Donga Dongadi is expected to be a hit (at least it is not expected to leave its makers poorer). If it indeed happens, in a strange irony, it can show you what is wrong with Tollywood these days.
It is well known that this film is a faithful lift from a Tamil hit. And when you see movie, you realize that the director (same as in the original) Subramanyam Siva has just not added anything new in the remake. In fact, even some of the characters are playing the same role (Mannika Vinayagam as the hero's father, for instance). The music of the Tamil original, the costumes of the Manmada Raja song, the choreography ----everything is the same. Even when it comes to the title, they have been lazy enough to simply replicate it.
But the film-maker may very well say why fix something which ain't broken. In other words, why tamper with something that had been phenomenally successful. He may a have a point especially after seeing Donga Dongadi, which eventually is a compact entertainer.
The film is about a strong-willed youth, Vasu (Manoj Kumar) who has his usual run-ins with his stentorian father (Manikka Vinayagam). But the duo actually has a fall out after Vasu is involved in an incident with a girl. The girl, Vijji (Sada) is equally shrewish and she and the hero keep bumping out into each other.
With Vasu out to prove a point to his father, finally convinces him and in the process also wins the hand of the heroine. By the end, he also realizes the importance of family values.
The story at one level may appear simplistic. But the strength of the movie is that the director has moved the scenes with plausible events. The hero and heroine don't fall into love till the last scene and the director manages to keep the goings on interesting.
Manoj Kumar, the son of veteran Mohan Babu, is full of beans. He does not have conventional good looks. But he compensates for that with his vivacious screen presence and is particularly sturdy in both song and fight sequences. Yet, his acting skills are from being rounded. He has a long way to go. But the point is he has shown adequate promise.
Sada, as the sharp-tongued, ready-for-a-fight girl, is the apt foil to the liveliness of Manoj. The duo gels well and the on-screen chemistry is positive.
Manikka Vinayagam (who is actually singer) is impressive as the hero's father. His was a standout performance in Tamil and hence he has been retained. Rajiv Kanakala, as the hero's brother, is polished and the fits the bill. Sunil's routine comedy is nothing to write home about.
The music of Dhina is loud but the songs that were a rage in Tamil have been retained. If you like rhythmic fast-paced songs, then you may like Donga Dongadi's. (The almost orgiastic Manmada Raja has verve and vitality). Vincent's photography is pleasant on the eyes.
Subramanyam Siva, the director, has shown that with an acceptable story line even mundane tales can be made into engrossing movies. He has managed to strike a blow for father-son relationship within the matrix of a typical love story.
A copycat, it may be. But a copycat with nine lives, all the same.