Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brindaavanam (2010) dir. Vamsi Paidapally

I won't be able to explain exactly how excited I was to finally see my favorite Tollywood hero on the big screen,  let me just say that for me personally, Endhiran and Khaleja were fabulous opening acts for what has turned out to be a superfantastic (yes that is one word) October.
I saw Brindaavanam in a very packed theater (the most I've seen in the theater and lining up for the later show since Om Shanti Om). Since I was going to be seeing a movie without subtitles, I did my usual peeking at reviews so I can get an idea of the basic story going in, so I knew that the first 15 minutes would have a fight and a song. I had my friend Marcia with me who is a newbie to Tollywood and had become a huge Jr. NTR fan after only one viewing of Yamadonga and some dance videos. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the Hero Introduction and it was so cool to see the theater erupt and Marcia almost fall out of her chair. (I of course remained quite composed, I am from Minnesota after all) Ha-Ha! Such fun!

Jr. NTR plays Krish, a millionaire's son, who has a girlfriend Indhu, played by Samantha. She tells him about her friend Bhoomi, played by Kajal who needs help getting  out of an arranged marriage. Prakash Raj plays Bhoomi's Dad. He is wonderfull as the stern Father. He has lots of stoney stares and glares. I wasn't able to figure out why the heck he would push Bhoomi into an arranged marriage with the evil looking goonda played by Ajay, I mean couldn't he tell by looking at him he was bad news? Anyway Indhu convinces Krish to pretend to be Bhoomi's boyfriend in order to help her get out of her predicament. While traveling with her to her rural home (named Brindaavanam)she fills him in on her family which seems to be a very miserable and dysfunctional bunch. Once Krish arrives he is able to win them all over and resolve some of their problems. The supporting cast is excellent and features what seems like almost all the main supporting stars of Telugu films.

Kota Srinavasa Rao plays Bhoomi's grandfather, he tells Krish about his other son played by Srihari. It seems Prakash Raj and Srihari are step brothers who have been feuding for a long time. Someone in the theater was kind enough to tell me the feud was over a lack of respect exhibited at a wedding, not sure whose, maybe Srihari's. When the grandpa leaves to visit his other son Krish goes along.
     Srihari was great! Seemed like all his dialogs started with "Rey!" and were said in an echo chamber. (I just love the Tollywood sound effects during fights and speeches and funny moments. Such a wonderfull part of the ride, puts a smile right on my face!) Krish manages to bring the two Brothers together and Prakash Raj is happy now to let Bhoomi marry Krish. A bit of a problem because Indhu is really Krish's girlfriend. Not only that but it turns out Indhu is Srihari's daughter. Indhu comes up with another plan to play along with the engagement by bringing in  Brahmanandam in as a pretend Father for Krish. At the same time Srihari finds out Indhu has a boyfriend and  brings Krish's real parents to Brindaavanam.
       The rest of the film is a series of comical escapades as they try to keep the charade going. The audience was in stitches during the scenes between Tarak and Venu Madhav and Tarak and Brahmi. Brahmi's entrance caused almost as many cheers and whistles as Tarak's entrance. I enjoyed Venu more I think primarily because his comedy scenes were much more physical and so the lack of subs didn't deminish my enjoyment of him.
    Samantha and Kajal did fine with their respective roles. I liked Samantha's charactor better maybe because I think she is a better actress. It's not an easy task to keep up with Tarak, and I have to confess I was mostly watching him, but I thought they both did an excellent job in the dances.

The movie's climax had Krish confessing to Srihari and Prakash about his deceit. That doesn't go over very well, but then Bhoomi needs rescueing so when Krish saves her all are happy again. In the end Krish has to decide who to marry and like in Simhadri it is implied he ends up with both. 

Brindaavanam can really be summed up in one word: Tarakariffic! (Hee-hee I made that one up!) Tarak was his usual awesome self. The audience cheered during his dialogs, especially the Racha Racha speech (not me though I *ahem* remained quiet and ladylike throughout) The fights were great! I loved some of the funny details like when he wrapped his fist in the towel and helped all the rowdies he pounded land on the ground quietly so he could sneak up on more of them. I loved the tree breaking apart and cutting the other tree in half during the climax fight. The variety of looks on his face when he was in Brindaavanam trying to keep his charade going were priceless. His dialog delivery was fun to watch. I can't wait for the dvd to get the full benefit of the comedy and the emotional scenes. 

