Fidaa movie review


Sekhar Kammula burst into public prominence with Anand (his second movie) in 2004. It was a well-made movie with a prominent role for the female protagonist. That was the debut movie for Kamalinee Mukherjee in Telugu and Telugu Film Industry didn’t exactly remember the last time they saw a debutante perform with such aplomb.

Say Pallavi is the debutante here and 13 years after Anand, we see a debutante performing like an accomplished performer.

The movie story, on the face of it, is simple: boy meets girl, both like each other and hesitate to say it to each other. It’s after this point that movies take a different route. Sekhar Kammula seeks to extend this bit to an ego clash and how they go about resolving it.

Varun (Varun Tej) and his two brothers (an older one and a younger one) live in the United States of America. While scouring through prospective profiles for the elder brother, they zero in on a family in rural Telangana. What catches the brothers’ notice is the mention of ‘no caste.’

It’s here that we are introduced to Bhanumathi (Sai Pallavi) and her sister, Renuka. While Renuka is the silent one, Bhanumathi is the gregarious, boisterous and punch-in-your-face character. So, the elder brother, Raju falls for Renuka and waits to call on Varun for a second opinion (or so he says).

With the marriage scheduled for the ensuing week, Varun and Bhanumathi get close to the each other after the initial skirmish. A misunderstanding on the part of Bhanumathi drives a wedge in the relationship. When it is time for Varun to propose, she rejects the proposal. From then on, it is a tale of one-upmanship.

This is a regular story and needed an able director to be at the helm.

Sekhar Kammula is just the man the script required. He is superb at conceiving scenes. While the story seems simple, Sekhar weaves the scenes brilliantly. There are so many scenes where he lets the dialogues create the necessary impact. There are many scenes which grab our attention. One such scene involves a phone call between Satyam Rajesh, friend of the hero, and Sai Pallavi. He mentions that women in America would stand in a queue to kiss him and why is she being so adamant in talking to him. The repartee, by Sai Pallavi, is what brings the house down. She asks him to call Guinness Book of records instead.

The cinematography is good. The way drizzle plays a part in the movie is worth mentioning. Sai Pallavi is a choreographer’s dream. She does a good job in the wedding song and the choreographer for the song deserves a good round of applause. To make a romantic movie without a hummable melody might have been a crime some years ago, but you don’t miss it in this movie

Another thing that Sekhar Kammula aced in the movie is the casting. Sai Pallavi acts so brilliantly that you would feel she was born for this role. She is a perfect fit for Bhanumathi’s role. She dances well, emotes well and to master slang in a language that’s not her mother tongue takes some doing. Years later, she can fondly look back at her performance in this movie. She is the heart and soul of the movie. One would wonder why the movie wasn’t named Bhanumathi.

Varun Tej acts well, but he needs to work on his diction especially when the actor opposite him is ripping into her role with ease. He also should take care in maintaining the continuity in body form unless the role demands for the opposite. In the movie, he frequents between lean and bulky pretty often.

Apart from Sai Pallavi, it is Sekhar Kammula who will walk away with his head held high. His casting of Satyam Rajesh is a masterstroke. In a recent interview to a daily, he said that he wanted to name the movie as Musuru (drizzle) but thought Fidaa would be better. Though Musuru would’ve been apt considering the constant drizzle in the movie and the character sketch of Sai Pallavi, Fidaa is a name that’s more appealing. The undertone of Agriculture and father-daughter relationship is as subtle as possible, without being overbearing on the plot. If I have to be pathological and criticize for the sake of criticizing then Sekhar Kammula should’ve shown the time difference between India and USA a little more realistically (Mind you this thing is only for a scene)

Before I wrap it all up, it should be mentioned that Sai Pallavi’s character, Bhanumathi is a fan of Pawan Kalyan and there are references to his movies, songs and dialogues. Nobody can afford to say #cheppanubrother, can they?

Usually an agrarian family is shown to be based in the coastal districts. By basing it in Telangana, Sekhar doesn’t tread the usual path and it is a relief. It’s the subtlety and finesse with which he weaves the scenes that makes the movie a must-watch.

