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Times of India
Raama (Nagarjuna) who is a devotee of Lord Venkateswara denounces worldly pleasures including his soon-to-be-bride and maradalu Bhavani (Pragya Jaiswal) and ends up at Tirumala. He decides to change the face of Tirumala by turning it into ‘Kaliyuga Vaikuntham’ both for pilgrims and the deity with the help of Krishnamma (Anushka). His endeavours to do so, the hurdles and his encounters with the Lord himself is the story.
Movie Review :
Om Namo Venkatesaya is that occasional Nag-KRR devotional fix that Tollywood expects every now and then. And it upholds the same effect that Annamayya and Sri Ramadasu had had on the audiences. This time it was Hathiram Baba’s turn to tap the devotional side of Telugu audiences.
The story arc is exactly the same as the earlier flicks. The protagonist giving up worldly possessions to seek God, corrupt administrators obstruct his endeavours of bringing back Tirumala’s glory, thus becoming God’s favourite devotee, until finally the Lord graces him with a viswaroopa darsanam in the climax. This has been the story progression for all of KRR and Nagarjuna’s devotional flicks so far. No complaints! It has always worked and judging by the audience leaving the theatre with their palms folded in prayer, it looks like it has worked this time too. Despite the predictability, the film does keep you engaged more or less.
If you just focussed on the story of Raama’s bhakti and Lord Venkateswara’s (Saurabh Raj Jain) divinity, you will be absorbed into the drama. While the other artistes too play their roles convincingly in the little screen time they get, Nag and Saurabh certainly stole the spotlight and rightfully so. Nagarjuna is his usual best in the role of a devotee and particularly nails the emotional scenes. And with Saurabh it looks like Tollywood has found its new go-to actor to play God. Anushka in the scenes where her acting prowess has to shine through, delivers effortlessly. Pragya Jaiswal’s role as Bhavani is over before you even notice it. But not before moving her hips to a romancing and flower-throwing Nagarjuna.
Having said that, some of the other songs in the movie too like Pareeksha were meant to add drama to the situation but only ended up looking like a low-cost music video. It’s time we stopped forcing Anushka dance against her style. Particularly in those cheesy romantic songs. Anushka seemed just as uncomfortable as those watching when Jagapathi Babu tickles her with a feathered quill in Vayyari Kalahamsika.
All said and done, K Raghavender Rao has in the last couple of decades has created a monopoly in making mainstream devotional movies. One could argue that we are conditioned to this format of making them. But over time the absolute irrelevance of the force-fitted songs and comedy in such films is getting more obvious. Not to mention the outdated fruits, flowers and navel formula.
This movie is strictly for those who love the genre, the filmmaker and the combo. Others can watch it just for Nagarjuna.
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