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Kathanayakudu August 4, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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It was hard to screw up a film like Chandramukhi no matter how hard one tried – the plot of that flick was attractive enough to hide the filmmaker’s incompetence. And to his advantage P. Vasu had already helmed the Kannada version before. However, this time he isn’t so lucky and what you see is the merciless slaughter of another Malayalam blockbuster “Katha Parayumbol”.

Agreed – a lot of people knew beforehand that Rajnikanth wasn’t the main lead (notwithstanding the deceptive promotional campaign) but nobody would have expected his role to be restricted to a couple of monologues, a couple of songs and some fleeting glimpses. But that could have been completely forgiven if the rest of the film had something interesting to say. Nothing of that sort happens either. The original flick was supposed to be about this poor barber and his family and how his life changes after the arrival of a “superstar” in the village since this “superstar” happened to be the childhood friend of the barber. From what I’ve read it was also supposed to be a satirical take on “Star Worship”. What you get in this remake is a cringingly good barber (reminds me of those protagonists in “Super Good Films” features) and a pathetic comedy track which never seems to end. Also, the supposed satire on “Star Worship” almost turns into a justification of the whole phenomenon.

The somewhat emotional climactic reels are one of the few redeeming factors. Another one being G.V. Prakash Kumar’s score. The songs come in as a welcome relief and the “Cinema Cinema” song especially gels very nicely with the situation. If there is one thing which prevents this film from being unwatchable it is Jagapathi Babu. Despite being saddled with an overly melodramatic role he still makes you root for him with his earnest portrayal. I hope this film would revive his career again. Meena, who is back in a Telugu film after a long time does a fine job too.

I only hope Priyadarshan’s remake Billoo Barber with Irrfan and Shahrukh would do justice to the Malayalam original. Watch Kathanayakudu if you have to only for Jagapathi Babu. As for Rajni fans, I’d suggest that they wait for Shankar’s Robot next year.

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Yamadonga August 29, 2007

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The super successful team of Rajamouli and Tarak (NTR Jr) is back for the third time (after Student No. 1 and Simhadri) and it seems like they have another hit film on their hands. Writer-director Rajamouli changes tracks from action to fantasy but his target audience remains the same.

Raja (NTR) is a thief who gets into the bad books of Lord Yama (God of Death, played by Mohan Babu) when he abuses him over an incident. Yama is livid and he decides to show the human his power by killing him off at the earliest Yama Gandam. Meanwhile, Raja meets Mahi (Priya Mani), who is the granddaughter of a zamindar. She is ill-treated by her relatives after the death of the grandfather and is on the run. Raja decides to make some money off her without knowing about her troubles. He gets killed during this job and reaches Yamalokam (Hell). Finding that he has been unjustly killed, he decides to get back at Yama. The rest of the film is about how he turns around his fortunes and also saves his girl (whom he eventually falls in love with).

We are used to seeing Tarak as the plump action hero, so his new thin avatar is unsettling at first. Though I wouldn’t want to say it, I did feel that he might need to put on some weight now :). His hairstyle is consistently bad in the film but the short hair seems to suit him better. He delivers another first-rate performance and overpowers Mohan Babu in their scenes together. Mohan Babu uses his regular set of expressions including the excessive eyebrow raising but he suits the role and he scores with his dialogue delivery that has always been his USP. Priya Mani isn’t up to the mark. Mamta Mohandas actually gets a better role and although she doesn’t get her accent perfectly (dubbing for her role is itself commendable considering the current scenario with actresses), her performance works. Khushboo is too obese now to frolic about in the skies and ends up being unintentionally funny (I was in splits during the Chala Challaga Gaali song). Brahmanandam, Ali and MS Narayana provide some comic relief.

Keeravani’s score is a mixed bag aimed at different sections of the audience. I enjoyed the Nuvvu Muttukunte and Noonugu Meesalodu songs very much. Tarak and Mamta sing the new version of Olammi Tikkareginda with energy. Tarak’s dances are once again superb (look out for one fantastic step in the Nachore song choreographed by the upcoming Prem Rakshit) and his new frame certainly helps them look so much better. The reappearance of his grandfather on screen also works for the fans, especially when the two of them are dancing together! The graphics are much better than what we are used to seeing in most Telugu films. A review of this film would be incomplete without praising the production designer (Anand Sai), costume designer (Rama Rajamouli) and cinematographer (Senthil) who bring about the grand look of the film.

The Yama formula has been successfully used in the past with films like Yamagola, Yamudiki Mogudu and Yamaleela. Rajamouli rehashes the same formula with inspirations from many films (as usual). Since it has been over a decade since the last successful film using this formula, it appeals. Like all Rajamouli films, I have issues with certain aspects but the plusses outnumber the minuses of this film, which should appeal to kids and family audiences looking for an entertaining film, though one should be warned about its length. Despite not being an action film, this film has enough to appeal to the masses too. The only demographic with a problem would be the city audiences, who might bicker about the old-fashioned subplots or the potholes in logic but then the intent of this film is such. As long as you are prepared to stop questioning, this is a time pass film with a lot of fun moments.