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An edited version of the review appeared on


Guest iin London



Matrudevobhava, Pitrudevobhava, Acharyadevobhava, Athithidevobhava


When you working towards an image, it is advised to act in as many different roles as possible. Once you have the image, the advice is juxtaposed and you are asked to act in as similar roles as possible in an effort to maintain the image.


Paresh Rawal has acted in several brilliant movies. He delivered in each of those movies. He grew as an actor in each of these movies. His oeuvre consists of various roles, but after Hera Pheri, the performer has been overtaken by the entertainer.


Guest iin London is what happens when you attempt a sequel packaged as franchise. Of course, Paresh Rawal is a much better choice for a role in a franchise -series than the two actors we have gotten  used to seeing over the years (Dhoom, anyone?)


The movie starts off with the antics of Paresh Rawal in a long flight. The montage does seem funny at the beginning but the effect wears off as you see more of it. That’s pretty much the case with the movie too.


The plot is simple. Paresh Rawal and Tanvi Azmi, as guests, land up at Karthik Aaryan’s house unaanounced and unwanted. How they go about setting up his life and gradually, creating a few problems in his life is what the movie is all about. Probably they chose Karthik Aaryan because he has no one to call upon as his own and wants to settle down in UK; the reason why approaches Kriti Kharbanda to marry him and leave him after a while, for a price of course – cue for some sexual innuendo. There is a lot of talk about sex in the movie: Viagra, sexual harassment, the farts of your lover smelling like a rose (Yes, that is a line in an extended paean about farts)

The bit about farts by Paresh Rawal is so overdone that you are saying sorry to yourself, the same way in which Paresh Rawal says sorry to Karthik’s boss, for putting yourself through it. The only time it seems genuinely funny is when Karthik and Kriti dream of them as Al-Qaeeda operatives and even while shooting them, Paresh Rawal farts and Tanvi Azmi says ‘kya hain na, inko pet ka problem hain’ like always.

The way Paresh Rawal goes about makes you feel that he wants to strip himself of all the acting credentials. A man who has given so many brilliant performances seems a shadow of himself here and is reduced to rabble-rousing. He falls to ground zero (metaphorical, geographical and literal) before redeeming himself. His conversations with Sanjay Mishra’s Pakistani character are what wet dreams of his political critics made of. They are below the belt, unwanted and frequent. That this movie will go unnoticed by many will be a blessing for the actor as well as the politician.

Tanvi Azmi of Guest iin London is unrecognizable from the Tanvi Azmi of Akele Hum Akele Tum, Yeh Jawaani hain Deewani. Once you have seen the movie, come back home and watch the scene from Akele Hum Akele Tum where she pleads Manisha Koirala to come back into Aamir Khan’s life. That is what the lady is capable of and she is wasted in this movie. That, according to me is criminal. She says ‘Kya hain na inka pet kharab hain’ in the movie more than anything else.


Karthik Aaryan, the man who apocryphally delivered the monologue in Pyaar Ka Punchnama in a single shot, does well, but like Kriti Kharbanda, he has big shoes to fill. It’s essentially his tale, but it seems anything but his tale. Kriti Kharbanda stars in the movie and that’s pretty much it.


The movie is shot indoors for most part but when it goes outdoors, the poor camerawork shows. Even indoors, the lighting seems poor for most part. When you see the work of the actors and technicians, it seems to be a movie made in a hurry.


Verdict: You can go to sleep and come back once the movie finishes 

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An edited version of this post appeared in

DJ Duvvada Jagannatham review


A few years ago, after delivering a stupendous hit with Magadheera, Ram Charan acted in a dud called Orange. In my opinion, it wasn’t a bad movie. It was spoiled by a bad climax. One of the things with Orange was the fact that the storyline would have been similar if it was shot in Sydney or Amalapuram. That it was shot in Sydney made no difference to the movie, like shooting in New York did to Ye Maaya Chesaave.

