how much you are likely to enjoy Sekhar It may be proportional whether you have seen its 2018 Malayalam original or not, Joseph, Starring Joju George. The faithful, scene-by-scene remakes have lost their sheen in the OTT era when originals are available with subtitles. However, if you haven’t seen Yusuf, Sekhar There is an interesting story to tell. A story that is also a character study of the protagonist. Director Jeevitha Rajasekhar stays away from the trap of mainstream Telugu cinema and sticks to what is required of the story. He and the team also deserve applause for not trying to change the ending.
Sekhar is a family project involving Dr. Rajasekhar, his wife Jeevitha and daughter Shivani. Still not enjoying it. The father-daughter part gets a few minutes longer than the original, but without tampering with the proceedings.
Jeevita sets the story in the idyllic Araku Valley. The unfinished, sparsely populated location fits the story. We see Dr. Rajasekhar as Shekhar, a middle-aged loner who is wasting his days in the company of smoking and alcohol. A former cop, his crime-solving instincts are sharp and intact. A crime he solves in the opening minutes, reveals the how and who, is fitting for the small town setting and is almost the way of Sherlock Holmes.
The story begins when Shekhar smells something fishy after the death of his wife and digs deeper, and discovers that another loss from the past has also been suspected.
Cast: Dr. Rajasekhar, Atmiya Rajan, Muskan Khubchandani, Shivani Rajasekhar
Direction: Jeevitha Rajasekhar
Music: Anoop Rubens
The modus operandi of the crime is revealed in the second and third acts of the story. Before that, there are other layers to peel off. The non-linear narrative moves back and forth and turns Shekhar into an irritable recluse. He carries the burden of the past, consumed by guilt that he didn’t act in time to save a loved one; which disturbs his house.
In the present day, he shares a great equation with his friends who always stand by him. His relationship with his ex-wife’s second husband, Mallikarjuna (a teenager in a restrained, effective portrayal) is as interesting and subtly explored. The quiet respect that both of them have for each other shows their inherent maturity.
Sekhar largely sticks to the beats of the original, recreating camera angles and even multiple dialogues. But unlike the original, there is no interest in it as not all the actors do justice to their parts. While Dr Rajasekhar puts on an honest performance as a middle-aged man, his return to his younger days could have been handled better. Older actors trying to look younger are always a tough task. In the case of Atmiya Rajan (as wife Indu), the opposite is true. While she can carry off the younger portion with ease, her makeup for the older portion is not effective.
The romance parts between Muskaan and Rajasekhar also stick like a sore throat, with a song thrown in. Songs that break the narrative further slow down the slow-moving film.
Sekhar Telugu cinema is a detour from the norm and a serious endeavor. If only there was more spark in the performance and better music.