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Times of India
A software engineer starts hearing a voice inside his head that tells him to go in search of a woman named Jayalakshmi and murder her!
If his Bichagadu was an old-fashioned masala movie, Vijay Antony’s new film, Bethaludu feels like a new-age masala movie. The film unfolds as a mystery thriller, it is only in the end that we realise that it is actually a mass hero movie masquerading as something else.
The film begins with Dinesh (Vijay Antony), a software engineer with a promising future and newlywed wife, Aishwarya (Arundhathi Nair), consulting a psychiatrist because he has been hearing a voice in his head that tells him to go and murder a mystery woman named Jayalakshmi. Jayalakshmi, the voice tells him, has murdered him in his previous birth — when he was Sharma, a school teacher — and urges him to avenge that crime. Dinesh tries to come to terms with these eerie occurrences by going to the town he resided in his last birth and finding out more on Sharma and Jayalakshmi, but he is in a shock when he realises that Jayalkashmi looks exactly like Aishwarya! Does he do the voice’s bidding? Is there more to his predicament than meets the eye?
Conceptually, Bethaludu is quite similar to Dhanush's Anekudu, which also involves past life regression, mind-altering drugs and revenge; even the heroes’ professional background is similar. But this film has a tone that is very different from that one (which was unabashedly over-the-top). For almost two thirds of its run time, Pradeep Krishnamoorthy treats it more like a psychological horror film. He is also more interested in mood-building, narrating his tale with a minimal set-up and solid production values. By casting veteran actors like Y Gee Mahendra, Charuhasan and Kitty, he sidesteps the need to establish their characters.
It is only when he gives us the answer to the mystery surrounding Dinesh that Bethaludu starts to feel like a lesser film, with caricaturish antagonists (a comic bit between Dinesh and the villain almost ruins the climax), over-the-top stunts (which feel like the result of Vijay Antony’s rising star power) and rushed-through revelations. The shift in tone is jarring, but thankfully, it doesn’t derail the film.