Similarly Duvvada Jagannatham would’ve been the same if it was Pinnamaneni Sarath or Dandu Ashok or Palivela Suman Shetty in the title.  That the titular role was a Brahmin made no difference to the movie. If at all, it served as a vehicle to show the conversion of the protagonist from timidity to ferociousness.

Yes, Allu Arjun recites Purusha Suktam and Gayatri Mantram with ease in the movie, but was it all required ?



In the late 80’s, Chiranjeevi acted in a lot of run-of-the-mill movies, but he always redeemed them; be it with his dances, be it with comic timing or be it with his fights. That was the reason he grew up to be a megastar in the industry. There are a few subtle references to him in the movie.

The film has nothing going for it in terms of a story. Helpless police takes the help of a person who can’t see (hear) crimes committed in front of him. To weave a story around this point might be tough; not if you are Harish Shankar.

Harish Shankar seeks the help of entendre, caricaturisation, exposing the heroine and exploits the stardom of Allu Arjun to weave the story, however feeble it may be. For a man so good with writing, you wonder what was the need for him to seek refuge in entendre. For a man talking about ‘dignity of labour’, it sure does stink when he talks about the usage of condoms.

He has definitely travelled southwards in terms of his directorial capabilities since Mirpakay. With more intent in satiating the fans desires, he has lost touch with good filmmaking. I would want to see Harish Shankar make a movie the way Harish Shankar wants it, not the way the fans of the hero want to see it.

Allu Arjun, much like Chiranjeevi of the yore, tries to redeem this movie; with his dances, fights and comic timing. He succeeds to an extent and fails in large part due to the director. He remains one of the few heroes whose films make for watchable fare. From Sarrainoddu on, there seems to be some sort of narcissism creeping in the way he goes about the things. He would certainly be better off without it.

Pooja Hegde’s best moments come when she is asked to sing a line or two from a song during the audio release or the publicity for the movie. She has nothing to do in the movie apart from appearing like a made-up doll and exposing the mid-riff as and when necessitated by the director.

Around the same time last year, Rao Ramesh was part of a disastrous movie called Brahmotsavam. He shone like nobody else in that movie. There is something special that he gets to every role of his, in every movie, regardless of the duration. Every role has his signature, much like the way Allu Arjun wants to do it while dancing. Except that, Rao Ramesh doesn’t exactly need to sign. To borrow from a line in the movie and re-phrase it , ‘He makes us see the character, not the man playing it.’ Even in this movie, he shines the best. His idiosyncrasies in the movie are superb to watch

Subba Raju does well in his role and it could’ve been better

Verdict: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Similarly, DJ by any other name wouldn’t have made a difference. 

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Raarondoi Veduka Choodam review


There was a time when author-backed roles were few and far between. We have come far from those days. Every actor/actress (rather, hero/heroine) these days aspires to star in one film where they have the author-backed role.

The thing with such roles which makes people crave for the them is the fact that the entire story revolves around them. When we scratch the surface, the author-backed role always needs a role that runs parallel to theirs, but isn’t given the same level of importance; like Konkana Sen in Wake Up, Sid, like Shahid Kapoor in Jab We Met. Closer home; Raghuvaran in Suswagatham, Nagesh in Tholi Prema. This generally happens because the actors in the parallel help prop the film up when the actors in the author-backed role fall into a tedium.

Raarondoi Veduka Choodam doesn’t waste much time in establishing who has the author-backed role. It’s clear from the time titles roll.  After a little while into the movie, the grandmother drills the granddaughter about the sort of a groom she has to marry. She does, but after applying a patch to those Quixotic claims.

The obsession that Telugu Film Industry has for directors with hits running in their recent past filmography is legendary. So, it wasn’t a surprise that Nagarjuna chose Kalyan Krishna, who directed his previous blockbuster. Added to this was the fact that it was a home production venture. Probably all these added up to Nagarjuna proclaiming that the movie would be a blockbuster (one of the two blockbusters he had promised to his fans; one for each of his sons).

