Going to watch a Telugu film of a big star and coming out grumbling over the stereotype is the same as visiting a beach and complaining about sand in your shoe . Will a star’s enormous fan base appreciate an engaging, script-driven film or should a director make a film banking solely on the star’s strength to reach out to the fan base? The Telugu film industry has been plagued by this debate over the decades and will continue to be. There’s a section that wants to see its heroes elevated to the status of demi-gods and there’s a section that’s not averse to potboilers but wants a film with a well-narrated story, taut screenplay and performances. How much you like and appreciate certain films depends on which side of the divide you are in.
This is the dangerous trend of the Telugu film industry which causes people to refer to movies as “full meals for fans”. When a movie is called this, it generally means that the hero strikes twice the usual number of poses and enacts a large number of crowd-pleasing antics in the movie for no rhyme or reason. These are also movies that are solely aimed at the fans of the various stars on the horizon.
If you’re an ardent NTR fan, you’ll love the way he beats goons to a pulp, reels off both one-liners and lengthy dialogues with ease and how he shoulders a film that has little to offer in terms of a story line in the first half. When measured by this yardstick, Ramaiya Vastavaiya will lead to healthy burps from most of the fans, with a few of them perhaps also collapsing due to over-eating.
If you’re not a fan of the star and go in expecting a well-made film, you’ll disagree with the lack of sensitivity with which this film shows NTR wooing Samantha, And with so many complaints about the way we glorify eve-teasing in our movies, is it really necessary to show the hero pursue the heroine in such a manner? you’ll get tired of the one-liners, you’ll get bored since it takes a long time before the film gets to the story, and above all, you’ll cringe at the way this film depicts a lustful villain with lewd dialogues and body language. But when measured by – creativity, originality, subtlety or any such actual movie-making attribute – the general audience will emerge starved and dehydrated, probably on the verge of collapse due to a total lack of these factors.
Harish Shankar’s latest offing ‘Ramayya Vasthavayya’ is no different from any of the previous Telugu revenge dramas and its clichés. The film opens with Mukesh Rishi surviving an attempt on his life during his daughter’s engagement and then veers off to introduce Nandu (NTR), a college student, Except that he is not seen in college even once in the entire movie, who woos Mukesh Rishi’s younger daughter Akarsha (Samantha). Nandu wins the trust of Akarsha, her sister and their elderly caretaker Rohini Hattangady. He travels with them to their hamlet for the older sister’s wedding and offers to help Mukesh Rishi who still faces death threat. The film begins as a harmless romance turns out to be a revenge drama.
The plot of Jr NTR-Samantha-Shruti Haasan starrer is as old as the hills where the hero loses his “first” love-interest to a bunch of dreadful baddies and vows to take revenge of her death. Meantime, he encounters the another lady who happens to be the daughter of one of the villains and finally the film ends on a positive note, when the hero finishes all the goons and moves forward with the heroine.
NTR tries his hand at comedy with a fair amount of success, emotes pretty well, dances like a dream (though the dances look repetitive by the final song), and fights as ridiculously as the stunt masters tell him to. He has also gone back to his lean look, and this movie definitely features him at his best in his now-thin, now-fat career.
Samantha and Shruti Hassan are perfect fillers and hardly have roles worth mentioning. The appeal of Chinmayi’s voice for Samantha is also wearing off. The other actors – and there are a lot of them – all go through the motions.
The first half, like in 10,450 of NTR’s movies, consists of Nandu leading a happy-go-lucky lifestyle, falling in love with the heroine Akarsha (Samantha), eve-teasing her until she reciprocates, and an interval bang with him hacking about 50 people to death.
The second half almost immediately plunges into a flashback, which features our hero in an extremely loving family (the moment you see all the laughing faces pampering him, you know they are up for slaughter), another heroine Ammulu (Shruti Hassan) whom he falls in love with and gets his big family to accept, a big massacre with the villains killing 50 people and hero killing twice the number with only him and the main villain escaping unscathed, a prompt return to the present, and the final showdown where good (the hero who kills roughly 300-400 people in the movie) man vanquishes the villain (who hardly manages to hurt the hero’s family). Of course, with 2-3 songs added to the mix.
Harish Shankar does a lazy job with Ramaiya Vastavaiya. Showing Rohini Hattangadi as a granny who exercises listening to Sheela Ki Jawaani and whose phone ringtone is Gangnam Style is seriously not funny. The punch lines are all there, but the situations in which they are used take the punch out of them. Thaman scores his same old music. It is cacophonic and leaves you with a splitting headache.
At the end of this film, too, we wonder what makes our heroes take up these projects. Ramayya Vastavayya is like just about every other movie NTR’s done – Aadi, Samba and Narasimhudu feature pretty much exactly the same plot.
There is only so much gore that you can take, so much violence that you can tolerate, and so many hacked limbs and bodies that you can see without gagging. What you can’t find fault in the film is Jr NTR’s pitch-perfect performance. Especially his dance moves are very good. On the whole, the film fails to meet the expectations and turns into a damp squib. It is not worth watching unless you’re a fan of Jr NTR. Ramaiya Vastavaiya crosses those limits comfortably. And a running time of 166 minutes means this Rammayya overstays his welcome. Go by all means if you are a fanboy, but for better results, spend the long weekend at home.
Sadly, like most other big-ticket films, this too strictly made on hero worship convention, contrary to script-driven films. Hope Telugu filmmakers try to break these grounds and stereotypes in days to come in order to offer good films to audiences.