Six-year-old Bittu is orphaned when his parents die in a car accident. He grows up to become the leading businessman in India. Thirty years on, he runs into a college student, Nagarjuna who looks exactly like his dad. Convinced that Nagarjuna is re-incarnation of his late father he sets out looking for his mother. But Nageshwar himself has a karmic connection that goes back over hundred years.
: Movie memories. Whatever we make of them, it's hard to comprehend or contextualize why we remember what we do about the movies we've watched. It's isn't just great performances, brilliant writing, great song or game changing technical innovations that stay on. It's almost like we are pathologically compelled to attach many bitter sweet remembrances of our lives - like first date, the horrible loo at theatre you saw it in, how much you shelled out to watch the first day first show, the last day of college, or a bad stomach upset you suffered because of a sandwich that didn't go down too well. It's almost like every movie has a little side story attached.
Like the random act of having watched a movie at a certain time causes us to forge such a deep connection, that the movie becomes a footnote of a little phase of our lives. Perhaps that's why we go on to develop such fond memories of movie stars overtime that they come to feel almost like extended family. So going to a movie hall to watch the last movie of a celebrated actor - ANR in this case - in it-self becomes a conscious act of taking a trip down the memory lane one last time.
So when ANR reminds his grandson Naga Chaitanya "
youth lo entha godava chesano...entha romance chesano neeke emi thelusu
," in one episode it's bound to put a smile on your face. And when he laments, "
thagubothu yedava a devadasu peru theesukuntadu
," you know he's joking about his own legacy. A montage of the iconic song
in a party song serves as a reminder that ANR's been there and done that.
The filmmaker ensured there's plenty of happy nostalgia to dig into. Also the humor that arises when you have Naga Chaitanya addressing Nagarjuna as Nageshwar Rao, and ANR as Chaitanya is hard to miss. By the way Naga Chaitanya plays a college student, Nagarjuna! As for Nageshwar, he happens to be a billionaire businessman, who is convinced Nagarjuna is his late dad reborn that he reckons his dead mother also must be reborn and goes out looking for her. And Chaitanya has similar feeling about Nageshwar. Confusing right? But that's crux of the film, which we cannot reveal.
Director Vikram Kumar took that old hit formula where in children help bring their estranged parents back together, a smart new screen writing twist by throwing in elements like destiny, romance, re-incarnation and humor. You cannot not appreciate the smarts in the script has been written, and how humorously it all gets translated onscreen without getting unduly melodramatic.
The breezy background score and snazzy camerawork provide the right sort of magical ambience for the story to play out. The performances all seem very natural. Naga Chaitanya seems to have loosened up quite a bit with his mannerisms on screen and plays the goofy college boy who has a thing for women's rear side quite charmingly. Nagarjuna anchor's the plot with a nuanced portrayal of a thirty something man who can't believe his luck when he discovers his parents reborn 30 years after their demise in a road accident. Samantha has the author backed role and they carry it off with aplomb. Shriya makes for the most beautiful sight in the movie and does a good job of playing a doctor who stammers and simple farmer from the early 1900's.
The episodes between Nag, Chaitanya and ANR are easily the best part of the movie. However, the movie seems to suffer from an over simplistic climax. When you have a situation in which five individuals from different eras cross paths you'd expect a theatrical climax. But the filmmaker chooses to use the climax to as an introductory show reel for Akhil Akkineni instead. Akhil does look the part in the cameo, no doubt, but just like a great magic trick that stumbles in the final act, the climax we are afraid, ends up shedding more light than heat, to quote Shakespeare.
But since this is ANR's last film, the cumulative nostalgia and feel goodness of the movie might just paper over the structural issues. It's definitely worth a watch.