'Hello!', starring Akhil, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Ramya Krishna and Jagapathi Babu in key roles, hits the screens this Friday. Here is our review.
Seenu, an orphan, and Junnu are childhood friends who got separated the day the latter's parents shifted base to New Delhi. Seenu misses Junnu's phone number and the pangs of separation don't seem to end even after 14 years.
As an adult, Seenu is Avinash, the adopted child of a rich couple (played by Ramya Krishna and Jagapathi Babu). Before leaving for San Francisco, Junnu aka Priya comes to Hyderabad in search of Seenu.
When they are about to meet once again, Avinash's cell phone gets lifted by a mobile mafia member. This leads to a series of fights and chases.
How does Avi end up meeting Junnu aka Priya? A series of coincidences involving the separated lovers and Avi's parents complete the story.
For a good part of the first half, the childhood episodes consume the lion's share. The pace is rather leisurely in these portions. The rich-kid-falls-in-love-with-a-street-child element is not without its share of cliches. The trope of a signature tune that the creative boy comes up to impress the girl is a motif that the screenplay doesn't forget through the course of the drama.
Where Vikram Kumar shows the imagination is in the way his hero finds future parents when he is searching for his soulmate.
In a reversal of sorts, it's the first half that packs much more action than the second half. Had Bob Brown's action choreography been placed in a credible and logical context, the building-hopping and high-end chases would have looked all the more special and breathtaking. However, we are treated to a hero does big things against a bunch of buffoons who shouldn't have cared less for what he wants - one of the thousands of mobiles they just stole from him! The vacuous premise robs the terrific visuals of their gravitas to an extent.
In the second half, the narration takes the form of a full-blown rom-com complete with a not-so-rational elder (read Ramya Krishna). As the lead pair continue to wait for each other, dialogues like 'Indian mothers are obsessed about their sons but not daughters' are thrown around in light-veined scenes. We are also expected to indulge the child-like nature of Ramya Krishna and her husband when they can't control emotions at the drop of a hat.
A trivial fight sequence makes its appearance in the pre-climax segment. Actor Ajay from the mobile mafia puts up those funny expressions, letting us know well in advance not to expect any major antagonist's moment after the interval.
The conversations between the hero and heroine oscillate between the profound and the mundane. Dialogue writer Kittu Vissapragada writes simple, situational and non-melodramatic lines in good measure. Two songs follow in a quick succession in the second half.
By and by, it's Vikram Kumar's nimble technical team which makes the proceedings very catchy. PG Vinod's cinematography makes every frame beautiful and if the lead pair sparkle and sizzle, a good amount of credit must go to his vision.
Anup Rubens's work makes it a musical love story and not just a love story. His BGM matches the pleasant or disturbed expressions that the lead pair put up.
In the emotional scenes, Akhil proves that he is leagues ahead of what he could do in his previous film. He must be having one of the cutest smiles ever. His dialogue-delivery and earnestness deserve appreciation, so also the verve he displays in the action moments. Kalyani Priyadarshan comes into her own in the second half after the first half treats her as an extended cameo. For a debutante, she is confident. Ramya Krishna and Jagapathi Babu as affectionate spouses come with child-like vibes. Ajay is OK, while Praveen and Vennela Kishore are seen in bit roles. Krishnudu has brief moments.
Emotions, co-incidences, poetic songs and breezy conversations mark the film. It would have been great had the new-age action scenes had a rationale. Akhil is easily the film's best performer.