In a scene in Urvashivo Rakshashivo, the Telugu remake of the 2018 Tamil film Pyaar Prema Kaadhal, Sindhuja (Anu Emmanuel) asks Sree Kumar (Allu Sirish) about his dreams and he says he wants to take care of his mother. Sindhuja points out that it is his responsibility, not a dream. He, growing up in a middle class home where his life revolves around his parents, hasn’t nurtured an ambition beyond a job that would fetch him an income. She, growing up in the US and sharing a more friendly equation with her father, wants to save up enough to open a fine dining restaurant in Paris. He wants marriage while she prefers a live-in relationship so that she can pursue her dreams without being tied down. Director Rakesh Sashii keeps the essence of the original story and shows what happens when the two different worlds collide.
Urvashivo Rakshashivo is presented like a slick urban office rom-com that packs in a lot of gags; some of them are silly, but Vennela Kishore, cast as the OTT-obsessed co-worker named Satish, makes them work.
Sree and Sidhuja’s romance begins like a regular boy-meets-girl story with him trying to draw her attention. We also get an idea of the homes they come from and what shapes their thought process. Sreekumar’s mother (Aamani), wants to find a traditional and non-working woman for her son. We see her observing a young woman who works at the marriage bureau for visible signs of marriage — a mangalsutra and toe rings — and smirks when she learns that the woman has had a love marriage. The father (Kedar Shankar) is a silent spectator who stands by his wife. Conversations at this home are more on a formal note between the son and the parents.
Cast: Allu Sirish, Anu Emmanuel, Vennela Kishore
Direction: Rakesh Sashii
Music: Achu Rajamani
In contrast, Sindhuja shares a friend-like rapport with her father (Prithviraj) who teaches contemporary western dance. Later, she even tells her dad about her casual sex experience with Sree. Though the father doesn’t judge her, he does point out the difference in mindsets between families.
The differences between Sree Kumar and Sindhuja are starkly laid out as the story progresses. Plenty of humour comes through the characters played by Vennela Kishore and Sunil — the latter is Sree’s neighbourhood confidante — but some of the lines, especially those by Posani Krishna Murali, fall into the cringe-inducing double entendre mould.
Tanveer’s cinematography aptly plays up the aesthetic production design in the office and at the couple’s live-in home while bringing out the starker hues in the middle-class home. For a romance drama, the music could have been much better.
The later portions drag. However, there are a few interesting aspects scattered throughout the film, which prop up the narrative. It is refreshing how the story does not character assassinate Sindhuja who is not the conventional ideal woman. Even when Sree judges and humiliates her, she cannot be put down. Rather than hide in shame, she strides into the office and begins work almost as usual. Yet another small, but impressive character is that of a woman housekeeping staff who underlines the pain of not being able to pursue her dream.
Allu Sirish and Anu Emmanuel come up with better performances than in some of their earlier work; he manages an easy, casual demeanour during the romance portions and she plays the modern woman with a matter-of-fact assertiveness. However, in the crucial scenes, their limitations show up.
Towards the end, the story sidesteps cliches and shows how the protagonists and the parents learn to look at different points of view.
Urvashivo Rakshashivo is a watchable rom-com that mirrors the complexities of modern relationships and could have benefited further with better performances and music.