A lot of Bollywood movies suffer from the curse of the second half. This is when, after delivering a first half full of hasi khushi, the director leaves too much emotional ground to cover after the intermission thus creating a joyless second act.
Bommarillu - which is the second movie in my Tollywood initiation (thanks again to Meena) - solves this problem rather elegantly. Its essentially two movies in one - a college rom-com before the intermission and a bahu-out-of-water social drama after. Two different stories - loosely intersecting in the middle - allows director Bhaskar to ratchet up the interest and curiosity by resetting the story midway.
Besides this, there are two things worth mentioning that give Bommarillu its sweet mojo.
Siddarth, who plays a privileged recent college graduate called Siddhu, is stuck in a distinctly un-flashy role. For the most part he wears a dorky hairstyle and long sleeved shirts. His character is a repressed one - smothered by too much attention from his domineering, if well meaning, father. Its not a classic lead setup.
Fortunately for us, Siddarth turns out to be a rip-roaringly smart actor because instead of trying to transcend his inner geekiness, he whole-heartedly embraces it. He codes this in the way he dances - with a goofy smiled fixed on his face and essaying his moves with a dweeb grace. And he strips his acting of all tried and tested Bollywood adaas. Later in the movie when he is called on to do some scenery chewing, he acts shrewdly with vulnerability instead of self-righteousness - keeping his character consistent and saving the tone of the movie.
Second, Bommarillu is essentially a well-meaning movie. In other words, none of the characters are under any real threat. There is no overt violence in the movie. People don't hand out chaatas or cry about their izzat being milaod in mitti. And this lightness is well protected in the film - primarily by Prakash Raj who plays Siddarth's father with a fair degree of ego-free control.
So, first half of Bommarillu is all about Siddarth fretting over his marriage getting fixed by his parents. While this unsettles him, he doesn't really have a good alternative scenario to present to his parents either. So off he goes to find himself some good hard loving. In doing so he meets cute with Genelia D'Souza - a Jab We Met types with humongous eyebrows that will surely get their own casting call someday.
Lekin hai, his shaadi is already fixed and so in the second half (yes, that last para does take half a movie to unwind) his father allows him to bring his girlfriend to stay in the house for a week. Why? Watch the movie and see if you can figure it out for me. In any case, over the second half Genelia tries to win over the family with her Geet-like free spirit.
Because Bommarillu is devoid of any genuine dramatic tension, it works only as a breezy romance. The songs are hugely catchy and often funny - the ones I enjoyed the most being the falling in love ditty Appudo Ippudo (in which Siddarth himself does vocal duties) and the expository romp Lal Darwaja.
The set design is nothing short of superlative - case in point are the scenes inside Siddarth's home where the walls, the utensils, the furniture and even the sarees the women wear are brilliantly coordinated along the color wheel.