Shailaja Reddy Alludu
Movie: Shailaja Reddy Alludu
Cast: Naga Chaitanya, Anu Emmanuel, Ramya Krishna, Vennela Kishore
Rating: 3/ 5 stars
Director Maruthi has found a profound obsession for stories that show his protagonist dealing with a disorder. Be it Nani in Bhale Bhale Magadivoy (absent-minded nature), Venkatesh in Babu Bangaram (hyper-empathy), Sharwanand in Mahanubhavudu (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and his recent writing Brand Babu (brand obsession), the director has been persistently drawn to such themes. Keeping the tradition alive, Maruthi has revisited the bygone era and has packed a story soaked in ego and narcissism in his latest outing Shailaja Reddy Alludu.
The film has an impressive pedigree – Naga Chaitanya and Anu Emmanuel as the lead pair, Ramya Krishna in a pivotal role, Vennela Kishore as the protagonist’s sidekick and Prudhvi in a humorous role. The premise is also a familiar one: a happy-go-lucky, Chay (Naga Chaitanya) falls at first sight for his neighbourhood girl, Anu (Anu Emmanuel), who’s the daughter of Shailaja Reddy (Ramya Krishna), a manifestation of ego and narcissism. The protagonist’s father, who’s equally egocentric complicates the proceedings in a momentary lapse of judgement. The story then shifts to Anu’s native village near Warangal with Chay caught between his father and tyrannical ‘atha’ to pass the test of the commitment.
Unlike Maruthi’s previous outings, Shailaja Reddy Alludu looks like a throwback to those family dramas of the 80’s. So, the director’s ensures that he doesn’t forgo the traditional movie making pattern – a punch-line by the hero’s side-kick, elevation scenes and that 90’s background score when our hero gets into action mode, a family conflict, a few underdeveloped characters to offer some entertainment, the much-needed resolution and winning back the lady love.
The first hour keeps the audience engaged with Maruthi-mark candy floss entertainment, romance and action sequences. However, the narrative is stretched with predictability ruining the fun post-intermission, but you nevertheless wait to see how the drama unfolds. Twenty minutes into the second hour, the film struggles unsuccessfully to channel the simplistic, comedy of errors format of Srinu Vaitla’s films and the family melodrama of Super Good Films early hits. But in a script that shows creative bankruptcy, it’s commendable on the director’s part for not portraying either of Ramya Krishna and Murali Sharma as an embodiment of evil.
There is a hat-tip to feminism too in the film involving Ramya Krishna’s character that acts as a catalyst between her iconic Neelambari (Narasimha) and Sivagami (The Baahubali franchise). The film benefits from some finest performances. Naga Chaitanya is at ease and doesn’t miss a beat. Ramya Krishna played her part with both heart and soul. She lends credibility to the acting department in a sluggish paced second hour plagued by song breaks.
Equally charming are Vennela Kishore and Prudhvi, who bring the house down with their comic timing. Anu Emmanuel carried herself well throughout the film. She conveys emotional vulnerability and confidence in scenes involving Ramya Krishna. Naresh Vijaya Krishna is in good form and delivers restrained performance with his one-note approach to the role.
Gopi Sundar’s music and background score fit the bill and three songs – the title song, Egiregire and Anu Baby are a joy to watch. Shailaja Reddy Alludu is an old-hat, formulaic film that will resonate with the masses, who find comfort in its familiarity and are excited by the stories that revolve around ‘Alludu-Atha’ conflict, especially for the festive season.