Strange as it may sound, if there is any industry in Indian cinema that has been successfully using a ghost to tell a story with a pinch of humour, no prizes for guessing. It’s obviously Tollywood. Films based on a haunted house, a girl possessed by a ghost, a gang of amiable ghosts and a reincarnation or a revenge formula have been a common sight in our films, but one thing that has become an imperative element in such stories is comedy.
Of late, horror and comedy have become a saleable combination in Telugu cinema. Once again, director Kishore Kumaar (Laddu) brings back the popular horror-comedy genre with this week’s release Where Is The Venkatalakshmi.
Set in the backdrop of Bellampalli, the film tells the story of two aimless youth Chanti (Praveen) and Pandu (Madhunandhan) who follow around a girl, try to woo her, a startling surprise at hand, fell unknowingly into traps, only to be redeemed in the end. The formula of a horror-comedy is simple – make your audience laugh at their fears.
With Where Is The Venkatalakshmi, director Kishore Kumaar tried to stick to the stereotype of by making audience anticipate the horror element, but served it with juvenile jokes and spectacularly silly situations like the protagonists wearing a saree and dancing in front of the lustful goons and a woman flaunting her curves in the bathroom before scaring these guys as a ghost.
He was unsuccessful in weaving in a situational comedy that should gel with the plot perfectly and complement the lead characters. The dialogues of the protagonists, played by renowned comedians, have to be funny, but here, they are loud and adulterated. Midway through the film, it’s clear that the writing and direction have gone bonkers and its predictability lessens the emotional impact.
The narration meanders too much to arrive at its core and the treatment isn’t entertaining either. One doesn’t need an intelligent approach, but one should stay true to the genre and stick to the tone of the film.
The plotline smacks of an average Telugu movie buff and the conflicts too come off as outdated, implausible, and almost every character is cliche. Despite some embellishments like the popular number, Papa Neekedante Ishtam, the screenplay is embarrassingly amateurish because nothing really happens in the film.
Praveen and Madhnunandhan don’t hold up but the blame for that must be attributed to the poor script for reducing them to a laughing stock. Raai Laxmi tries to take your attention away from its many flaws.
Everything from her make-up to her costumes are designed with the intention to make the frontbenchers’ jaw drop. Pankaj Kesari, who played a crucial role in the film was reduced to stock caricature. The only thing that works is Hari Gowra’s music and background score.
Despite having some potential cast, director Kishore Kumaar has to take the blame for failing them miserably and not making this script work today.
|Movie: Where Is The Venkatalakshmi
Cast: Praveen, Madhunandhan, Raai Laxmi
Direction: Kishore Kumaar (Laddu)
— Murali Krishna CH