‘Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo’ Is an Entertainer That Promises Fun
Trivikram Srinivas has always had a penchant for literary titles. If you take a look at his filmography, you’ll understand that all of his movie titles can be used for Telugu fiction and they’d sound perfect without missing a beat. But, somehow, for the last couple of years, he’s been focusing on a single element alone – a family drama where the rightful heir carries all the responsibilities on his shoulders. A template in itself isn’t a problem. After all, there are only a handful of subjects that writers and directors would be willing to deal with in Indian cinema. All I’m asking for is a little flavor that he showed in the first decade of the twenty first century.
Nevertheless, since Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo is nowhere close to a disappointment, I’ll let that thought evaporate for now.
He’s like the King Harishchandra; he never lies to people, even under pressure and stress. This kind of adherence doesn’t get him into any trouble, although his father (played by Murali Sharma) – actually the guy who brings him up by coming up with a crooked story – is the one that has to peel away from the moneylenders’ shouts.
These are all a part of the hilarious introductory scenes, as the story gets built up to the point where Bantu meets his real destiny. Unlike Trivikram’s previous films, Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo doesn’t have dialogues that can be quoted in humorous situations. They just serve the purpose at the right junctures and I don’t think anything that falls off the characters’ mouths this time is worth reproducing on pop-culture websites. The lines aren’t so bad that they’re unutterable; they are merely unmemorable. The jokes aren’t written into the narrative. They feel as though the actors took a few leaves from the material and improvised on the spot. It still works largely due to Thaman’s terrific score and the cast.
It features two actors who have been in the business of acting for more than three decades and it’s an example of how a secret that has tumbled out of the closet can be spoken about without derailing the momentum. If you compare this gently, and dare I say respectfully, written scene to the one where Bantu keeps staring at Amulya’s (Pooja Hegde) legs, you might start to imagine Trivikram as a coin with two sides. On one hand, he’s showing other filmmakers how to handle vulnerability, and on the other, he’s telling you that he’s also capable of selling silliness in the name of romance and comedy.
What bothers me is the muteness with which Amulya responds. This doesn’t say a lot about Pooja’s character since the writer, here, is absolutely not equipped to tap into feminine emotions. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the lines “Nee Kaallani Pattuku Vadalanannavi Choode Naa Kallu! Aa Choopulanalla Thokkuku Vellaku, Dayaleda Asalu? (My eyes have caught hold of your feet and not letting them go! Don’t trample all over my sights now, can’t you show a little mercy?),” could stand for the hero’s object of obsession.
However, since he has poured so much poetry into it, I don’t mind considering the song with a different situation.
Also, while I’m here, allow me to tell you why we don’t need a stereotypical villain in a fun entertainer. While Appala Naidu (Samuthirakani) is convincing as a villain, he’s no match to the hero’s quick-thinking and stylishly-fighting methods. We usually get a big establishing scene where the villain kills (or threatens to kill) with an evil grin, but when he finally comes face-to-face with the hero, he won’t even get a chance to complete his sentence.
It happened in the recently released Rajinikanth-starrer Darbar, in which Hari Chopra (Suniel Shetty), a man who set a police station on fire and terrorized an entire city, gets killed in less than three minutes in the climax. Similarly, Appala Naidu’s introduction has him injuring an advocate badly, and, then when he locks horns with the leading man, his tricks dry up. Why would any hero like to play an easy-to-win game?
Anyway, Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo has a lot going for it because Bantu spends time with other characters (played by Tabu, Sunil, Jayaram, Sachin Khedekar, Rajendra Prasad, Vennela Kishore, Rahul Ramakrishna, Nivetha Pethuraj, etc.) and doesn’t wallow in mediocrity for a long time.
And P. S., Vinod’s cinematography makes each frame in the action episodes appear as avant-garde paintings. And on top of it all, the songs are a treat! An absolute treat!
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