The film, to start with, dangerously begins to feel like another 'Lovely' via the 2G network but Vijay Kumar Konda (the debutante director) veers the story on a surprisingly unpredictable path as the film progresses. With a hackneyed story where one or two mistaken identities form the crux, it is easy to bore the audience, especially because not many have done fairly good at the genre in the past. Gunde Jhaari.. would have slipped into that routine trajectory but, quite untrue to the lyrical title, the story refuses to slip into a plainness that is characteristic of such films and instead entertains us with a breezy tapestry that is enjoyable. At the interval point, we are convinced that the director has not only not included the very many characters (with the exception of the Raghu Babu-Duvvasi Mohan track and the two amateurish fights) without a reason but also the title itself is metaphorical in a curious way.
What marks out the film are its two twists somewhere in the middle, and the defining scene (where we see Nithin reeling off his heart-felt emotions) which comes towards the end. A riveting screenplay is neatly woven to make these three significant scenes convincing. The dialogues give a crystal gazing into the characters' thinking.
It does get a bit unsettling at a point (in the second half) because we do not quite understand if Nithya is a strong-minded, jilted lover girl out to avenge or just a wavering type whose split personality is getting the better of her. In other words, is she taking "revenge" or indulging in "romance"?
To anyone who knows that for all the nauseating insensitivity that the charming male lead shows throughout the film, he will surely have a change of heart when he reveals himself to us as a virtuous human being who values the "emotional bond" over the woman with a Bhumika-like oomph, the climax may not come as a big clap-worthy moment. But the cute pair that Nithin and Nitya are, they sizzle spectacularly and with the help of the dialogue writer, make an otherwise we-have-seen-it-before denouement a feel-good watch.
Narration-wise Gunde Jhaari.. is way better than what we get to see in even most of the so-called feel-good films in Telugu. Barring a few parody-like situations, two in-your-face gay sleaze scenes (it is bold of Nithin to have done the lusty act, but he doesn't have the malleability in him to look convincing) and a couple of forgettable songs, it is a gentle reminder of last year's 'Ishq', complete with Harsha Vardhan's apt lines, but sans the memorable work of PC Sreeram.
It starts off elevating the hero's character through a voice-over, but as we see Isha Talwar introduced with a glamorous flavour, we take it for granted that she has a game-changing part in the story. For the rest of the film, we see her falling for a dark-skinned software employee, while it is Nithya who comes to occupy the central stage.
The director does seem to bank too much on Nithya's acting, though it is demanded by the story, one would have liked to see her lesser.
It might be subjective to disparagingly ask why would a person who has been unwittingly taken for a ride for just 33 days will want to take it so seriously to her heart that she feels it worthy to sketch a game plan (which does look like an overreaction)? Had the "revenge" element not been undermined, the film would have looked quite ridiculous and the writer-director duo have got the plot perfectly right by introducing the damsel in distress as a they should have - a dithering damsel.
The way the Isha-Madhu part was dealt stands out for its maturity. It is to the credit of the writer that he accords primacy to the characters, and not the story, which is reminiscent of sensible Bollywood directors' style.
GJG is far from being a perfect film though. There was no need to involve Nithya's elders in the story, it would have worked fine if Nithya was shown to have secured the job on her own. The fights were insubstantial and also inconsequential to the plot. Nithin's moment of realization could have been dealt in an impactful manner (that is, there should have been a soulful filler between the scene where he talks to the two characters at his doorstep and his eventual confession before the girl). Anoop Rubens's songs are a letdown for sure; his RR is, however, remarkable for its quality.
The performances are all spot-on. More than Nithya, it is Nithin who comes with a refreshing touch. The rest of the star cast do a fine job. If Isha has to hone her acting skills, Jwala must be forgotten for songs.
The cinematography and the editing departments do full justice.
Tollywood would one day come of age if only its writers-directors look Bollywood-wards only for style and not for content, stories should be developed by piercing into a man's mind, a woman's mind, and as for the situations they will find aplenty if they observe people's lives or read rich literature. Remakes are quite absurd - whether the film is a Baang Baja Baarat or the director is a Shankar.
Vijay and Harsha Vardhan take the little step forward. May their tribe increase!
Verdict: Gunde Jhaari. is a breezy rom-com that is difficult to avoid. Watch it to relive Ishq-like feel, yet again.