We guessed it right. Dookudu is really a big leap in Mahesh brand entertainment. There is, delightfully, a bonus. The film is a big leap in Vytla brand entertainment as well. To put it in a nutshell, this awesome film has got everything which you might have expected to see in Khaleja (2010) but did not find in it. Dookudu has got everything - comedy, action, romance. On the top of it, there is an intelligent screenplay that coalesces adrenaline punches with comic drama and sentiment. And when the sentiment involves a superstar like Mahesh Babu and an ace like Prakash Raj, who strike a perfect chemistry on screen, you cannot ask for more. It would be far-fetched to even suggest that Dookudu is a classic, as the hero had wanted it to be, but it is indubitably a must-watch film.
Shankar Narayan (Prakash Raj) is a people's man, a Godfather for the inhabitants of Shankar Nagar, Hyderabad. Some villains (Kota Srinivas Rao and company) conspire to eliminate him and get rid of him successfully (though it turns out to be a temporary success). As it happens in every other film, the do-gooder father's son Ajay (Mahesh Babu) grows to be a heroic cop and is based in Mumbai. He and his team (headed by the inept Nasser) are on a hunt for the dreaded underworld don Nayak (Sonu Sood looks old but his performance is routinely fresh). Team Ajay head to Istanbul, Turkey, to nab Guru Talwar, Nayak's aide, to eventually catch hold of the big fish.
Twenty minutes into the film, uninterrupted action and edge-of-the-seat drama gives way to a pleasant romantic track involving Mahesh and Samantha (as the wannabe fashionista Prashanthi). As Ajay and co prepare to outsmart Talwar, Shastri garu (Vennela Kishore as Mahesh's junior cop) makes us laugh by gushing about his Bamma, who has got a talent for predicting things as they will happen. This goes to show that Vaitla never rmisses an opportunity pepper the proceedings with humor).
Some dialogues (Kona Venkat) show traces of Trivikram-style satire and humour in Istanbul. While Mahesh goes verbose (well, he says he has got noti doola), displaying much more maturity as an actor than he did in Khaleja, Samantha adds the glamour quotient. The monumental beauty of Istanbul, resplendent with magnificent buildings which form the backdrop in a duet, lends a rich feel. (Thank the camera of Guhan).
It is not long before Ajay completes his Operation Istanbul and returns to Hyderabad. It is at this stage that Vaitla introduces his brand of comedy. The film is now set in the house in which Shankar Narayan lived. Shankar is back in the house but his return is kept in the dark. Ajay wants to make his father, who had lived in coma for years, happy by creating a make-believe world of lies around him.
The rest of the film is all about how Ajay accomplishes the task of annihilating every villain who had backstabbed and wanted his father to be dead. Thankfully, the drama and action are not routine. They are laced with rib-tickling comedy and touching sentimentality. Vaitla blends all the commercial ingredients in his inimitable style and makes Dookudu an enjoyable fare for all and how?
Well, here it is how he does it. Much like Dhee, Ready and King, this film too sees the the hero making everyone live in a fool's paradise: things go as the hero wants them. Nayak marvels at old Telugu classics and Ghantasala's rendition of the Gita; Brahmanandam, who believes that he is part of a reality show (this one, believe us, is top class), has you in splits as he is fooled around without a respite; MS Narayana's spoofing of Magadheera and Simha is superb; Prime Minister NTR, speaking on the ramparts of Red Fort in chaste Telugu, promises to bring black money back; Master Bharath participates in multi-crore land dealings and brings smiles. Even a get-to-gether of Mahesh, Samantha's families becomes an occasion for comedy of lies and bakras. Episodic treatment keeps your interest alive. Every murder comes with a touch of humour. Welcome to the world of Srinu Vaitla.
As for the performances, Mahesh delivers one of his career bests. He can now safely claim, without inviting ridicule, that Dookudu is a slap on the face of those who declared that he is not good at comedy. He shows verve and energy in action scenes. He is convincing in the khaddar get-up. He is remarkable at spouting one-liners as the super-efficient cop. He is trigger-happy, but is immediately funny in taking digs at his stupid senior Nasser.
All comedians and character artists do justice to their roles. On the flip side, however, Samantha is not seen much in the second half. But when she sizzles on the screen in Itu Raye number, you swoon.
Tehnicially, it is proof what a Digital Intermediate finish can make a film look like. It is visually rich.
Post Script: Babu land aithe opposition ku bande, Dharmavarapu Subrahmanyam says to a frightened Sonu Sood. Prince proves he is Numero Uno. The fight for top slot is over. Cool.
Released on: 23rd Sep, 2011