Manu started as a small indie film but has grown into a promising film over time. The film was crowd-funded and later Nirvana Cinemas joined on board to present the film. The popular short filmmaker Phanindra Narsetti, who is known for Madhuram and Backspace which were loved by both audience and industry personnel alike, has written and directed the film for his debut in feature films. Raja Gowtham and Chandini Chowdary starred in the film.
Phanindra Narsetti may not be a popular name among the regular Telugu audience but his ideas from the short film, Madhuram, were adapted in at least 3 Telugu feature films in the last couple of years. He was obsessed with creative freedom and doesn’t like to commercialize his films and that’s what made him prefer crowdfunding over studio production. He is well known for his poetic expressions, novel ideas, nonlinear narrative, and unconventional look in his films.
The trailer of the film was released on 12th Aug to a positive response from the audience. The 3-minute trailer expressed the idea and genre without revealing too much story. The film is going to be a mystery thriller with an unconventional setup. The majority of the story happens within an apartment and revolves around 3 characters: Manu, Neela, and Akbar.
The film is possibly set around the year 2000 when the typewriters and landline phones are common. There is also a scene featuring either a cordless phone or a first-generation mobile phone. The art design was impressive in bringing a contemporary look to the film. There are many props in the trailer such as foldable chairs, switchboards, lamps, photo frames, etc, which were designed to match the timeline.
There are either 2 or 3 timelines in the film based on the trailer. The basic story happens within a day as Neela, Akbar, and Manu were shown in the same costumes throughout the thriller track. The love story of Manu and Neela runs in a different timeline over several days as the costumes of Neela keep changing but Manu is more or less the same. The fight between Manu and Akbar in the bar could be another timeline as there is an LED TV in the background and Akbar had a different costume.
The sea or ocean in the film represents loneliness. It’s vast and resourceful but is always lonely. Manu is shown wearing the black dress throughout the trailer which signifies the pain he is carrying. The color black is also associated with power and mystery which might be the characterization of Manu. The fish trap could be the central idea of the film. Neela is the bait (earthworm) and Manu is the thread. The whole premise of whether Neela is safe is to make the audience fall into the trap and think about Neela while ignoring Manu. It’s important because Manu has some goals. He traps the rats and leaves them in the apartment. He rearranges the things in Akbar’s flat. This could be either to trick or to mentally torture Akbar. The reason could be that someone is hospitalized because of Akbar (probably stabbed with a knife) which links to the initial shot of blood transfusion. An alternative could be the drug addiction of Neela or her psychological problems.
Multiple Tracks in the Trailer
Manu throws away the key and as he is walking away, he either hears something inside the flat or gets suspicious of something. He returns and peeps into the flat through the keyhole. He sees something shocking and returns to get the key.
The rats are trapped within a plastic container. Manu carries them and leaves them inside Akbar’s flat.
Manu gets inside Akbar’s flat, rearranges things, and throws cigarettes in the dustbin. Akbar complains about it to Neela on phone. She tells him to keep the room clean.
Neela and Akbar could be the same person otherwise it doesn’t make any sense to have the same furniture (sofa) in their flats. There could be similar furniture if it’s a hotel but there is a typewriter in Akbar’s room.
The background score and rerecording are better than in many contemporary Telugu films. The center staging is used for most of the shots. The shooting is mostly done with a handheld camera and the pov is subjective. The subjective shots are a sign that the director wants to take control of the scene instead of leaving it to the audience. Most of the shots in the trailer have a shallow depth of field making it difficult to understand the background. A sports camera like Go Pro is used for some tricky shots. The lighting is minimal with an occasional experimental lighting setup. The visuals are more inclined towards European cinema. The trailer cut is good with a perfect blend of multiple tracks.
Manu is gearing up for a worldwide theatrical release on 7th September.