Wednesday, March 19, 2008

More Telugu movies: Bommarillu

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.

Also:

44 comments:

Cinderella said...

Aspi,
I had been soooo looking forward to this review!Awesome!

Bommarillu-It had been such a rage when it was released.there was nothing about the movie that i did not like!

but i never understood why the movie was named 'Bommarillu'????
i don't know what that means!

Prakash Raj's character sometimes reminds me of my dad...hehe:)
about how i'm supposed to eat and stuff like that.
are all dad's like that or is it just with me???
but he's not that strict,thankfully!!

And the girl's character seemed unreal to me at times.like Jab we met as u said.

but nevertheless,it's a fun movie...sooo enjoyable...everyone watch it!! after a tough day ,it'll surely make u smile:)

And,when i was a kid there were days when i actually believed the horns popping up thing..it used to get me all worried and my brother and sister used to have a good time laughing off at me:P

anu g said...

Wow, I must catch up with it. Saritha is going to be really upset with me, letting down the name of Hyderabad etc etc,. Saritha, my problem is: the kids dont understand Telugu, so when we have the time, we go for a Hindi movie instead.

Joules said...

If I ever do a list of bollywood's most promising stars, Siddharth would be high on my list. He is a great looking guy with some intense acting skills. Too bad he is so selective about his hindi movies.

Heard he is acting in a movie called "Striker". I hope the movie comes out soon.

girlie girl said...

I agree joules, he's a phenomenal actor and so damn cute!! I really wanted to watch this movie but I cant find any place that has a dvd with subtitles...does anyone know if I can watch it online somewhere with subtitles??

I heard that too Joules, it's a movie about a legendary Carrom player or something. I really wish he did more Hindi movies. I heard a while ago that he was supposed to be in Delhi 6, but I guess Abhishek took over that instead. Bummer!!

meena said...

Cinderella,

Bommarillu means 'Doll's house'. I can only guess that the moviemakers thought it as an allegory of the dad's desire to build his home/family according to his vision expecting everyone to fall in with him as so many inanimate dolls.

Its so easy to be a I-know-whats-best kind of parent and lose sight of your kids.
Desi parents ...take note!

Siddharth is great! very watchable and refreshingly different.

Aspi, there are three other hit telugu movies (before Bommarillu) with Siddharth.

Anu g,

my kids dont speak hindi or telugu either but we started taking them to watch bollywood movies with subtitles and they are totally into it now. I have great hopes that they will start picking up the langs via movies! pick a good movie and try it with your kids it may work.

anu g said...

Meena,I guess u r right.We'd been living in the North for many years until recently, so the kids havent watched Tamil movies too. I did take my kids along to a movie with Venkatesh some years ago(I just cant remember the name now) and my son was fascinated and loved the movie(I kept translating) cos the hero said he would not study, and became a famous singer instead:).

Aspi said...

I'd also like to report that I'm getting better at understanding cultural context. This really helps with the jokes. It helps that I grew up around Tamil neighbors early on - its not too far removed :)

However now I'm having to ward off weird looks from friends when I tell them I'm watching Telugu movies. "Isn't the standard for good looks really low *there*?" one asked me. I didn't know what to say so I just said "Abhishek Bachchan".

Anonymous said...

Aspi,

Love the review - You're right, Genelia's character is rather Geet-like, but she doesn't irritate the crap out of me, unlike Kareena, so I rather liked the movie. Plus, I understand the language enough to follow movies, so that is a bonus :-)

(Not Telugu speaking, but grew up in B'lore, and Kannada and Telugu are close enough)

- Bitterlemons

sidekick said...

aspi, surely now you're an honorary gult! i'm part of the sid fan club too, so maybe i shd source the DVD at the local indian store. with sid and mahesh babu leading the next gen, i don't think the standard for leading men in Telugu cinema is too shabby! speaking of sid, rumored lady love soha seems to be in hot water

anu g said...

Meena, the movie was 'Vaasu'. I casually asked my son the name and he told me:).I didnt realise it had made such an impact on my son that he stll remembers the name after 5 years!Ok, now please tell me the name of another Telugu movie where the hero studies really well and is an achcha-bachcha types:). I can try some reverse psychology :).

Aspi said...

Bitterlemons, the problem I have with minor airhead like characters is I can never tell why they're in love. Which makes me a little unsettled.

sidekick, Beth has been telling me how the Sivaji DVDs don't carry subtitles. This has me in a state of panic. What to do? I will have to devise some other plan of action.

megan said...

thats the dude from RDB, i thought his performance was mediocre at best and i don't find him good looking from any angle.. sorry

Amrita said...

