By now, viewers familiar with Telugu cinema know exactly what to expect from a village drama. There is an underlying ‘Kutumbam’ sentiment, a man who is well-respected among the community, where people look upto him and seek his help in times of trouble, a traditional girl who falls for this man and vice-versa, and a bad guy who tries to destroy him and his family.
Add in a few songs and fights and you have the complete package. In that sense, the Pawan Kalyan-starrer Katamarayudu offers nothing new to the viewers. Undoubtedly, there is the ‘Powerstar factor’ – and Pawan does shine right through the film, but he’s let down by a mediocre, stereotypical script.
Pawan Kalyan in and as Katamarayudu is a fierce and just leader in a Rayalaseema district. He has four brothers who mean the world to him. There’s obviously a heroic element around him, that is often created around big stars for cinematic effect. When Katamarayudu stamps the ground, six scorpios fly up in the air and crash to the ground. He also drinks fine scotch and hates women, or even the mention of them.
That is until he meets Avanthika (Shruti Haasan), who comes to live in his neighbouring house, reminds him of his childhood crush, and wins his heart with her classical dance and innocence. But Katamarayudu has enemies
There are those he had destroyed, who seek revenge. They feel the best way to get to him is to take away the one thing that is closest to him – his brothers. Will they succeed, or will Katamarayudu jump in to save them in heroic fashion? I’ll leave you with that, but if you’ve seen enough Telugu films, it’s quite easy to guess what happens next.
And that’s the real problem with Katamarayudu. The film is so predictable that the viewers can sleep through half of it and still be able to tell what happens next. The writing is shoddy and lacks imagination. The villains are reduced to caricatures and the comic scenes aren’t funny enough. Tollywood’s obsession with shooting songs in foreign locales is sometimes silly. Yes, it has visual appeal but in a film like Katamarayudu, the switch from Rayalaseema to Europe, without any connection (just for a song), is quite jarring. Make a village drama by all means, but make sure you stick to it.
To be fair, director Kishore Kumar Pardasani does well to keep things moving all the time. Despite the predictability of it all, he ensures there’s never a dull moment. Visually too, Katamarayudu looks spectacular with cinematographer Prasad Murella doing a fine job. Music (by Anup Rubens), is quite decent.
But the thing that transforms Katamarayudu from an intolerable bore to a watchable fare is Pawan Kalyan’s performance. The actor may have his limitations but he does exactly what fans expect from him and love him for. He breezes through the film in his inimitable style and somewhat makes up for the unimaginative writing on show.
Shruti Haasan does well as the glamourous village girl, while the four brothers who form Katamarayudu’s army deliver decent performances. Prudhvi Raj provides comic relief, while Rao Ramesh gets stereotyped again.
For all the hype and craze surrounding the Powerstar, you can’t help but think of how Katamarayudu is exactly similar to the umpteen number of village dramas made in the 80s and 90s. Yes, the Powerstar shines, but in 2017, is it too much to want a bit more than that?