It is ironical for a film that takes a dig at the rote learning system to copy every single facet, aspect and nuance from the original, 3 Idiots. If you watch the movie expecting Shankar's midas touch in Snehitudu, you will be thoroughly disappointed. The only talent who follows his own instead of basing his work upon someone else's is Harris Jayraj. Everybody else, including Vijay, devotedly follows Rajkumar Hirani and Company every bit, like those bunch of pupils who regurgitate the lessons taught to them in the class in the exams. Of course, you are permitted to differ with this view. You may want to think that Shankar has been true to the original. Take your call!
It will not be a joke to say that those who did not watch 3 Idiots are probably the smallest minority in the country. So, without talking much about the subject, we think it suffices to say that Snehitudu is the story of two 'five point someones' who are egged on to soul-search themselves, overcome their limitations, and realize their calling by someone by name Pani, who enters their lives unwelcomed and illuminates them like a sage. There is friendly banter and bonhomie, a trace of earthly humour, a hint of opinion-making without assuming a preachy tone, and, above all, a light, but touching, dose of sentimentality. A lot of interesting and peculiar ideas, quirky names, mesmerising scenes, conforming as well as rebellious characters, dialogues and a soothing romantic track are thrown in. Like the original, this is a rare story that works at the level of instilling positivity in you, even as it desperately seeks to entertain you without deviating even an inch from the path envisaged by Hirani (much to your dismay and irritation). The so-called Tamil flavour that comes in the form of the actors (Vijay, Jiiva, Sriram, Satyaraj and SJ Suryah in a cameo), the music (HJ is at it again, coming up with one or two hummable tunes), a duet in Shankar's style (Aska Laska Yemo Yemo), Sathyan's elaborate comic style (the Balatkar man dubbed by our own Sunil; his voice fits well), Satyaraj's unthinking parodying of Boman Irani and more, make you feel that you are watching a second-rate version of a film that took the national BO by storm some years ago.
Snehitudu is definitely for the youth; it is also for the elders. The very novelty and ennobling intention of the story, however, is offset by the near-outrageous and untactful copying of 3 Idiots. One wonders why Shankar, the first-class creator who made a film like Robot, wanted to re-tell the story when he had nothing to add.
Talking of performances, Vijay was no match to Aamir Khan. In comparison, Jiiva and Sriram fare better. Illeana's lean look was not cool. She reprises Kareena Kapoor almost like a fanatical disciple; so also Vijay who emotes, walks, smiles, and even kisses like Aamir. Satyaraj was just about ok as the haughty, bookish and unsentimental professor.
Abburi Ravi's dialogues match the lip sync, and are not lost in the translation. Lyricists (Sirivennal and team) try to add a dose of uniqueness.
It is not a surprise that the film works technically well. Shankar's films have always been known for the A-class output of their technicians - from the editor to the cinematographer to the sound engineer to the art director and this one is no different.
All in all, Shankar's image as an avant garde director might work against Snehitudu for the simple reason because our audience will go to the theatres expecting a creative rehash of the original work. The film's success hinges on how much the Telugu cine-goer will like the performances and how well the story connects to the first-time watchers. As of those who have already watched the original, they can't be blamed if they find the self-same avatar a bit like a caricature.
Released on: 26th Jan, 2012