Despite Bala failing badly for rehashing a told story ('Shiva Putrudu') for 'Vaadu-Veedu', Suseenthiran has done a Bala without compunction. In terms of the storyline, there is not much difference between 'Na Peru Shiva' and 'Palanadu'. The hero's characterization, however, is a mix of Nijam's Mahesh Babu and the Karthi of the director's previous film.
The director has not got so many things right, unfortunately. For one, there are two heroes here: the dominant hero (Katama Ravi, the villain) and the subjacent hero (played by Vishal, the pretender). It goes to the discredit of the narration that, after we walk out of the theatre, it is Katama Ravi's sadism that appears to be more forceful than Vishal's heroism, which is rudimentary.
Go and narrate the first 15 minutes of Palanadu to 10 movie-goers; it is very likely that at least 7 will correctly tell you what is in store after that, with the exception of what the hero's father (played by 'Darsaka Himalaya' Bharathi Raj) may be up to.
After the death of one Shankar, a dreaded gangster, there develops a battle for his legacy between two of his lieutenants. It is narrated at length by the director, never mind the fact that there is no link to the main storyline whatsoever. Was it meant to elevate Katama Ravi's character? But that could have been achieved in a way as to enhance the story-telling impact rather than make it seem like a mere footnote.
Vishal plays a timid youngster, who stammers when he is slapped by a knife-wielding street rowdy. His family slams him for not hitting the rowdy back, making us wonder if they had been a family of Narasimha Naidus. Once we come to know the profession of Vishal's brother, the story plays out before our eyes.
The narration could have been a savior but it suffers from many flaws, which include:
Vishal's body language doesn't reflect a psychological makeover in his mind. The director may have done it consciously because it fits well with Vishal's humble origins in the movie but the gamble falls flat because when he becomes heroic in the climax, it looks like an accidental victory. What if the villain had a gun and what if Vishal had not met Amrutha while escaping from Katama Ravi's goons?
Katama Ravi, the dominant hero, looks glorious in comparison to Vishal, as his character is not skillfully elevated. We learn from the lyrics of a song playing in the background that he is now blood-thirsty, plotting like a lion, but he looks uncharacteristically non-turbulent.
Killing a dreaded gangster is discussed as if it is nothing unusual by Vishal with his friend and by Bharathi Raj with his friend. There is no drama when they are taking a bold decision.
Malathi (played by ) pining for pre-marital romance in a film of this genre? Totally out-of-place.
The interval bang is a cop-out. One would have expected to see Vishal's transformation here. Instead, it is plain and undramatic.
A song for a character (the first one) who has no place in the story? Strange!
The sub-plots, too, do not gel with the main storyline properly.
Vishal is good and looks earnest. Barring a few intense expressions, there is not much going for him. The rest of the cast is wanting. Bharati Raj is saved by Subalekha Sudhakar's dubbing; otherwise he is plain.
Technically, the cinematography is nimble. The songs are a let down and the BGM is ok.
Verdict: Na Peru Vishal