Disclaimer: If you want to watch Balupu without being able to predict the story, venture out only without knowing the star cast.
First things first. Ravi Teja has finally wriggled himself out of the sleepwalking mode to deliver a dekko, true to his Mass Maharaja image (though not as crazy as his Vikramarkudu act). He gets to show three variations, and the true blue 'balupu' avatar is the best of them all.
With any other writer, predictability would have made 'Balupu' mean nothing more than an inflated balloon. But when Kona Venkat (co-written by Veligonda Srinivas) is around, it cannot be that way. He experiments comically with mass-y ideas and caters to both the class and mass audiences. He achieves this gargantuan feat by milling his tested formula with a few tweaks and dishes out a spice-peppered script topped with the sensibilities of his director. The idea is VARIATIONS. Sreenu Vaitla is the host of this contagion and Kona is his estranged carrier. It has infected Gopichand Malineni and the result is action plus entertainment.
Puncturing the 'paga+prateekaram' tyre when the audience most expects it to go the whole hog takes guts and the makers of Balupu, including RT, have enough. When a mimickrian of Ravi Teja's quirkiness is the hero, the impossible would be child's play. Within 30 minutes of imitating Balakrishna's public speech delivery, he cheerfully and confidently morphs into Shafi and the parody actually makes Shafi's now-boring act look interesting.
Coming to how the writer-director duo make-up a routine story into an engaging film, they weave a circus around a serious villain without asking us to suspend our disbelief like we have to do when watching the films such as Naayak. Our villains have had a sentimental profile of their own, not just avarice and a murderous agenda. It is this quality that Kona Venkat exploits and instead of using an item girl or a comedian like the writers/directors of the bygone era, he makes the hero do the masala comedy. That's how Mahesh won the BO battle through Dookudu. That's how Ravi Teja will win a battle for the first time since Mirapakai.
Balupu's storyline is no big deal, what is enjoyable is the treatment, the hero, and the mandatory 'garam masala' star - Brahmi, who delivers a few laughs.
Ravi (RT) leads the life of a recovery agent and the only complaint his father (Prakash Raj) has is that his son refuses to get married. Enter Shruti and Brahmi (as Crazy Mohan) and they both like to live a crazy life by victimising teenage guys. Ravi takes it upon himself to avenge his friend's loss of money and plots to teach a lesson to the duo.
In other parts of South India, Poorna (Ashutosh Raja) is hunting for Shankar and Nanaji, who we understand are on the run. The up-and-coming twist at the interval would come as a surprise only if you haven't watched a single film since Samarasimha Reddy.
What happens thereafter too doesn't hold much surprise.
If story-wise Balupu is just about ok, Malineni's experiments with Ravi Teja save the day. The Settlement Shankar variation is neatly dealt, the attitude he shows in the presence of Commissioner babai, the way the scene begins and ends bears testament to what a director can do with his touch.
Overall, the dialogue pack a punch. However, it would help if our heroes are not made to make similes out of the 'vishwasam' of 'kukkalu' and their power..
Age is gradually showing on Brahmi's face, the imitation of Pawan, Allu Arjun and Shafi notwithstanding, his comedy is routine.
If Ravi Teja walks away with an energetic performance after a gap of half-a-dozen movies, Shruti looks drop dead gorgeous. Her sizzling presence is sure to be a plus. Anjali doesn't convince with her expressions in the last heavy scene of her, her diction too needs maturing. Prakash Raj doesn't show any new variation, his two variations are things of the past.
The villains - played by Rana, Adivi Sesh, Ajay and Shafi - perfectly fit the bill.
Thaman's music and BG score are fine. Cinematography and editing are up to the mark.
Verdict: Balupu is a mix of action plus entertainment.
Rating: 3.25 / 5