'Waltair Veerayya' movie review: Enjoyable, even if familiar, masala outing

A masala film plunging into the story in its first scene, without wasting a single minute, is a rarity. When that happened in Waltair Veerayya, I felt a certain sense of assurance.
Megastar Chiranjeevi (Photo | IANS)
Megastar Chiranjeevi (Photo | IANS)

A masala film plunging into the story in its first scene, without wasting a single minute, is a rarity. When that happened in Waltair Veerayya, I felt a certain sense of assurance. Filmmaker Bobby Kolli sustains this assurance throughout and fulfills the promise of presenting Chiranjeevi in his vintage ‘90s glory. 

From the original ‘Mega Star’ title card in the opening to a multitude of references to iconic moments from his filmography—the celebrated Muta Mestri step, a hilarious iteration of a rather serious monologue against bribery from Tagore, a reenactment of Abbani Theeyani Dhebba—the film is filled with many enjoyable moments that rely on Chiranjeevi’s legacy. But that’s not all. 

Chiranjeevi’s Veerayya does break the fourth wall multiple times, but it doesn’t solely depend on these moments to keep the audience hooked. There’s an attempt to tell a story with coherence and offer closure to multiple arcs. For instance, we are told that Veerayya, the leader of a fishing community, is fighting a case in court. We don’t know what the case is about until the climax, but once it is revealed, it turns out to be something of immense importance to the story and character.

Likewise, early on, Veerayya’s vertigo issue is initially employed for the sake of humour and a trivial but harmless romantic angle featuring Shruti Haasan (who gets a fine role, packed with a surprise, after a catastrophic character in Veera Simha Reddy). However, his fear of heights not only is used as a conflict of sorts in the backstory but also culminates in a beautiful, emotional moment towards the end. Likewise, an element introduced in the tiny backstory that elucidates the cruelty of the film’s villain, Michael (Prakash Raj), becomes a part of Veerayya’s scheme to take on the antagonist.

Perhaps, I am just too happy with the cohesiveness on display after enduring Veera Simha Reddy less than 24 hours ago. Bobby Kolli is cautious about keeping the screenplay as tight and packed as possible and this makes Waltair Veerayya an engaging experience, where you know that one moment will definitely lead to another bigger moment. Perhaps the only forced choice in the screenplay is the placement of the dance number, ‘Neekemo Andham Ekkuva’ in the climax.

Like I said, Waltair Veerayya is a simple, self-aware film with a small storyline. When Soloman Ceaser (Simhaa) murders his entire police unit, a sincere but helpless cop (Rajendra Prasad) hires Veerayya to bring the bad guy to justice. But there’s more to the film and Veerayya, with Solomon being only the first level of his secret mission. Yes, it is a familiar revenge-driven plot; the second half and Ravi Teja’s character answer the ‘why’ which anyone can guess. But it is more about the ‘how’ here. Despite being someone who harbours nothing but distaste for the idea of ‘flashback in the second half’, I had a great time with Waltair Veerayya, thanks to the charming humour and strong emotional value it has to offer in these portions. 

The way character dynamics between Chiranjeevi and Ravi Teja play out—mostly for humour and then to land one effective, moving moment—invigorates the film big time in the second half. This is also where Bobby succeeds the most in using Chiranjeevi’s comic timing. It takes some time getting used to the dialect and the decidedly theatrical nature of the character, it quickly turns into an enjoyable fare. There’s also a recurring gag where Veerayya gets intimidated by Ravi Teja and these scenes are an absolute treat to behold. There’s something highly pleasurable in witnessing Chiranjeevi have fun with his character. Also, to see the hero—despite getting liberal doses of heroism—not being lionised by every character or exalted beyond the range of the character felt like a breath of fresh air. 

Chiranjeevi plays a jolly-good character with a persistent smile in the film; that’s not new. But the film tries to tell you why he is always smiling. Is the reason strong and convincing enough? That’s subjective. But to see a masala film try to give a reason felt good. In the film’s banger intermission sequence (Telugu are so good at it!) Chiranjeevi rides an elephant. It’s a glorious mass moment, yes. But why does he get on the elephant in the first place? To stop the bad guy from escaping in the car. Reasoning, you see. And Waltair Veerayya, as a film, is well-made with an in-form DSP. 

Film: Waltair Veerayya
Cast: Chiranjeevi, Ravi Teja, Prakash Raj, Simhaa Shruti Haasan
Director: Bobby Kolli
Rating: 3/5

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