The subtext is rarely used in Telugu films nowadays and most films are depending on explicit narration. The subtext is the content underneath the dialogues and visuals. It is not easy to convey the thoughts and motives of the character through dialogues, so subtext is used in narration to convey it through action, art design, costumes, or even silence. The subtext is mostly implicit and sometimes conveyed through metaphors.
The subtext could be a person, color, object, symbol, action, etc that holds meaning. The subtext can be either narrative subtext or visual subtext. The narrative subtext is conveyed through dialogues or action. For example, in the film ‘Geetha Govindam’, a scene from ‘Bharateeyudu’ is shown where Kamal Haasan glances at his wife and she immediately packs luggage. That was described as the understanding between wife and husband. It is a very good example of the narrative subtext in movies. The visual subtext is conveyed through images. For example, the beard in Arjun Reddy is a sign of depression but is never explicitly discussed anywhere in the film. The subtext gives the audience information or tells them something about the character.
This article explicitly discusses the story of the film. There will be spoilers for the audience who have not yet watched the film. Click here for a spoiler-free review of the film.
C/o Kancharapalem presents the religion as the subtext under the love stories set in a suburban called Kancharapalem. The film narrates four love stories with each of them dealing with religion. It is to be noted that the religions are not discussed in detail and the film doesn’t focus on the stigmas associated with any religion.
Sundaram is a school kid and a practicing Hindu. He is infatuated with his classmate Sunitha and prays to God to make her talk to him. His friend helps him impress her and she finally talks to him during lunch break. Sundaram credits Lord Ganesha for it and keeps a blind faith in God. His love story comes to an end when Sunitha’s father sends her to New Delhi to join a boarding school. Sundaram blames God for it and loses faith in God.
Sundaram after losing his faith in Hinduism converts to Christianity and changes his name to Joseph. He is an aimless teenager who falls for an orthodox Brahmin girl, Bhargavi. They plan for their future together. Joseph is not highly religious but follows all religious practices and attends Sunday prayers. Bhargavi decides to convert to Christianity and Joseph takes up a job with the help of his boss, Ammoru. His friends and Ammoru morally support him. Their love story comes to an end when Bhargavi’s father marries her off to another guy. Joseph is shown praying in the Church before walking away. He has lost faith in Christianity and turned into an atheist.
Joseph, now an atheist and referred to as Geddam, works in a liquor shop. He falls in love with a lady who comes to their shop regularly. His friends force him to talk to her, and he finally gets to know her. She tells him that she is a prostitute but he still loves her. She reciprocates his love and they together plan for a future. His friends respect their decision and stand for them. He decides to convert to Islam to marry her. Some local Muslims believe that her profession is an insult to the religion and try to warn her but she accidentally gets killed. Geddam is heartbroken and decides to remain single.
Raju, now a 49-year-old bachelor, works as a clerk in an office. A widow and single mother, Radha, join their office. Radha is from Odisha and doesn’t understand Telugu at all but Raju teaches her the language. Radha treats Raju respectfully unlike others in the office who respect people by their position. When asked about Raju’s religious beliefs, he tells her that he believes in humanity as it is the people surrounding him who always stood for him but not God. She appreciates his philosophy in life. They eventually fall in love and Radha’s daughter approves of their marriage. Radha’s brother opposes her decision and tells her to ignore him. The people of Kancharapalem help them get married.
Raju had his religious beliefs receded with time and he finally keeps faith in the people surrounding him. The meaning of love changed for him with age. He initially believed in infatuation as true love which left him devastated. Later, loved a girl and decided to get married without the consent of her family but she has to marry someone else due to family pressure. Then he falls for a lady, respects and understands her but loses her. He loves another woman in his middle age, convinces her daughter about their marriage, and thinks about society and their future. The religions or Gods never helped him pursue his love or to lead a happy life. But it’s always the people who helped him. This is the central message of the film which is expressed through narrative subtext.