Varudu Kaavalenu Review: Stock elements undo the worth of a weighty storyline
Cast: Naga Shaurya, Ritu Varma and others
Director: Lakshmi Sowjanya
In the initial moments of 'Varudu Kaavalenu', Bhumi (Ritu Varma as a fun-hating founder of an eco-friendly start-up) says that she doesn't remember how she used to be. It's an early hint that she comes with an unpleasant past, which is kept suspenseful until the second half. But for this element, this film would have fallen flat despite the attempt at telling a coming-of-age love story between a soft-spoken, virtuous architect (Naga Shaurya as Akash) and a short-tempered woman in her late 20s.
In the beginning, director Lakshmi Sowjanya deploys the 'I love the saree-wearing Indian woman' trope without any justification whatsoever. The film threatens to become another bland celebration of the simplicity of a life away from the gloss and glitz of the corporate world. Soon enough, the occasionally incisive dialogues hold some promise. We wait for Bhumi to explore her relationship with Akash, who is a Paris returnee drawn towards her from the word go.
The flashback is where the soul of the film was supposed to be. But the way the scenes play out, they feel too generic or stale. Bhumi is harassed not once but twice by eve-teasers who behave like potential rapists. The stock element (read harassers vs. good-natured hero) has been done to death in Telugu cinema. There comes a point when a key character asks Akash how come he is single when he knows how to bash up baddies. 'Veerudu Kaavalenu' should have been the title, serving as a warning.
For every decent element (a Chinmayi-crooned song here, a Sid Sriram rendition there), there is an outmoded trope waiting to make our experience boring. Bhumi, the output-oriented boss who brooks no nonsense, inexplicably employs a good-for-nothing architect (Vennela Kishore's comedy doesn't elicit laughs). A character stresses that Bhumi may have anger issues but she is sweet-hearted otherwise -- as if we wouldn't be able to figure it out ourselves. Also, why can't a female lead be unsanitized the way a Sekhar Kammula heroine is?
To elevate Akash, everyone around him is shown to need his intervention/timely help. He convinces a total stranger in two minutes flat to give his son in marriage to an orphan. Impressed by his instantaneous mediation skills, Bhumi opts for a dream song like a typical Telugu cinema heroine. While Akash can solve others' problems without a lag, he takes forever to speak his mind, letting Bhumi remain confused/perplexed.
Vishal Chandrasekhar's background music is too muted, while Vamsi Patchipulusu's cinematography is so-so.
'Varudu Kaavalenu' comes into its own in a few portions in the second half. Murali Sharma, as Bhumi's father, makes total sense when he asks his wife (Nadhiya, whose characterization was supposed to be funny but it feels melodramatic) to give her daughter the time she needs to figure out what she wants in life. Thaman's 'Digu Digu Digu Naga' is an enjoyable song, although the choreography is half-hearted. The performances are adequate. Saptagiri evokes laughs. Harsha Vardhan plays a character that would have been done by a Rao Ramesh in a star vehicle. Himaja and others add no value.