The pioneers of underground indie Telugu film, Rohit Penumatsa and Camp Sasi, craft a peculiar adventure and coming-of-age tale that is drenched in the evocative soundtrack of Vivek Sagar.
For a considerable number of us, accustomed to watching popular films in theaters, there are sometimes movies that justify taking an independent approach. A few independent Telugu films that reflect the subcultures seen in certain areas of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh have surfaced in recent years. With the rare exception, the most of these independent films have remained mostly inside the wide mainstream framework, using a common plot format or a few performers that are well-known. With Double Engine, their first theatrical release, Rohit Penumatsa and Camp Sasi, also known as Rohit and Sasi, who have led an independent movement in the digital sphere for over ten years, push the boundaries even farther.
A combination of theater performers and amateurs portray characters in Double Engine who are from a dry village in Telangana. The overall plot is straightforward. To celebrate turning 21, Danny (Muni Myatari), a shared car driver in Hyderabad, returns to his hometown of Tatipalli in the Medak district. His boyhood friend Gopi (Bachi Ajith) informs him in a drunken haze that he has seen a double-headed snake. They may make a fortune if they can catch the snake and sell it. They call these snakes “double engines” in the smuggling lingo. They seek the assistance of snake charmer Mouli (Raju Shivaratri) with the intention of realizing their entrepreneurial aspirations, accompanied by another buddy Narsing (Rohit Narasimha).
It all depends on how Rohit and Sasi tell this tale. The realistic and grunge-inspired images by Shashank Raghavula provide us glimpses inside a typical day in Danny’s life. He is seen transporting people across Hyderabad. The passengers are as diverse as they come, ranging from people who commute to work to drug users. Danny gets to flaunt his swagger as he goes about his day, which is further accentuated by the music of Vivek Sagar. The film mostly revolves around music, and Vivek skillfully blends urban and rural folk sounds to create a rock concert-like atmosphere.
Danny gives us a distinct perspective on Hyderabad, but as the story turns to Tatipalli, we are taken to a whole different place. The buildings with terracotta roofs and stone walls give the impression that they have withstood urbanization and have been preserved in time. When Danny shows up on a modern bike that he stole from a friend, he makes Kishore (Sai Kiran) and Kumar (Kumar Pawan), two vagrants from the hamlet, very excited. Other than the odd small-dollar recharge, Gopi laments that there isn’t much business for a mobile phone shop in the area.