What happens when you have all the wealth in the world and yet remain unhappy, craving for something you can’t even fully comprehend? That’s exactly what Mahesh Babu goes through in Koratala Siva’s Srimanthudu.
The director showcases power, greed, corruption as well as regression, hope and agony, in equal measure. However, while Mahesh Babu effortlessly sails through the movie, Srimanthudu is cliched, unimaginative and stretched beyond its potential.Ravikanth (Jagapati Babu) is a cold, hard businessman and is one of the wealthiest persons in Hyderabad.
Despite achieving great professional success, he struggles to relate to his own son, Harshvardhan (Mahesh Babu), who shows no interest in money or taking over his company. A diamond in the rough, Harsha meets Charusheela (Shruti Hassan), a student pursuing a course in rural development. Intrigued by the subject, he too joins the course and the duo fall in love. However, Charusheela decides to cut all ties when she realises that Harsha is the son of industrialist Ravikanth, who left her village to make money, leaving the village in shambles.
To prove her wrong, Harsha decides to visit the village and change it. How he transforms a village beyond saving and frees it from the clutches of corrupt politicians, makes for the rest of the story.
While the film is quite gripping when it starts off, it moves at a sluggish pace and drags on unnecessarily. Random placement of songs for inexplicable reasons further infuriates the viewers.
The costumes and visuals are appealing and R Madhi’s cinematography is first-rate. However, editing by K Venkateshwara Rao is shockingly poor and the film is loaded (needlessly) with sentiment.
Devi Sri Prasad’s music, save for a couple of songs, is disappointing. Comedian Ali is wasted in an unwarranted, blink-and-miss role. Whatever little humour there is in the film looks forced and unnecessary.
The film also bears a striking resemblance to Ashutosh Gowarikar’s Swades, which further adds to its stereotypical setting.
Srimanthudu is Mahesh Babu’s film through and through. The actor brushes aside an ensemble cast and shines right through.
Mahesh plays his part to perfection, but his expression remains the same throughout the movie and the actor just rides on his charming looks. Shruti Hassan does a decent job as his love interest and fits the part as the traditional girl. Jagapathi Babu does a splendid job as the stern businessman but is let down by poor characterisation. What started as a powerful character, fizzles out as the film progresses. Rajendra Prasad is the surprise package in the film and does a fine job as a representative of a hapless village. The antagonists Mukesh Rishi and Sampath Raj are equally effective, while Rahul Ravindran is wasted in an inconsequential role.
Koratala Siva takes the tried and tested route when it comes to family dramas and plays the emotion card throughout the movie. And while his intentions may be noble, he is let down by a weak script and a faulty screenplay. Srimanthudu would have made for much better viewing if it had been cut shorter by about half an hour. At the end of it, watching the film becomes an endurance rather than an experience.