Rakul Preet, in the author-backed role was an extension of her Venkatadri Express self: referring to herself and her emotions in third person. Yes, she has hits, but she hasn’t quite reached a level where her acting capabilities are extraordinary. Her preparation/ her willingness to submit to director’s imagination does show as she cracks the look part of her character. Her expressions at times, seemed off-touch or a tad too late. The good thing about her portrayal is that she isn’t too far off the mark. Probably the next time she bags an author-backed role, she might want to do it in a comfort zone.

Naga Chaitanya does something that he hasn’t attempted before: a gregarious role. From what we have seen of him from his previous movies, he seems to perform well when he has to strip himself of his ego. He does the same in a scene in 100% love and does the same in a sequence here. He excels in the scene and has also carefully built his screen presence. He needs to continue doing the same: keep experimenting with different roles.

One thing the director, Kalyan Krishna, does well is to get the casting right. One thing he doesn’t: overcrowding the movie. There are so many characters in a blink-and-you-will-miss roles.

Jagapathi Babu, Sampath and a host of other actors are all good in the roles given to them.

Verdict: There’s not much you are going to miss by missing this  movie

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Baahubali 2 review


A movie with a slow first half. The second half bursts into prominence with the superbly shot war sequences. It also sets the viewer up for what should be a very good and better second part

This is how I ended when I wrote about Baahubali. Now having seen Baahubali 2, I can venture to say though the movie wasn’t bad by any measure, it did not match up to the expectation that I had set on the film. Whose fault is it? Mine or the director’s? It’s a combination of both.

While the first part started with a superb song and a sequence that makes you invest your thought process into the movie, the second part starts off as an exercise to eulogise Amarendra Baahubali.

The titles in this movie roll brilliantly: a sequestered attempt to tell the previous movie story through statues. In this movie, constrained by the need to move the story forward, Rajamouli takes his own time to whip up a frenzy. Like the first part, the first-half lags for quite a bit. If we have to describe it in the form of an anatomy of a wave, it hits a trough straight from the crest. The amplitude was ‘Baahubali’ sized one.

There are scenes that grab your attention in this drab phase too. One of them is where Rana and Nasar keep comparing Satyaraj to a dog. He reads through their scheming minds and says the loyalty of a dog is enough to do it. Another scene is where Anushka struggles to release two arrows from a bow but Prabhas teaches her to shoot three arrows at one go. That scene is also indicative of chemistry between the lead pair.

The drab phase seems drab because of the attempt on the part of Rajamouli to induce forced humour. It was needless. It is at this stage that we are drawn away from the movie. Thankfully, it doesn’t last for a long while.

Anushka’s entry into Mahishmathi and her subsequent showdown with Ramya Krishna are what wet dreams of actors are made of. They both excel. Ramya Krishna more so. She is a delight whenever she is on the screen. She has a presence that can’t be replicated.

Once Rajamouli gets the story moving forward, he doesn’t stop. He goes full-throttle. Rajamouli is let down by Background Music or lack there of. Keeravani does let him down horribly in this movie.


Prabhas, much like the movie, meanders along in the first-half of the movie; finding himself as a part of an irrelevant comedy thread, he stutters along before coming into life in the action sequences. The man has screen presence that justifies everything. Even when his visage changes from a commoner to a warrior in an instant, you believe it. His role as Amarendra Baahubali has got more screen time than that of Mahendra Baahubali. He comes into his own after coming back to Mahishmathi.

One of the best scenes of the movie involves his killing at the hands of Satyaraj. Though it does provide the answer to the question ‘Why Kattappa Killed Baahubali?’, Rajamouli isn’t driven by the need to answer the question. He doesn’t get swayed by the need to take cinematic liberties to answer the question.

For a certain length, the movie concentrates on the conflict between Devasena and Sivagami, played by Anushka and Ramya Krishna respectively. That’s the time when Amarendra Baahubali’s unwavering devotion to his mother comes through and Prabhas plays it superbly. Caught between wife and mother, he chooses to follow the right path as taught by his mother. The mother-son relationship is shown brilliantly though it is just an undercurrent. That comes across beautifully well because of Prabhas and Ramya Krishna.