The music by S.S. Thaman is very good and Tarak's dancing proved once again that he is the best. There aren't video clips sufficiently long enough to post the songs, so that will have to wait for the review with screencaps I'll probably do whenever the dvd with subs comes out.   I loved Yuvakula, the first song picturisation right after the Hero Intro scenes. What a great way to start the movie! I also loved the the picturizations for Eyi Raja and Chinnadho. In all the songs I was really glad they weren't over edited. I hate it when there are too many cuts like in Adhurs. It takes away from the enjoyment of just watching the man move.
All in all Brindaavanam had everything I love about Tollywood movies. It was definetly worth seeing in the theater even without subtitles. But for me I think the hero made it Tarakariffic!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Khaleja (2010) Dir. Trivikram Srinivas

At long last I have had the chance to see one of my most favorite Heroes on the big screen! Mahesh Babu is one of my first Tollywood crushes. There is so much to love about Mahesh. He is dorky-cool and so tall and handsome. I just love his smile and the way he delivers his lines. My favorite movies of his  are Athadu, Arjun, Murari and I love Takkari Donga too.  I haven't had to wait as long as other Mahesh fans for his long awaited release Khaleja. It's been three years since Athidhi released, but only 4 months since I watched my most recent Mahesh movie.  It was Vamsi and before you all feel sorry for me I have to say that movie falls into the so bad it's good category. What's not to love about sliding across a CGI alligator's back?
       I saw Khaleja first day first show with a very enthusiastic, full theater.
What a treat to finally see Mahesh on the big screen! Seriously it was thrilling. The writer and director of Khaleja is Trivikram Srinivas, he also teamed with Mahesh on Athadu and was the writer and director for Pawan Kalyan's hit Jalsa. Khaleja is Mahesh's first turn in an out and out comedic role. Judging by the crowd reaction in the theater I would say he succeeded greatly. The audience was in splits for 3/4's of the film. As a non Telugu speaker I missed out on much of the comedy, but was able to follow the plot and enjoy Mahesh completely. Apologies ahead of time if I am way off base in what happens, please set me right in the comments section.

        The film begins in a village in Rajasthan where people are mysteriously dying. The village elder sends a holy man of sorts, played wonderfully by Shafi, to search for a savior for the village. Then comes the Hero Introduction which is a slo-mo fight sequence of Mahesh fighting to get water in the Rajasthan desert. My favorite part is when he runs on top of a wall and you think he is going to jump on to a horse and ride away a la Takarri Donga, (seriously my heart was a flutter over that!) and instead he uncovers a motorbike and speeds off. It was a very funny bait and switch.
        While he is in  Rajasthan he runs into Sunil who is a reporter of sorts. I assume he is explaining to Sunil how he happened to be there and begins a flashback of him as a Taxi driver in Hyderabad. Here we find out how he meets Anoushka.
Anoushka creates havoc for Mahesh when ever she runs into him. I think 3 taxis get destroyed altogether and Mahesh ends up in the hospital after one encounter. Mahesh has excellent comedic timing and his dialog delivery is similar to Athadu and Pokiri but in a much more open and friendly way, if that makes sense. He still mutters and mumbles but with a happier smiley persona than the other films. After recounting all his bad luck brought to him by Anoushka, Sunil and Mahesh coincidently run into her in the Rajasthan desert. She had been brought to Rajasthan by helocoptor on a date and fearing for her honor, had run away from the guy. (These are the kind of plot points I have learned to just smile and enjoy and not question in Telugu movies, I am after all just along for the ride!) Now there are more hilarious  mishaps as Anoushka, Mahesh and Sunil travel throught the desert. 

     The interval fight is really cool. I loved how it is choreographed, Mahesh is attacked and injured but manages to fight back in that over the top Tollywood super hero way. It's pretty bloody and awesome! The injured Mahesh is found by the holy man Shafi and he is taken to the stricken village and nursed backed to health.  Now he is mistaken for a god by the villagers who beg him for help. He tries to convince them he is not a god but every time he tries to talk them out of it something happens that makes him seem like he is performing miracles. Now we find out too that Evil Business man Prakash Raj is behind the poisonings in the village and the rest of the movie has Mahesh and Prakash Bad locking horns.  Prakash really isn't in the movie enough and the final confrontation between him and Mahesh makes you wish he had more to do. He is awesome as usual.
   The music by Mani Sharma is just ok, he has had better soundtracks in my opinion.  I didn't like the first song Taxi Taxi at all. But the song Sada Siva  is unforgettable.  I just love that song. It's picturised mostly on Shafi and he does a great job with it.   Here is the song promo, full songs not available yet.  

I also enjoyed the picturizations of  Bhoom Shakanaka and Makathika. I think Makathika is my favorite. Mahesh looks fabulous and it is fun to watch him dance. I think Makathika is choreographed by Prem Rakshit if I'm not mistaken.

All in all I enjoyed my first Mahesh experience in the theater.  Because much of the comedy was dialog based I missed lots of the humor. I was envious of the rest of the audience throwing their heads back in laughter but now I feel like I have a whole new movie to experience and look forward to when the dvd comes out. I am also hoping for the day when subtitles are as routine for Tollywood movies as they are for Bollywood.