'MLA', starring Nandamuri Kalyan Ram and Kajal Aggarwal in the lead, hit the screens this Friday. Here is our review.
Kalyan (Kalyan Ram) is a man with a golden heart. He moves to Bengaluru along with her sister and brother-in-law (Vennela Kishore) after helping them elope.
Once in the city, he falls in love with Indhu (Kajal Aggarwal), a woman with a golden heart. He woos her. She leaves it to destiny.
Cut to the next week, they end up working in the same company. He goes out of his way to bail the organization out of a severe crisis. That way he wins Indhu's heart.
But this is when a twist arrives. Post interval, the heroine's father (Jayaprakash Reddy) challenges Kalyan to do something near impossible. It's now up to Kalyan to defeat Gadappa (Ravi Kishan) at his own game.
What is that game? Will Kalyan succeed in the end? That's the second half for you.
A hurt comedian (Prudhviraj) becomes a game-changer. A hurt banker (Gundu Sudarshan) helps the hero by going out of his way to defraud the villain of Rs. 60 lakhs. The media falls for the punch dialogues of an unknown election candidate, ignoring the powerful incumbent MLA, who in turn reacts to the turn of events like a man with the tiniest brain.
There is more. The hero actually storms into the sitting MLA's fort like a chief guest. At will. Every single time he wants to warn him, he just needs to wear a nice dress, take out a bike and be there at the MLA's residence.
There comes a point when the hero has to liberate 3000 children. Mani Sharma now chips in with a song. By the time you open your eyes, an educational trust is in place, complete with a solid structure. The villain opposes. Our hero says, "Let the villagers decide for themselves if they want to be free once and for all". In a split second, a woman literally flies in the air carrying a boulder and breaks a goonda's head. Tollywood has decided to make David Vs Goliath fights look like a joke.
When the hero stalks Indhu, she shows mock irritation. She will love him should he tame a land shark. Another woman employee at the corporate office actually dubs Posani Krishna Murali's molestations as "Chilipi cheshtalu".
A good amount of the first half is squandered away on a character who has no place in the story. Marathalli (Ajay) is a dreaded land shark. He grabs the land of the company where our hero works. Our hero has a scheme. Enter Brahmanandam (as a sharp-witted criminal lawyer Pattabhi). Follows a lengthy courtroom scene that almost borders on the quirky. End of Marathalli's story.
In the first half, more than the good traits of Kalyan Ram's character, it's womanizer Posani Krishna Murali who is made to occupy our mind space. Doubles entenders in these sequences.
The twist at the interval turns out to be pseudo just 2-3 minutes into the second half. When he is not being irrational, Gadappa's villainy is outdated. Quite a few star directors have long changed the way feudalism, land-grabbing or large-scale man-made catastrophes are depicted in our movies. Debutant director Upendra Madhav gives two hoots for such valuable lessons.
The situational comedy in the second half is too simplistic. In delivering it, the film refuses to rise above the simple-mindedness of a 'Radha' (the Sharwanand-starrer). The very tussle between Prudhviraj and Ravi Kishan's Gadappa is puerile. Once this imbecility is introduced, it's difficult to take the film seriously. Prabhas Sreenu only exacerbates the situation.
For a good amount of screen time, Kajal Aggarwal and her peculiar father go missing. Whenever she makes the mistake of talking to the hero, you know what will happen (a song, of course).
Kalyan Ram looks very confident and even when he has to deliver punch lines, he is in his elements. That's a far cry from the Kalyan Ram of a few years back. Kajal Aggarwal is largely wasted in a hackneyed role. She is awesome in the song 'Most Wanted Abbayi' and that's all. Ravi Kishan is a fine talent and it should be explored. Nagineedu is there to deliver some cliched lines with his heavy-duty tone. It's remarkable that Murali Mohan even thought it would be great to be at the receiving end of a double meaning dialogue.
Mani Sharma's background music doesn't quite make the cut, while the songs pass muster. Prasad Murella's cinematography is okayish. Editing and other technical departments give what the film deserves.
'MLA' is formula-driven. A simple-minded hero-villain fight, a pseudo-twist at the interval, and a screenplay that privileges a hurt comedian over serious-minded narration. That's about it.