Prabhas can only grow from here. One question though, has Telugu Film Industry lost Prabhas as an actor exclusive to its films? If it has, probably Prabhas might well be on his way to becoming the first pan-Indian superstar.


Rana’s role in a way reminds us of Manisha Koirala’s role in Dil Se. He doesn’t have a lot to say in the first half of the movie. His menace really sets in when he starts talking. He says  his rule’s effectiveness was known by how much he tortured Anushka and with her missing from the kingdom, it isn’t known anymore. Aided by dialogues, Rana becomes a different beast altogether. Of all the roles from the first part, his is the one that’s let down most by the director.


Anushka’s role in this movie is longer and better. Nobody envisaged the conflict angle between her and Ramya Krishna. Both shine in the respective roles. Her chemistry with Prabhas is worth watching. Before Magadheera, heroines were treated with a bit of contempt in Rajamouli’s movies. Anushka’s role is well-etched and is on par with Prabhas for the length of her role.


Ramya Krishna, to borrow from a review for another actress in another movie, has the other actors for breakfast, lunch and dinner whenever she is in the scene. She adds to the role and makes you want to thank Rajamouli for his inspired choice


Satyaraj and Nasar being the seasoned actors that they are live in the roles given to them. One has to feel for Subba Raju for accepting the role that he did, but it’s his death that sets the ball rolling for #WKKB. It’s in keeping with what he had said in an interview – I look for what the role does, not the length of the role.


Rajamouli leaves nothing untied in the movie. If one has to be critical, it can be said that he could’ve tightened the first-half in both the movies better. While he himself said that he lets the visuals do the talking, here he lets the actors also do the talking. There are good dialogues for everyone in the movie.

The war scenes in the second part don’t match up to the ones in the first part. He takes time in this movie to establish the characters in the movie and rightly so. To reveal the ending of the movie and yet make the movie-goers wait with anticipation for his movie is a feather in his cap

There are a few scenes where he takes the cinematic liberties to the limit. At that stage, one is reminded of a Shankar interview where he said that one cannot limit dreams.


Verdict: Though a natural progression to the first part, this movie has you craving for more in bits and parts. When the director gets his bearings right, we are in for a ride

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What made me like Chiranjeevi

In an episode of Raghavendra Rao’s Soundaryalahiri, Ravi Teja and Harish Shankar were attending as guests. They were discussing about some mundane scenes and songs. Since both of them weren’t associated with Raghavendra Rao’s movies after they gained their name and fame, they had to resort to praising Raghavendra Rao’s movies.

At a certain point in that interview, Ravi Teja and Harish Shankar were made to talk about Rowdy Alludu.

They were shown a scene from the movie and were asked to talk about it. While the director tried to make the talk centre around himself, Ravi Teja and Harish Shankar were insistent on giving the credit to Chiranjeevi and his last minute improvisations. Raghavendra Rao had to divert the topic to stop the unending discussion on Chiranjeevi

You can watch the bit of the interview here and laugh to your heart’s content

When Chiranjeevi announced that he would be making a comeback, it brought goosebumps to a lot of people. He was away for a period of 9 years, 5 months and 15 days from the turnstiles (Time between two releases, as a hero).

So, when Khaidi no 150 released, it was a pleasure to see the man not losing much of the sheen he had before he went off on an extended sabbatical. It was a delight to see him refer to his previous hits, do the simple steps in a stylised manner and going back to tics.

Somehow, the sum was not equal to the parts in the movie. Yes, he danced well; yes, he did do comedy well; yes, he excelled in the action scenes, but there was something lacking. Was it the fact that he saw his best, many times over, before his sabbatical? Was the age showing on him? Was he trying too hard to impress us? I think it’s a combination of all of these things.

When I saw him matching steps with women aged lesser than half his age or closer to half his age, I marvelled at his agility. I thought how can a 61-year old man dance the way he did. After I came back home from the movie, I was thinking why should a man of his age need to dance the way he did. He could’ve chosen to play his age and nobody would’ve complained. He didn’t. He wanted to satiate the thirst of millions of his fans.

