A truly ‘AWE!’some film
Hailing from a Telugu family, I have always been quite happy with the society I had been living in – until I came to study in Delhi. That was when I got to see different perspectives and see the better part of the world. I have been a cinephile since birth (quite literally!) and I was once searching for Tollywood (Telugu) movies that addressed issues surrounding sexuality. The Telugu film industry is one of the booming film industries in all of India, and it hasn’t bothered to address important issues such as this? I was so taken aback when I actually contemplated the Telugu film industry.
Here, being a lesbian is joked about and gays just go crazy about every single man they ever see!? I now feel so stupid for having laughed at these sexist jokes. I now understand how narrow-minded people are and how they still believe the conventional binaries are the ones that truly exist. A lot of my cousins and friends aren’t aware of the huge spectrum that sexuality is (or for that matter, neither do adults). None addresses the taboo that mental health comes with and the growing concern of drug abuse as well as child abuse.
There is, however, this movie called ‘AWE!’ (available on Netflix) that covers different aspects of one’s life in just 2 hours. And I am more than excited to talk about this movie, which treats every single individual with respect and portrays various societal issues in a beautiful way.
‘AWE!’ is all about things left unspoken for generations. The movie is an anthology and covers the stories of many many people. You are sure to get confused while watching it but do try connecting the dots and you are sure to feel you haven’t wasted your 2 hours. It opens with Kajal Aggarwal who is very distraught. And the scenes keep switching between various characters- it all happens in the blink of an eye and is hard to follow. The movie, though, is one of a kind and a very bold one. The first time I watched it, I was so confused due to the variety of aspects that it spans across. And in this review, I’ve got you covered with every single one of them! This piece is not just about the movie but about the Telugu film industry (and a few of my rants).
Belonging to the LGBTQ community isn’t a sin
The movie portrays Nitya Menon (Krishna) and Eesha Rebba (Radha) as lesbians. The day they decide to let Radha’s parents know of their decision to unite, Radha and her parents wait for ‘Krish’ to arrive, only to realize Krish is a woman and that she is the lesbian lover of their beloved. What’s so big a deal about it? “Well, that’s not how it should be,” they say. Krishna then talks about how they two met and felt comfortable with each other. This is when she, being a psychiatrist, also reveals how Radha’s sexual orientation changed as a result of sexual abuse by her uncle during childhood.
Well, this marriage was eventually welcomed by Radha’s parents. But not every lesbian ought to have a history of having been subjected to sexual abuse, right? Anyways, I personally, have never watched a movie in Tollywood, that embraced the community. Even if there’s one, none ever welcomes it. (how unfortunate!)
Drug abuse: the modern-day plague
The film also portrays Mira (Regina Cassandra) who plays a drug addict waitress. There is a very short part in which Mira’s addiction to drugs as well as the changes that she gets after consuming drugs are shown. One day, she and her boyfriend are on a mission to loot money from an investor. And this is when she finds a necklace near a tree where a woman is said to have been buried alive. Mira wears the necklace and encounters the ghost of the dead woman. We all can see how she begins hallucinating the ghost, post her drug intake. Based on the Magnitude of Substance Abuse Survey, about 77 lakh individuals require help so as to get rehabilitated from drug use. This shows how grave a problem drug abuse is in India.
Sexuality is fluid
Another important aspect of sexuality that the movie highlights is it that one’s sexuality isn’t the same at every single point of time. One’s experiences or maybe just their attraction to other individuals could change their sexual orientation. The movie shows Shiva, a watchman, who wants to build a time machine so as to meet up with his parents that he hasn’t met for years. He then sees a woman called Parvathi, who claims she has come from the future and that she is him, that he will become a trans-woman in a few years. Bewildering as it could be for him, it does imply that sexuality is fluid, a very important facet of sexuality that many don’t really bother to acknowledge.
Child abuse and how it destroys one’s life (forever, in most cases)
Radha’s tormenting childhood has been talked of already and it is evident that child abuse is extremely depressing. The movie also highlights how parents either shush their kids when they complain of having been abused by someone or the abused children don’t feel it appropriate to talk about this due to the parents’ not paying attention to such incidents. According to the National Crime Record Bureau, around 110 children are abused every single day in India. Imagine the number of depressed kids we have in the country and how their lives are changed forever!
What else is in store?
The film has Nala (Priyadarshi) who wants to make money but has no idea about how to do so. He finally gets to try working as a cook, and the funniest part is that he has no clue how to prepare any dish for that matter. He ends up watching YouTube tutorials on how to do so but that plan fails too. This shows how important money is for a human and how one goes to any extent for the same. Also, Nala talks to a fish and a bonsai tree in the kitchen, which gives the movie brownie points for the humor. At a point in time, Nala tries to kill the fish, which shows how humans destroy nature so as to satisfy their greed.
Yogi (Murali Sharma), a magician, is extremely proud of himself. He surely is devoted to his job but is extremely self-centric and never lets go of any chance to prove himself to be superior. The magician is then scared by a magic master; showing how pride is indeed destructive. There is mention of ghosts and souls in the movie, which was just to capture the audience (a lot of people love such unrealistic elements, no one knows why).
Finally, there’s Kali (Kajal Aggarwal), who, we understand, to be suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder (commonly known as split personality). A bit of mythology here – Kali is the goddess that is the creator of the universe and she has many facets to her personality. All the characters we have seen until now are just the different personalities that Kali has. She commits suicide in the end so as to put a full stop to the chaos that her inner self has been facing due to this disorder. With this, all her virtual characters die too. Well, this is the end of the movie. And here is where you should start thinking. The movie has covered a huge lot of aspects of one’s life and it’s time for contemplation!
Despite starring many reputed actors in the Telugu film industry, the movie has done justice to every single character by not highlighting a single one. Every single one of them is extremely important. The names of the characters have been taken from Hindu mythology and each one has a personality similar to their namesakes from the ancient scriptures. A thought-provoking movie, this is a very different one that surely needs to be watched.
Featured Graphic Design: Itti Mahajan