Something is comforting and soothing in fairy tales that are incorporated into life lessons through simple stories. It’s really like going back in the time when life wasn’t so complicated. The focus of “Konda Polam” (Pasha Forest) by director Krish Jagarlamudi. Which is an excellent story based on the famous Telugu novel of the same name by Sanupurredi Venkatarami Redi. While a young man grazes a large flock of sheep in a hilly forest. To survive a drought in the plains. A young man finds himself again and finds his purpose in life.
The story takes place in the arid Rayalaseema area near the Nalalalama forest:
Although the film was primarily shot in the hills of Vicarabad and Anantagiri due to COVID-19 restrictions. Konda Polam draws our attention to a little-known fact. About shepherds in a village where water was a luxury. Who had to venture into the desert to find food and water for their flock. Experienced shepherds, tired of the whims of life and terrain. Know how to survive in the forest and repel all kinds of predators – animals, reptiles and cunning people.
Krish leads us through Qatar’s Ravindra Yadav (Vaishnava Tay). Born into a shepherd family but more of an outsider. As he has the privilege of being trained rather than herding sheep. But Ravindra followed the herd of other species and became an engineer in hopes. That he would land a high paying job without understanding it or having the ability to do it.
He enters the forest, accompanied by his father (Sai Chand) and the villagers. Including Obulamma (Rakul Preet Singh), with eyes reflecting his experience. And guilt that he cannot win to lighten the burden of the elders.
After the initial pervasive excitement of some of the herders wears off. And they venture deeper into the forest. An attempt is made to make Konda Polam an interesting regional jungle book if you will.
There are no big surprises in history.
As it develops as a memory. We know what new responsibilities Ravindra is likely to take. And that the forest has had an enormous impact on him. Threats from reptiles, tigers and smugglers are among them. The slogan “an epic tale of awakening” is most visible in the music by MM Keeravani. And the cinematography by VS Gnanashekhar. Auditory and visual landscapes attempt to elevate simple stories. The camera rests lovingly on stunning images in the depths and captures the gloomy nature of the forest.
After the teachings of the jungle are discussed. The adventures of the shepherds seem to be repeated in the next potion. The duet and the inimitable climate also rob the film of its gravity.
The story of Ravindra’s transformation could be much longer. Although the story is well-intended and often compares the struggle for survival in the jungle. To the survival of the fittest in a particular urban jungle. We don’t feel the effect.
Vaishnav Tej is effective in displaying the necessary naivety for his character.
Surrounded by experienced actors, he playfully dives into the forest. A tanned raccoon strikes a delicate balance between having fun and trusting Obulama. A girl who has to put up with a lack of educational opportunities. In the emotional part, especially in the scene. Where Obulama confesses his love for her, the lack of experience is evident. Synchronizing your lips with Rayalaseema’s country dialect was never quite right.
Konda Polam has a solid lineup of supporters – Sai Chand, Hema, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Mahesh Vitta and Racha Ravi. Ravi Prakash shines in a phone monologue with his wife. Where he outlines his boundaries and shows. That he values his education and the stability he brings to the relationship. There are immersive and engaging parts like this in the film. But for all that, the ending feels uncomfortable, like a fairy tale stretched more than necessary.