A lot of times, in the present-day movies, you would find the heroes making pointed references to their lineage. A few heroes from his family are also guilty of the crime. This wasn’t the case in 1980’s — the time when Chiranjeevi was rising up the stardom ladder. He had no one to lean back on. He came up the hard way; through his own efforts with no backing whatsoever.

In the hierarchy of superstars in Telugu Film Industry, he can be, at best, called a ‘third generation’ superstar. So, while growing as a star he didn’t have a lot of aggrandising dialogues in his movies. He must be one of the very stars whose moniker changed mid-way in his career — from ‘Supreme Hero’ to ‘Megastar’. The change happened in his 101st movie: Maranamrudangam.

First time Chiranjeevi had the name ‘Megastar’ prefixed was in Maranamrudangam

For a man who attained stardom in 1983 with the movie Khaidhi, he was on a roll till 1995. It was an year in which he saw failure like never before. The repercussions were there for all to see. Before making the jump into politics, 1996 remains the only year where a movie of Chiranjeevi didn’t release.

He came back with Hitler and he started playing his age, nearly, after that. Gone were the loveable rascal sort of roles and this was also the time he began buying into his image as a megastar. The fans were at crossroads as the star that they loved wasn’t portraying the roles that they wanted him to. Credit to Chiranjeevi then that he made them believe in the roles he portrayed.

The year 1996, in addition to being a barren year for Chiranjeevi fans, was also an year where he looked back on the mistakes of 1995 and sort of turned away from the roles that made him a star.

JVAS, Gang Leader, Rowdy Alludu, Gharana Mogudu, Mutta Mestri and Mechanic Alludu were followed by drab movies. The stretch of movies stands him in good stead till date. Mention the cyclone of 1990 to anyone in Krishna District, chances are that they will remember the pain they took to watch Jagadeka Veerudu Athiloka Sundari than the pain the cyclone left in its wake.

So what altered? Combinations altered. Mechanic Alludu was the last movie in which Chiranjeevi and Vijayshanti shared a frame. Their first movie together was Devanthakudu. Their pairing lasted for 9 years. In those 9 years, Chiranjeevi acted in 52 movies with 19 different heroines. After Mechanic Alludu, he acted in 30 movies with 27 different heroines.

So, when he came back in Khaidhi no 150, it must have been a relief for the fans in a way to see him harking back to the pre-Hitler days than the post-Hitler days.

Satellite rights


A few years ago, I delved into the reasons that compel a movie-goer to watch a movie more than once . I was forced to think about it when I saw a couple of movies on the eve of New Year and on New Year. The movies were Khaleja and Manmadhudu

Manmadhudu released towards the fag end of 2002 and Khaleja released in 2010. I have seen these movies multiple times; so many times that I know what dialogue follows and what scenes to wait for. I saw these movies after a long period. I found myself laughing thinking about what was to come next. This after watching the movie so many times.

That these movies can be watched with the family (notwithstanding the language, in case of Khaleja) adds to the aura. Growing up, VCR/VCP was used mainly to watch the prints at home because the movies took time to release in the places we stayed in. As time wore on, movies (at least the big heroes movies) released in every nook and corner of the Telugu speaking states. With time at a premium, people started to wait for the movie to be aired on the television channels.

When the practice of airing movies on television channels started, I was flummoxed as to why people preferred to watch the same movies repeated time and over again. A movie that attained cult status despite the number of times it was aired; it was in the news recently for the amount a television channel grabbed the satellite rights for after the first channel let go of it  

There exist audience for movies on television. This was realised long back by Zee TV. They went ahead and made a movie to be exclusively aired on television in the mid-90’s. They failed miserably because the movie didn’t have too many re-runs.

These days the craze for a movie is gauged by the amount that’s shelled out as satellite rights. Sometimes a movie that doesn’t do well at the turnstiles but still does well in the drawing rooms is said to have found a ‘niche’ audience.

There are times when a channel goes overboard and airs a flop movie – at the box office and in the drawing rooms- many times over. The movie then acquires a cult following of a different kind; Sooryavamsham on Sony max is an example for this.


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