'Veera Simha reddy' movie review: Fails to rise above its over-exploited template
That’s the issue plaguing Veera Simha Reddy. If Balakrishna is a franchise like MCU, the problem with Veera Simha Reddy is superhero fatigue.
Published: 14th January 2023 08:23 AM | Last Updated: 14th January 2023 08:23 AM | A+A A-
While the West has superhero franchises, we have massive stars whose entire filmography almost doubles up as one. Our star vehicles are so riddled with references to their past glory and achievements that we are often confused as to which universe a film is set in, and in some cases, if there is a difference between reel and real life. It is through building on these iconic traits and unique styles that stars cement their legacy. While these asides are fun as long as they are... asides, it is just too overwhelming to see them take centre stage and become the entire film.
That’s the issue plaguing Veera Simha Reddy. If Balakrishna is a franchise like MCU, the problem with Veera Simha Reddy is superhero fatigue. Criticism is often levied against Marvel films for being formulaic and reengineering a generic template film after film. Veera Simha Reddy is a film that Balakrishna has acted in at least half a dozen times in the past decade. From conflicts in the story to the way scenes are played out, we have seen it all play out before, in better ways—in Simha (2010), Chennakesava Reddy (2002), and even more recently, Akhanda (2021).
In all honesty, we know what we are in for when we buy a ticket to a Balakrishna film. We are not in for an intellectually stimulating screenplay or inventive visual choices. But even then, Veera Simha Reddy feels like a crushing disappointment. To begin with, the story is as old as the hills with barely a single novel bone in it. Take Veera Simha Reddy’s introduction in the flashback in the second half, the sequence is strongly reminiscent of Balakrishna’s introduction in Legend (2014). Take the shallow sister sentiment angle, which is also the core conflict. It is just a reiteration of what we saw in Chennakesava Reddy. Perhaps the only inventive thing Veera Simha Reddy does is showcasing ‘seema faction’ in Istanbul.
Like Simha and Chennakesava Reddy, Veera Simha Reddy too is a story of a father and son, both essayed by Balakrishna. What’s unfortunate here is that Balakrishna’s age doesn’t make it easy for the actor to convincingly play both the older and younger characters anymore. While he looks the part as Veera Simha, his age is evident while playing the younger character, Jai Simha, which furthers the distance between the film and the viewer. Also, it is surprising to see a film of this scale fall short on hair & make-up, and VFX (scenes shot in green matte are glaring).
At heart, it features themes like redemption and a morally upright protagonist who sacrifices his personal life, happiness and peace for the overall well-being of his world. Exploring these facets with the depth they deserve would have made for a strong emotional film. But, unfortunately, the film’s priorities lie in exalting its hero, who is, in reality, a bitter and tragic figure, and of course, romanticising his violent deeds as heroic acts. I wouldn’t have pointed out the glorification part had the film not deliberately tried to justify the character’s violent ways.
There are some interesting ideas emanating from Veera Simha’s character and the film does try to spin some effective mass moments out of them. The one set around a mass marriage event is pretty enjoyable. Similarly, during the film’s most important moment, it is Veera Simha’s emotions that ultimately hurt him, not dozens of thugs who attack him with knives. The film’s only interesting character comes in the form of Bhanumati (Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, the best thing about the film), and the emotional core that encircles her character is strongly spelled out.
And the biggest problem about the film, in addition to the lack of novelty, is the screenplay structure that dwells too much on a back story that we really do not care about because where it all leads to, the present, is not interesting in the first place. Also, the writing completely forgets a thread involving Murali Sharma’s character that perpetuates the film’s biggest turn. One can only wonder why nobody realised that they were missing out on a key part.
What do I say about the humour in the film? The intentional ones feature a silly and mirthless thread with Shruti Haasan. The fact that the writer believes that she gets a wholesome arc—one that involves finding her calling— is mind-numbingly frivolous. She falls for Jai Simha in three scenes and decides to get married to him. Jai Simha too immediately begins to develop romantic feelings (Sugana Sundari song) a moment after his mother tells him to gift her his surname. That’s how love works? I am looking for logic in the wrong place. The unintentionally funny humour stems from Duniya Vijay’s Pratap Reddy, who looks less like a villain in a masala movie and more like a parody of a villain in a masala movie, assimilating every possible cliche. He relentlessly keeps trying to kill Veera Simha for 30 years and miserably fails at every attempt. Yet, he doesn’t give up.
If there is one thing I will take away from Veera Simha Reddy, it would be Pratap Reddy’s unflinching determination. Even a man of Pratap Reddy’s resolve and tolerance would have a tough time enduring Veera Simha Reddy.
Veera Simha reddy
Cast: Nandamuri Balakrishna, Varalaxmi Sarathkumar,Honey Rose
Director: Gopichand Malineni