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Sarileru Neekevvaru Review

Review by IndiaGlitz [ Saturday, January 11, 2020 • Hindi ]
Sarileru Neekevvaru Review
Banner:
GMB Entertainment, AK Entertainments
Cast:
Mahesh Babu, Rashmika Mandanna, Rajendra Prasad
Direction:
Anil Ravipudi
Production:
Ramabraham Sunkara
Music:
Devi Sri Prasad

'Sarileru Neekevvaru', starring Superstar Mahesh Babu in the lead, hit the screens this Saturday.  Here is our review of the mass-action-comedy entertainer.

Story:

Major Ajay Krishna (Mahesh Babu) is a gutsy soldier who can reform evil like no other.  In Andhra Pradesh's Kurnool, a corrupted Minister (played by Prakash Raj) wreaks havoc in the life of Bharathi (former superstar actress Vijayashanthi in a comeback role), a medical professor, who comes with a daring and uncompromising attitude.  Pushed to the wall by the villain, she and her family start bowing out.  But they don't need to.  Because Ajay has heroically landed in Kurnool to be their saviour and scare the daylights out of the villain.

How is Ajay related to Bharathi?  What is at the root of her enmity with the villain?  How does he deal with the powerful antagonist?  Answers to these questions have to be found on the silver screen.  

Analysis:

After he decides to reform the chief antagonist by drilling sense and fear into him, there comes a scene where Mahesh Babu is seen dramatically talking about the work profile (not exactly but you get the drift, right?) of a soldier even as a not-so-perturbed Prakash Raj looks at him.  The beats of this scene are borderline 'Bharat Ane Nenu' or even a bit of 'Srimanthudu' or 'Maharshi'.  That did scare me big-time as I grew apprehensive about the ultra-familiar route that the film might dangerously take from this point.  Thankfully, the film goes on to temporarily acquire the nature of a crime thriller, giving the audience a respite from the 'Change or else I will screw you up with more sermonizing' mode.

Writer-director Anil Ravipudi relies on two time-tested elements to win the Sankranthi race: Comedy, and simplistic analysis. The film is an advertisement for compulsory army training, which the hero paints as an elixir of all ills plaguing the society.  In all likelihood, this is a sign of the director having graduated from WhatsApp University.  In a highly-charged and patriotic scene, the hero uses the word 'monitoring' when he actually means 'surveillance'.  He normalizes second-by-second privacy breach (which anyway is not a reality) as a necessity and calls it financial transparency.  Digitalization has reduced corruption in welfare delivery but this film projects it as inferior to the old ways!  Where do our filmmakers pick up this level of ignorance?  

An army operation plays out like a basthi fight involving uniformed men, with the hero almost howling to his superior to leverage his heroism and an impulsive soldier doing something foolhardy.  

The comedy is powered by some quirky characters, who range from daughters instantly falling in love with frauds and a heroine who pines for a complete stranger in a nanosecond, going to the extent of merrily faking rape.  Bandla Ganesh has an extended cameo and he is subjected to thankless beatings to elevate Mahesh's character.  The second half has less comedy once Rashmika, Sangeetha (playing the heroine's mother) and others give way to the composed Vijayashanthi.  Rajendra Prasad is reduced to giving reaction shots in an over-the-top manner, something he has done quite a number of times in the last 10 years.  Rao Ramesh, in comparison, delivers laughs as he shows frustration with his wife and daughters at every step (the perfection-sadism differentiation is hilarious).  

Mahesh unleashes the inner 'Okkadu'-meets-'Dookudu' in two fights: the interval fight in the shadow of the imposing Kondareddy Buruju, and the forest fight involving smugglers.  Full marks to Devi Sri Prasad's BGM and the action choreography.  Otherwise, Mahesh is made to put up light expressions for the most part.

The climax is a cop out, with Prakash Raj's character becoming a jaded extension of his 'F2' character.  His big quirk has him threaten his school teacher (Raghu Babu) for giving him the 'wrong' morals when he was a child.  Both the eccentric comedy and the hackneyed villainy sort of look pedestrian.  Jayaprakash Reddy, as the villain's father, becomes repetitive.  

The thing with the story of 'Sarileru Neekevvaru' is that it doesn't taste Mahesh Babu-esque.  It's a dated idea that is unabashedly staged in old-school ways.  That much becomes clear with the first scene itself: a female student, a rowdy eve-teaser, our 'Pratighatana' lecturer, her slap, the college principal, a powerful man... Have you started imagining it already?  Four female characters are chased by goons, literally reminding us of the unwelcome 1990s when damsels and dudes in distress used to run away from their hometown out of existential fear for the ghastly villain.

Despite the not-so-exciting and even predictable premise, Anil Ravipudi shows his grip on the narrative in a number of places.  The interval fight is rousing, the scene where Mahesh gives an on-the-spur salute to Vijayashanthi gives goosebumps, Vijayashanthi has a graceful presence and also acts well, 'Mind Block' and 'Daang Daang' give a bang for the buck, the Vennela Kishore-Subbu Raju track is not bad.  

Mahesh tries to loosen up after playing those 'I am straight from the moral science universe' roles.  His comic timing is not novel but he somehow keeps us glued.  Helped immensely by cinematographer Rathnavelu's calibre (especially in the Kashmir episode), the film gives us pleasing visuals.  DSP's BGM can't be described as a terrific one.  Suffice it to say that it works.

Verdict:

'Sarileru Neekevvaru' gets some of the comedy scenes right.  The fights, Mahesh's heroism, Vijayashanthi's presence, the technical values contribute to the viewer's experience.  The wafer-thin story, the feeble climax, the old-school ideas, the simplistic analysis are a turn-off.  At 169 minutes, the film is somewhat too lengthy.

Rating: 2.75 / 5.0

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