Title: Sarileru Neekevvaru
Director: Anil Ravipudi
Cast: Mahesh Babu, Vijaya Shanti, Rashmika Mandanna, Rajendra Prasad, Rao Ramesh, Sangeetha and others.
Music: Devi Sri Prasad
Hyderabad: Remember the Mahesh Babu of yore? He was funny, witty, had the moves and most importantly made an impact irrespective of the story. We found him back again today. Sarileru Neekevvaru, if nothing else, was a film that gave many of us a hint of nostalgia! Because watching Mahesh Babu dance with such high energy and switch emotions from anger to comedy to anger to comedy like it was child’s play surely makes a case for why he is the superstar that he is today.
Frankly, director Anil Ravipudi’s Sarileru Neekevvaru is a regular commercial potboiler that ticks off every single parameter that makes the checklist of a mass action entertainer. From a strategically placed item song to a lungi clad Mahesh’s high-energy moves. From a decent dose of comedy to the perfect levels of emotion and drama. All that paired with a villain who is worth the clash and a veteran actress who makes a stellar comeback. Music that’s surely making you groove and action scenes that inspire an element of awe. What more can one ask for?
Turns out, we are still left wanting for more! But we’ll get to that later. Because there are ample good things to talk about in this flick. First things first, director Anil Ravipudi has slowly begun to fill a void that the Telugu audience had begun to see when it came to fun masala films and is probably the master in the space today. Each time, he comes up with a dose of energy pairing it with a story to tell. In that regard, Sarileru Neekevvaru is by far the best story he has narrated. A story of family, patriotism and of course machoism!
I have observed a few things as a pattern in his films. One, he likes to use a catch phrase that is surely going to become a rage amidst the audiences. If he did ‘Anthega Anthega’ last time, this time he went for ‘Never before. Ever after’. And boy, it works like a charm! Two, if he has fight scenes in the film, he’s trying to innovate. Three, he tugs on to comedy dearly.
Sarileru Neekevvaru starts off in Kashmir where Ajay Krishna (Mahesh Babu) is a Major, and parallelly runs in Kurnool where a righteous college professor Bharati (Vijaya Shanti) lives. The coming together of both their stories is how the drama unfolds. In fact, the entire first half is a build up to one of the best interval sequences we have seen in a masala flick in a while now. It’s worth noting that despite the much-talked-about comedy sequences running through the first half, the real fun in the film begins only later when the story moves to Kurnool completely.
The comedy, which forms for the major part of the first half, induces laughter from a large part of the crowd but there are some of us who may not enjoy stalking (even if done by a girl) or sexist jokes, which are a trope in most Telugu films. It’s hard to move past it but there’s no choice really! Even then, the film stretches too long and takes time to catch a rhythm with several unnecessary moments being fit in. A little chop-chop job would have made the film a little more engaging.
While the story that pans out between Ajay and Bharathi moves harmoniously, featuring Prakash Raj in a performance that also takes us back to his menacing looks of the past, it is the episode featuring Rashmika that makes us confused as to how she said ‘yes’. One understands the lure of a big film, but so far the actress has stuck to parts that give her a scope to perform. However, Sarileru Neekevvaru neither gives her the “glam doll” treatment, nor does it give her good space. While she does get to explore her comic prowess, one is sure she could have done a lot more if the role was etched a little better.
For me, the biggest takeaway from this film other than Mahesh Babu’s awesomeness and Anil Ravipudi putting a stamp on the entertainment space was surely Vijaya Shanti. What she adds to the film is an element of power and grace that no one else could have managed. Her superstar tag is what makes you look at the role with more respect than you normally would. And to give due credit to the director, he gives her a roaring introduction scene as well. However, what transpires eventually is that her character graph keeps plummeting with occasional raises as the story progresses and Mahesh takes centerstage. It’s a little disappointing at the outset but then a look at other characters and we understand what’s happening.
Actors like Rajendra Prasad and Rao Ramesh also get sidelined in a film that glorifies its leading man. One of the few who get to shine is Sangeetha in another noteworthy comeback.
All said and done, Sarileru Neekevvaru is a film that surely has to be watched for a Mahesh Babu who is surely “NEVER BEFORE” and hopefully “EVER AFTER”.
Bottomline: Sarileru Neekevvaru is the metaphorical “full meals” that is tailored for fans. Chopping off redundancies would have been a great idea but with Mahesh dancing like a dream in a lungi, all one can feel is a MIND BLOCK.