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Times of India
: Hari Babu (Varun Tej) and Seetha Devi (Pragya Jaiswal) are college mates in Chennapatnam. They are from the same village and their love story follows them there. But they are divided by caste.
With a story line which has no "similarities" to any Telugu film made so far and a treatment that is effective to a great extent, Kanche is an example of how great writing can elevate a simple film into something sublime.
The story of Hari Babu (Varun Tej) and Seetha Devi (Pragya Jaiswal), lovers separated by caste - she is the daughter of a zamindar household and he is the grandson of a barber who also plays instruments at festive occasions - is narrated in the backdrop of pre-independent India.
Drawing interesting parallels to the discrimination meted out to Jews in Hitler-ruled Germany Hari Babu love letters from the line of fire during WW II are revelatory to say the least.
Kanche's biggest asset is the beautiful and profound lines by Sai Madhav Burra. "Idi kuda mana uri kadhe... Akkada jarigindi malli ikkada jaragakodadu" (This story is similar to what happened in our village. What happened there shouldn't happen here again) pretty much sums up the entire story and also gives you an insight into the depth of the dialogues.
Director Krish's attempt at narrating a tale never told before is compromised by the absence of a taut screenplay. Several sparkling moments are offset by vague and incomplete episodes. Like towards the end, the tragic climax where both the protagonists end up giving their lives doesn't quite move you the way it should have.
It is only his second film, but Varun shows the capability to shift gears from intense to sobriety. Pragya is perfectly cast as the regal girl and looks her part but it is surprising how less care seems to have been taken in terms of her dubbing because several instances you see her out of sync! Nikitin Dheer who plays Eshwar (Pragya's brother) is an interesting find and performs well within the boundaries of his character. Gollapudi Maruthi Rao and Shahukar Janaki are in their element in their brief but important acts. It is Srinivas Avasarala, however, who is out of place with his comedy failing to work most of the times even though he gets to mouth some beautiful lines by Sri Sri.
And not to forget, the director is supported by a skillful technical crew which is evident from the war sequences which come to life with the aid of beautiful camera work. However, what falters in the sequences is their execution. The background score by Chirantan Bhatt is a big plus.
But Krish's attempt at giving an outsider's insight into an event which happened nearly 75-80 years ago is appreciable because he manages to recreate an era gone by and the attention to detail can be seen with special care to the attires - except for Pragya who looks too fancy and made up for those times - and their props.
Kanche is a daring attempt for mainstream Tollywood cinema. While there's an interesting story which is told really well, you will be left with the lingering feeling that it could have been a lot better.