Story: Raju garu (Prakash Raj) lives in Aatreyapuram with his wife (Jaya Sudha) who pines for her kids. Their two sons and daughter Jhansi live abroad and barely ever come to visit. When his wife asks Rajugaru to invite the kids for Sankranthi, knowing they never make time, he tells them that they have decided to get a divorce to make them come home. And when they do, Jhansi’s daughter Nitya (Anupama) and Raju (Sharwanand), Rajugaru’s grandson who is the village heartthrob fall in love. Amidst the family drama their love story too blossoms.
Movie Review: Every tried and tested Tollywood trope that a Sankranthi family cinema has promised time and again can be found in this film. The nostalgia-inducing festival traditions, village nativity (particularly baiting the US box offices), a bava mardalu romance and an abundance of dialogues highlighting the importance of family – what more do you need for a perfect pandaga watch! And that’s what Shatamanam Bhavati does. There isn’t much to the story itself in the film as much as there are those philosophical lines about love, life and family.
The movie is a story that can be told in 10 minutes but rides on a plethora of scenes that are meant to give you the “pandaga feel”. You watch a big happy family coming together for the festival and spending quality time with each other, and it does warm your heart. But there is no real conflict to the story. It’s just Prakash Raj’s final monologue that fixes everyone’s attitude. As for the love story, the only conflict was Jhansi considering her daughter’s love for Raju just infatuation. And considering what we see, it could just be true.
Here’s the love story: Raju is the intelligent, obedient and loving young boy who girls in the village drool over. The village goody-two-shoes who has absolutely nothing negative about him. Nitya is the Australian-born NRI maradalu who at first was reluctant to even visit India but over the short trip falls in love with Raju and decides to stay back forever in Aatreyapuram as his wife. Sure does sound like infatuation. But well, it only takes a second for Prakash Raj to change Jhansi’s mind. He says, “inthakante manchi alludu dorakadu” and just like that she’s convinced. If that doesn’t sum up the dramatic liberties that were taken in the film I don’t know what does.
Technically, the cinematography is top-notch – due credit must be given to the locations as well. Prakash Raj nailed his role and so did Indraja and Jaya Sudha. Sharwanand’s performance somehow felt disconnected and uninterested while Anupama’s prowess as an actress was wasted in the role. She just had to be the wide-eyed NRI mardalu who is excited pretty much about everything that catches her eye. She did look ravishing though, albeit too young. Music is basically the love-child of SVSC and A Aa. Mickey doesn’t seem to have recovered from the hangover.
All said and done, Shatamanam Bhavathi doesn’t offer much as a film. However, this is the holiday season, and if you wanted watch a laid-back low-risk film with your family, there couldn’t be a better choice.