one song by the end of the movie showcased the hope needed after all the experienced drama. I wish the second half could have been an expanded version of all the things happening during the song “Ye Manishike Majiliyo”. When looking for the song I found the Telegu original version sung by Arun Gopan, Chinmayi Sripada, and Baby Anusha. I watched the movie on Youtube with the Hindi dubbed version with English subtitles because it was more convenient but there are differences with the Telegu version with English subtitles on Amazon Prime Video. The song lyrics from the Hindi dubbed version are very different from the original version.
I liked the beautiful meaning of the Telegu lyrics, especially this part which I imagine is sung by a little girl:
“Ye manishike majiliyo, Paivaadu choopisthadu,
GOD SHOWS THE DESTINATION OF EVERY HUMAN.
Nuvu korukunte maathram, Dhorikedhi kaadhantaadu,
IT ISN’T WHAT YOU GET BY WISHING FOR.
O Madhini Dhooram Chesthe, Inkoti Mudi Vesthadu,
IF YOU MISS THAT COME FORWARD, HE TIES UP SOMETHING ELSE AGAIN.
Edhaloni Premanu Vere, Majiliki Cherusthaadu,
HE DRIVES YOU AUTOMATICALLY TO YOUR DESTINATION.”
It’s sounds charming. The Hindi version of the song in the movie on Youtube just doesn’t sound the same.
MAJILI: THE THEMES
Majili covers several themes. To me the following stood up the most: finding a purpose, rediscovering love, family values and adoption, commitment to marriage, and making it work.
Going back to what Poorna loves helps him find a new purpose in his life and a chance to rediscover his old self. It also gives him the opportunity to become a mentor to someone. A mentor is someone you look up to for guidance. A mentor or teacher is not your friend by definition as it’s promoted in the west.
Your friends are at your level. You are equals. At times you even talk down to them. On the other hand, your mentor or teacher is not your equal. Their wisdom should give them an upward status deserving of your respect. That wisdom is what makes you look up to them for help and guidance.
FAMILY VALUES AND ADOPTION
Meera is the saving grace of the movie. Her brazenness brings Poorna and Sravani together. She “forces” them or I should better say “motivates” them to behave like husband and wife. She will not accept them as her parents otherwise. You understand that having a family is important for her. She is just awesome.
Through the short period she is living with them you see the impact Poorna has on her as her mentor and how she connects with Sravani and sees her as a mentor figure. Having both of them in her life has been positive for her. You also see a change in Poorna’s father. He is smiling more for a change.
The fact that they adopt her knowing that it will change their lives is a topic I didn’t see being discussed much in the film’s reviews. Adoption doesn’t seem to be given much importance, but it can change a kid’s life when it is done with the right people at the right time that will take the role of parents seriously.
Your first love is always special. In this film, they fail to show the depth of the relationship between Poorna and Anshu. Things happen so fast; it almost looks like any casual short relationship, not a meaningful passionate one that could cause so much trauma.
Poorna is Sravani’s first and only love. With her, you see her suffering and pain. Her case is the opposite. With her, you will believe that loving Poorna is causing her grief.
COMMITMENT FOR MARRIAGE: MAKING IT WORK
Sravani chose to be in the position she is in, but I don’t think she imagined how much she would suffer. In the end, she almost couldn’t take it anymore. If Poorna didn’t have a change of heart a separation would have been inevitable for them. He chose to give them a chance. I just wish their story would have been more expanded on. The last 20 to 30 minutes of the film is the part I enjoyed most but it is also the most frustrating.
Their love story which to me is more meaningful develops in just one song sequence. The ending is too rushed. I would have liked to see how they would make their marriage work now that they are on good terms with each other.
I would have also liked to see the changes in their characters in more detail. Poorna becoming more secure in his role as father and husband and Sravani becoming more secure in her relationship with Poorna. I wanted to see her being outspoken, daring and demanding with Poorna. After all, she has endured a lot, she should be treated like a queen.
In my opinion, the movie’s weak point is the first half of the film. It tries too hard to show an intense love story. The stars of the film are Sravani and Meera. Meera gave Poorna a second chance to rekindle his love for the sport and the opportunity to be a mentor and father figure. Sravani makes her husband realize her unconditional love for him without actually saying it in words.
I was very surprised to find several Indian film reviewers of the movie to be similar to each other. They had almost the same negative points, especially the reviews by some women or should I say now female adult person? Anyways, that was very peculiar and similar to what we used to see in the west.
When you look at the general audience response, it is the opposite. Regular men and women like the film but most admit that it is not a perfect film and it has a meaning for the locals for where it is filmed, and the stars of the film are beloved by their fans. I can’t mention any recent film that I’ve seen from the west from this genre of films that had any impact like this film has. It tells you that despite all difficulties in your journey there is always something coming your way that makes it worth it.
Some Indian movies still have themes about family values, respect for elders, belief in relationships, learning to commit to a cause, fighting for what is right, etc. Which I think is great. We need these to exist. However, I see they are trying to imitate the west whose film industry recently lacks the inspiration and talent to create interesting stories for the general audiences. It is an opportunity for foreign films to up their game. Learn as you go, make improvements, and stay unique to your own costumes and values. Be the new inspiration for the people of the world.
My Rating: 7/10
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