Naa Istam is a film that gets curioser and curioser in the first half, more and more predictable in the second half and hackneyed in the climax. Rana plays Ganesh, a self-centered guy who cannot think of anything but himself. He is obsessed about money and love for him, is an emotion of the aliens. Krishnaveni (Genelia D'Souza) is in Malaysia to marry Kishore (Harshavardhan Rane of Thakita Thakita fame), who never turns up. Sad that her courage has not been rewarded (she eloped to marry him, unable to be forcibly married to a mean relative), she wants to commit suicide. In comes Ganesh to save the damsel in distress.
After saving her from being drowned, he saves the girl from a drug mafia out to sell her in flesh trade, by paying them a whopping sum in Malaysian ringgits. The next morning he realizes that he acted against his ideology and hoodwinks Krishnaveni so that he could demand money from her father so as to make for the amount he lost in a drunken state the previous night. Telling her that her mother is serious in India because of the shock she had after she (Genelia) eloped, he takes her to her home. Naidu (Nasser), her father, says that he would always be indebted. The epitome of self-interest plainly demands Rs. 10 lakhs as gift. Naidu agrees but he puts a condition. He asks him to stay put at his home till Krishnaveni is married off.
As a happy Ganesh goes about playing pranks with Brahmanandam and irritates Subbu Raju, he is attracted to Krishnaveni, who now grudges him for cheating her. He wakes up to the feeling of love for her when her lecherous groom (Raghu Babu) reveals his true colours. It is then when Ganesh decides to take her to Malaysia to save her from a deadly marriage.
The film becomes mediocre in Malaysia when Kishore turns up in search of Krishnaveni. The rest of the film is how Ganesh tries his best to impress our heroine and to keep Kishore from meeting his girl.
For a film that treats the hero's character with indulgence and a story that totally lacks emotional depth, the climax was understandably unintelligent. Prakash Tholeti was inept when it came to deftly building up chemistry between Rana and Genelia, which was a sine qua non for the film to work. So much so, Genelia's feelings for Rana seemed like a house of cards. Naa Istam was finished on very predictable lines (it could not be otherwise), but what was important was how the journey was told, more than the destination. The theme, as summed up by Venkatesh, doesn't cut ice with those of us who have seen many heroes and heroines say this.
The film could have completely done away with the fights for good. The comedy track was weak. It was boring to watch Ali being drunk in all the scenes, the film has too many boozing scenes.
Rana is better as a romantic than he was a Puri Jagannadh's last year. He wears a smiling face all through and his diction and built are good. For those of you who thought that Rana cannot be a regular hero, you should watch his performance here. However, his expressions were inappropriate in the song O Saathiya.
For a seasoned actress like Genelia, pulling off this one must have been a breeze. She was active in the numbers, but looked off-colour in some scenes. Harshavardhan Rane's dubbing falls flat occasionally. No, it doesn't take away from his merits: He looks handsome and is a revelation.
Dialogues sound like mothballs at many places. Chakri makes a decent comeback. Art work is not without its share of flaws.