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King December 29, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The last time there was a major dent in Sreenu Vaitla’s then moderately successful career was when he made Andarivadu with Chiranjeevi. I haven’t seen that film and so cannot comment on what probably went wrong there. His latest flick King coming after three successive hits (and obviously with a lot of expectations) almost proves that a big star can be jinxed for him. I said jinxed because everything seems right here but hardly anything works.

He has a nice plot (various inspirations/lifts notwithstanding) with umpteen situations promising potential guffaws but the end result is more like a Sreenu Vaitla jokes-falling-flat carnival. It’s a twist filled mistaken identity plot so I won’t bother writing about it. Most of the plot/scene/character inspirations come from Anil Kapoor flicks like Race, Khel and Welcome. The director seems to have done his homework in creating quite an amusing screenplay but you wish he had rather spent his time in creating some real humor. The funny moments are forced mostly while the cast also doesn’t quite pull it off a considerable number of times.

Vaitla seems to have been overawed by the presence of Nagarjuna – who is made to act as if every scene was his introduction sequence. He is constantly involved in stupid fight sequences and mouthing seemingly “punch(less) dialogues” –  which I feel is not quite his forte. It’s sad because Nagarjuna has his own unique and subtle comic timing which could have worked wonders for a movie like this but seems to have been sacrificed in favor of “appealing to the masses”. He’s looking great though (especially after Don). Also Vaitla’s star vehicle Brahmanandam gets a bland role which as everything else in the movie seems promising but doesn’t quite work. Srihari is the only one who manages to get a better written role. Trisha does the same old stuff. Devisri Prasad’s music is average and most importantly unwanted.

The director seemed to have loved his film so much that he disposed off with the editor; otherwise a film like this would not have a runtime of over three hours. King is a huge disappointment primarily because a majority of people who’d venture into it are likely to have Dhee, Dubai Seenu and Ready still fresh in their minds – if you are someone who hasn’t seen any of these then maybe you won’t feel too bad but I cannot really say if you’d like it. The director’s next one on the cards is with Venkatesh…so I am in two minds whether to be excited about it. Let’s hope Vaitla spends more time on his script than about figuring out how to present his “big hero”.

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.