Sunday, September 3, 2023


 "Ustaad" (2023) is an unusual love story in that it involves a motorcycle as well as a girl.  I believe it was inspired by the director/writer's love for a particular bike.

The story is a story within a story as Surya is telling the senior pilot the story of his life while the plane is on automatic pilot.  We see Surya as a youngster at the fair with his father.  His father is supportive and encouraging him to play, but when we get to a Ferris Wheel ride, Surya panics and we learn he fears heights.

Later we learn that his father dies after falling from a family roof, further reinforcing his acraphobia.  His mother who is a teacher raises him.  Despite her good guidance Surya is aimless.  As he reaches his young adult hood he doesn't really have any plans.  His young colleagues make fun of him, particularly his inability to drive a motorcycle.  Somehow an old motorcycle catches his attention and he is directed towards an older mechanic who specializes in old motorcycles.  The mechanic gets it running and gives it a name, "Ustaad" which in Telegu means master or expert. 

At about the same time and as a result of a motorcycle he meets the girl, Meghana who is getting a college education and has plans for her future (which involves an argument with her father).  It takes awhile but they get closer and closer.  While this is advancing he watches a commercial jet over him as rides his motorcycle.  He associates his desire to be a pilot with the motorcycle and takes steps to overcome his acrophobia.  The next big event is a discussion with Meghana's father who sees Surya as a poor match for his daughter.  The rest of the film is a breakup with Meghana who admits she loves him, but sees no future, partly due to his inability to control his temper and his carrying through with his ambition to be a pilot.  It is not too much of a spoiler to tell you there is an heroic pilot scene.  

This enjoyable film, in Telegu language is the result of many talented people.

This is the first film for writer/director Phanideep.  At the end credits they show a photo of an old motorcycle as the inspiration for the film.  One can conclude that many of the incidents shown were part of Phandeep's history.

B. Akeeva provided the music and like the writer/director made his debut with this film.

Pavan Kumar Pappula was the cinematographer with 12 film credits.

Carthic Cuts was the editor with 10 film credits.  

Sri Simha Koduri plays Surya as he gradually matures.  He has 8 film credits as an actor and one as an associate director.  

Kavya Kalanram  plays Meghana.  She has 3 film credits.

Anu Hasan plays the mother of Surya.  Her father was an elder brother to Kamal Haasan, the famous Tamil film maker.  She redeived an MSC degree in Physics.  She got into Tamil films.  For four years she hosted her own show as anchor, "Koffee with Anu."  She has 13 film credits plus did some dubbing, including for Preity Zinta.

Ravi Siva Teja played a close friend (and advisor) to Surya.  He has 11 film credits.

Ravindra Vijay played the alcoholic mechanic that picked the name for the motorcycle and the film.  He earned a medical degree, but only practiced a short time.  He could speak five languages including English.  He started with theatre and went on to have 13 film credits including 8 episodes of "The Family Man" (2021).  Check:  

Gautham Vasudev Menon played the senior pilot who listened to Surya's story.  He has mostly been involved with Tamil films.  He directed 24 films, mostly in Tamil, but also a few of his earlier films were remade in Bollywood under his direction.  He has 31 acting credits, 24 directing credits and 21 writing credits.

It is basically a coming of age story.  The main character starts out as immature and over time he (or she) matures.   The couple are very likable and are well supported by the rest of the cast.  Available subtitled on Prime.

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