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Movie Review: Morning Raga

Genre: Musical/Drama

Director: Mahesh Dattani
Producer: K Raghavendra Rao

Storyline:

The movie begins with a scenic village in Godavari Dist of Andhra Pradesh where Swarnalatha (Shabana Azmi) and her friend Vaishnavi are shown to be an excellent singer-violinist duo. Swarna gets a chance to perform in the city and the two set out for the city. Enroute, while crossing a bridge, the bus in which they are seated collides with a car and falls into the river beneath killing Swarna's son and Vaishnavi. Stricken with grief and a feeling of guilt for having invited Vaishnavi to the concert and her death in the meantime, she develops certain hysteria towards crossing the river on the road to the city.

Cut in to Hyderabad, 20 years later, Vaishnavi's son Abhinay (Prakash Rao) is a budding musician. Abhi is frustrated composing music for Ad-jingles. He has a burning desire in him to achieve recognition by forming a music-group and composing memorable music. Abhi makes a trip to the village where he accidentally meets Pinky/Priyanka (Perizaad Zorabian) who shares some interests with him in music. In the meantime, Swarna sends Abhi his mother's violin which rakes up the memories of Abhi's mother's music along with swarna's voice. Thus, Abhi goes back to the village persuading her to sing.

Later during a conversation between Pinky and her mother (Lilette Dubey) who owns a boutique in Hyderabad, it is revealed that it was actually Pinky's drunken father who was driving the car that was responsible for that fateful accident that killed Swarna's son and Vaishnavi. Pinky is left with a feeling of guilt towards that incident. In the Village, Abhi's father (Nazer) is also left with an ill feeling towards Swarna and her family. Swarna is left with a feeling of guilt that it was she was the one who was responsible for her death by inviting her to come over to the city.

The rest of the movie is about how each other is able to overcome their fears and the feelings of guilt bound by the accident. The beautiful sounds of karnatic music seem to bind the three back together. By the end of the movie, all the characters seem to shed their inhibitions and perform as a successful group.

Comment:

The movie qualifies as a typical offbeat movie that would meet the palate of the sensitive movie-goer with an inclination towards music. Since karnatic music is the fibre of this movie, it has been given adequate focus with songs such as 'Vatapi' and 'Thaye Yashoda' being performed. Popular songs such as 'samajavaragamana' and Raghuvamsa' are also played, albeit with less grandeur.

Shabana Azmi has single-handedly taken the movie through. She plays her role with ease and fullness. Prakash Rao fits perfectly into the role of an andhrite-musician youngster. Perizaad seems to carry her role of a 'nice girl' from her previous movie 'Mumbai Matinee' where she plays Sonali Verma who finally falls in love with Rahul Bose in the movie. She looks impressive in ethnic wear. Lilette Dubey has done a wonderful role as Mrs. Kapoor, the mother of Pinky, a boutique owner and a socialite wannabe. Dubey can be seen in similar roles in Monsoon Wedding.

Music has a classical and a fusion tinge and has been given a good deal. Artwork blends well with the people and places. The movie has been shot in a village, probably gannavaram in Godavari District of AP. The scenes in Hyderabad have been shot around Tank Bund, Jubilee Hills, Golkonda, etc.

Bottom-line: If you have a taste for 'offbeat movies', you can try this one.

Cast (from IMDB Site):

Shabana Azmi .... Swarnlatha
Prakash Rao .... Abhinay
Lillete Dubey .... Mrs. Kapoor
Perizaad Zorabian .... Pinkie
Shaleen Sharma .... Balaji
Vivek Mashru .... Munna
Naser .... Abhinay's father
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