Telugu super star Mahesh Babu has managed to break his slump and delivered a blockbuster film, after a string of really poorly thought out films. This one, “Bharath Ane Nenu” opened to great reviews and brought in a record breaking haul at the box office, prompting your truly to give it a shot.  While the cinematic experience was really nice, with the movie falling into a strict genre ( Drama in this case) and lot of emphasis paid to dialog between major characters, and a few aptly placed monologues. Mahesh Babu was a treat to watch, with his stylish looks, and toned-down performance giving life to the character. The movie was quick paced, acting was wonderful, and the songs were not too bad. But, the best thing for me was the background score which featured some really nice piano pieces. The female lead, Kiara Advani, was very easy on the eyes, and in the few scenes she was asked to earn her paycheck, I should say, she did with flying colors. Koratala Siva’s directing style was a welcome breath of fresh air. So, the movie presented us with decent entertainment for two and half hours, the music was pleasant, and yet, the content of the story itself was nothing to write home about.

A beautiful pairing, very easy on the eyes

The story is just full of plot holes, and lack of commonsense wades throughout the film. Granted, the narration and technical values in presentation have masked this to an extent, but to a critical eye and mind, the story is too lackluster to keep us interested.  In an attempt to define the hero as someone exceptional, the director just added attributes to him. He didn’t seem to worry about how realistic those attributes are. For instance, the very beginning of the movie shows the dean of Oxford university praising him for his fifth degree. Why does he need so many degrees, and that too one of them in food science??  Seriously?

Next, the hero seems to have left home when he was fairly young, in part because of his step-mother’s disinterest in him. And the next time he comes home is when his fathers passes away. So in the twenty odd years in between, neither his father goes to London to see his son, nor the hero comes home, not even for a summer break. WOW!!

When his father apparently was hospitalized for well over a month, the hero doesn’t even hear about it. No one calls him to tell him this, nor he calls home before his most recent commencement to talk his old man. He literally finds out the day he dies, and then makes the trip home after twenty years. And sure enough, there is this shell-shocked step-brother who he never met, and had to introduce himself to this kid. No Skype, no Whatsapp video calls, nothing over the past two decades.

Even if we let all the above slide, what really got under my skin was the constant condescension of the masses, and the politicians. The director, and the star, both either assumed the people know jack-shit about politics and civics, or they are themselves fairly ignorant of the system. The only good, or rather cosmetic nice thing was when Mahesh addresses the speaker in a nice high pitched “Madame, Speaker”. The rest of the political drama was cringe worthy. Especially embarrassing was the talk about “local governance” and allocating a sum of five crores to each village and how that’d automatically solve everything. Even more embarrassing was the notion that when that happens, there is no need for legislatures and lawmakers at the state and central levels. Who comes up with juvenile stuff like that?

Local governance was and has always been a big part in any democracy. In fact, India’s local government system is a bit of an overkill. We have governments at the village level, and mandal level ( counties, in the west), districts, and then state and center. They each serve a purpose, and they have powers and responsibilities at various levels. However, giving each village a sum of money, irrespective of size and  situation, is like a high school kid’s project work.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good points that the movie touched upon. Like media’s obsession with ratings, and the thing they do to win such ratings. There were some really good scenes when the hero slams the news channels, and the public about how they are both responsible for the disgusting state of news coverage.
Another main issue with the movie is that the story is too transparent. We can almost sense from the get-go that the second main character in the movie is in fact the villain, and we just have to sit patiently and listen to a few rounds of “Madame, Speaker” monologues before we get to the point when the hero discovers the mystery about his father’s death. We can pretty much chalk out the rest of the film as to how he finds a way to avenge his death, while simultaneously fixing India’s ailing political system. Yawn……..wake me up when its over, am I right?

CBN was first among India’s leaders to bring governance to the common man’s doorstep. He was way ahead of his time.

The director tried to get cute with us by taking on some of the contemporary issues. Jayalalitha’s death and the controversy surrounding her last days,  and quite bravely, the corruption of YS Raja Sekhar Reddy and his scoundrel son YS Jagan were deftly melded into the plot. And many of the initiatives that Chandra Babu Naidu started when he was CM of united Andhra Pradesh fifteen years ago were also highlighted without naming him. So, the TDP follower in my heart really loved these bits, but it was not enough for me to love the film per se. However, credit due where its due, and the performances of all artistes, Mahesh, Prakash Raj and others, and the high technical values through out the film make it a passing critical success. The director does deserve a nod for his attempts to make a different kind of film, but he should question himself about the lost opportunity as it had the elements that would have made it a true masterpiece.

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