Early on in the film we picked - Pokiri - there is a scene in which a bunch of gang members decide to beat up hero Pandu. As a show of strength, they decide to chase him down in his own neighborhood.
Soon a bunch of bloodthirsty ruffians are chasing Pandu, whose face we can't see just yet, through some gulley-nukkads. Some genius hasti tries to use a sabji-ki-lahri to nail Pandu - who incredibly enough senses it and while still running jumps over it. Thus we are introduced to Mahesh Babu - while he's still flying in the air in slow-mo with bright red chillies and polished green capsicums swirling around him along with other vegetables of lesser personality.
At that point I told myself: Boss, any movie that can open thusly has got to be fun to watch.
Pokiri is a rather typical masala movie - its got action, romance, comedy and social commentary. It has a very urban design - almost everyone in the movie looks like a mall rat from Mumbai and talks in Teluhinglish. Pokiri is also ridiculously entertaining.
In this movie there are two kinds of people - those that are part of the Land Mafia (gangs that use their muscle to pry money out of Hyderabad's booming infrastructure businesses) and those that are not. Sure there are policemen but they also belong to one of these two groups.
Pandu is a free agent fast building a reputation as a ruthless goonda. As a consequence he is offered a position as Chief Muscle in a gang run by a Dubai honcho called Alibhai. Pandu gets to work - twisting arms and cracking bones and quickly becomes the mainstay of the Alibhai gang.
At one point he runs into Sruthi played by Ileana D'Cruz who looks like Amrita Rao with the addition of about eight inches in height and a ton of extra hotness. For reasons which are revealed later, she is always either coming from or going to an aerobics class. For reasons that are not revealed later, she has a savage fondness for upma.
Pandu and Sruthi meet cute - which in Pokiri consists of two scenes: Pandu ogles at Sruthi doing aerobics, cut and Pandu sees Sruthi at train station, grabs her and reads her T-shirt, cut. Probably not representative of Hyderabad boys and gals. But importantly both stars managed to give me enough insights into why they might have fallen for each other - a huge plus in any movie.
Pokiri is full of elaborately orchestrated, stylistic and bloody fight sequences - its not for the faint of heart. The action is replete with a lot of hard stunts (no CGI that I could detect). Some of them work, some of them don't. Most of them are very derivative, but they are all fun to watch particularly one in which Sruthi comes face to face with the violence in Pandu's life as he brutalizes ten henchmen with Jet Li-like moves.
There is a significant quantity of violence directed towards women. A mock rape is staged. The media is taken apart, so is the police force. Cell phone porn makes an appearance. There is a rather cleverly conceived if tepidly executed comedy sequence about a union of beggars.
All through this, Mahesh Babu does a stellar job of holding the movie together. Mahesh is a gora-chitta, Shahid Kapur types with a strangely morphing hairstyle that kept my curiosity company through the slower scenes in the film. He is quite convincing as a goonda who is a loose canon. And he brings a deft alpha-male caginess to his scenes with D'Cruz that allow a taut chemistry to develop between the two.
Finally, watching an Indian film with subtitles is a strangely out of body experience for me. Since the movie looked and felt like a Bollywood film, I felt somewhat culturally cheated. After all, I'm used to watching Tamil songs where the leads cavort with each other in some outdoor setting, thus allowing me to make astute regional observations like "Boy, they sure have a lot of hay in Tamil Nadu".
I now have part appreciation of how much Beth has to try to get into the spirit of the movies she watches. But I hope to watch much more Tollywood and someday even get to Malayalam films and Mammootty.
Wish me luck!
- Saritha has something to say in telugu and about Mahesh Babu
- VC says Pokiri is being remade in Hindi with Salman and Ayesha
- sidekick narrates the hazards of relying on subtitles
- Amrita suggests Nayakan and one special Mammooty movie
- Beth on Mammooty
- anu g promises to catch up with Pokiri
- Hey how about them Gujju films says girlie girl
- meena lists two tamil movies that transcend subtitles
- The dialogs in gujju movies crack up Spruha
- Cinderella recommends Mohanlal for a intro to Malayalam cinema