Waltair Veerayya Movie Review: An in-form Chiranjeevi doesn't make this film a pumped-up experience
Waltair Veerayya starring Chiranjeevi and Ravi Teja is about a fisherman named Veerayya trying to redeem his step-brother.
Name: Waltair Veerayya
Cast: Shruti Haasan,Ravi Teja,Chiranjeevi,prakash raj,Urvashi Rautela,Sathyaraj,Bobby Simha
It is just 13 days into 2023 and Tollywood has already misused the word 'vintage' a zillion times. The film under review has been advertised as a glorious, unapologetic return by the legendary Chiranjeevi to his "vintage", mass avatar. Usually, promotions in Telugu cinema exploit all sorts of fawning vocabularies. In the case of 'Waltair Veerayya', Telugu colloquial has been wedded to English to coin this sexy term called 'Poonakalu Loading'. For the non-Telugus, it signifies the delirious experience a fanboy would undergo upon watching their favourite star on the big screen. 'Naatu Naatu' was the biggest 'poonakalu loading' moment of 2022, you could say.
The film under review scrapes the bottom of the barrel in its attempt to give a saturated experience - an exaggeration it calls 'poonakalu loading'. From a wannabe drug lord to a cop, from RAW agents to comedians, everyone is pressed into service to dish out entertainment in the form of repartees/bloated reactions. Even a dead father is used to whip up laughs. Most of the time, the attempts fall flat.
What is it about?
Cutting to the chase, the film is about a fisherman named Veerayya trying to redeem his step-brother (played by Ravi Teja). In the process, he collides with two dreaded mafia men (played by Bobby Simha and Prakash Raj). The story is pregnant with the potential for back-to-back action blocks. To be fair to the film, its appetite for fights is thankfully not intense.
The problem is that it doesn't get other essential ingredients right. The comedy is insipid and Devi Sri Prasad's songs hinge too much on the Mega charm. His background score is bleak.
Largely depressing feel
Rajendra Prasad plays a cop in distress who always wears that depressed look. In a scene, when a character tells him to hide his emotions, we are like, "Yes, please! You have been going overboard." Shruti Haasan's entry comes with a mischievous 'Gabbar Singh' reference, giving the fanboys of Pawan Kalyan a reason to cheer. When her character's motives are revealed, we find her comical behaviour with Veeryya a tad awkward. She tells him cute things like "Look into my eyes" as if she were a party animal stuck with a fun-loving gentleman at a pub.
This reminds us of the song 'Boss Party', a title that was used as a proxy to describe the entertainment quotient of the movie. The song strikes immediately after a VFX-laden, synthetic action block right in the middle of the sea. It feels rushed. The songs might gratify the fanboys as well as the general audience to an extent and that's purely because of you know who.
Mass Maharaja lacks good characterization
Given Ravi Teja's versatility and image, his character should have been irreverent and driven by occasionally crazy antics. Nobody would have complained. He looks a tad serious for the film's sensibilities. Bobby Simha and Prakash Raj play the most important negative characters of consequence. And they both get a raw deal. The first ten minutes hinge on the former's character. He never gets to utter a single explosive line as long as he lasts. When you are pitting an antagonist against someone like the Megastar, you can't afford to make him say standard-fare things in a deadpan fashion. Until he says everyone in the system is scared of him, the audience doesn't get to sense the writers' intentions. If he is that scary, why is the RAW in Malaysia so under-prepared to tackle him?
As for Prakash Raj, his acting style reminds us of movies like 'Oosaravelli' (2011). Call it poor writing or whatever, his Michael Ceaser is ultra-generic. Casting Jhansi as a lawyer is one of the least horrific casting choices. Everyone from Manobala to Pradeep Rawat, Nasser to Sathyaraj is inappropriate.
In-form Chiranjeevi is lovely
Chiranjeevi is passable when he is not doing comedy in this film. The spoof on the famous 'Cheppe moodu, uthsaham' meme is hilarious. And dialogues like these serve his fandom: "He has reached the top without any background. And he is the background for many." He takes to the world of drugs and smuggling with unrealistic ease. He is never challenged, he is never overpowered - his only vulnerability is his fear of heights.
The film is overpopulated in terms of casting. The garden-variety characters and their gaffes are too slapstick-y.