Erm, sorry Sid lovers, I have to go with Megan here. Not on my hunk list. However, I think he has personality. Seriously. On camera anyway, I don't know about off camera.

I've begun liking Telugu movies since I entered my 20s. Esp when they're dubbed into Hindi. It's a trip all its own.

Talking of which, do you guys know they're releasing the Hindi dubbed version of Rajni's Chandramukhi?

Aspi, if they're not handing out subtitled Sivajis then you ought to see this. It's the Tamil version of Malayalam's Manichitratazhu or Hindi's Bhool Bhulaiyya.

Pratik said...

Telugu Movies!!!..Sound interesting!...I have never seen those..but I liked Siddharth in RDB..Also telugu movies is not a bad idea, especially their song-dance routines :D

Tania said...

Aspi
Nice review. I have to go back to watching Telugu movies again which I haven't done for the last years since hubby doesn't understand the language.
Can the avid Telugu movie watchers recommend some good ones from the current ones?
I like Sidharth albeit I haven't seen him much

Joules said...

I am sorry Rajnikanth movies are not for me. The guy is and acts like such a superstar that the story of the movie and other characters takes a back seat. Its like Amitabh movies from the 90s or Hrithik Roshan in his dad's movies.

This is with the caveat that I haven't seen a recent Rajnikanth movie. My perspective of him is based on his foray in Hindi movies.

Aspi said...

Sid is the anti-Hrithik if there ever was one. He has a place in movies - hopefully he won't end up becoming the hero's chamchaa, you know the youngish looking one to offset the college boy playing hero's paunch and advancing years.

Rishi Kapoor, I'm looking at you. (Not sure why I'm in a Rishi bashing mood these days - I actually even like the guy a lot)

meena said...

Joules, finally, someone dares to say Rajni is not for me. Most people I confess this to give me a pitying stare.

Its not that I dont understand the larger-than-life star quality that fans go crazy over but sit throught a whole Rajni movie I could not. He is at the point where he is a caricature of himself (Amitabh in Shahenshah anyone?)

girlie girl said...

ooh, Aspi, we haven't bashed anyone in a while...it's get at it!!

I agree...i dont want to see Sid turn into a sidekick type of character...I think he's got a much better screen presence than that...

Aspi said...

Not to be confused with the sidekick who graces our site - who would be the lead in any movie that the Drift would ever finance.

Joules said...

Ugggh, my worst nightmare, Sid playing sidekick to Rishi who is still playing a college student. hahaha

girlie girl said...

no, no...i dont mean the Drift sidekick...!

haha joules...there's an image!!

Tania said...

OMG Joules
I am ROTFLing at your comment.
Remember Rishi in his colorful sweaters in movies like Bol Radha bol etc.

Joules said...

Thank Aspi, for putting that image in my head.

meena said...

anu g, try this movie. If you hope to find a role model type hero movie to watch with your son, you are doomed before you begin. the best you can hope for are good, clean and fun movies.There is still a lot of casual brutal violence, chata maroing and tawdry humor going on in most of them.

meena said...

also ...any of the Shekhar Kammula movies are good as well - Anand, Godavari, Happy Days.

Aspi said...

Those scenes with Sid coddling a beer bottle when with friends might take some explaining to the kids in this movie.

But lets not get ahead of ourselves here: can anyone find me a movie trailer (or montaged song) that might be good to share with the kids. Then we can talk about extended exposure via films.

meena said...

In this item-song zamana Aspi? .. still I heard from several thirty somethings (raised in US) that the Indian cultural context was defined for them (apart from desi friends/family) from Amitabh Bachchan movies and Amar Chitra Katha comics.

meena said...

BTW have you seen nickelodeon shows? the gender, personality stereotyping is just awful. After trying to correct that influence, I would welcome something so straighforward as explaining away the bottle scene.

Aspi said...

Which is why Spongebob, which is essentially a show about an annoying yellow sponge and a really dumb starfish sidekick, is the least offensive show to watch :)

meena said...

LOL Aspi, I love spongebob! the hero of that show for me is the super optimistic and sunny character of spongebob.

Anonymous said...

Aspi,

Have been reading your blogs for a long time now and immensely enjoy it, and this is the first time I am posting a comment.

Those who have been looking for good Telugu movie must watch Happy Days, a very refreshing movie!!

sidekick said...

aspi, sivaji without subtitles isn't as much fun so i'd give it a miss. chandramukhi in hindi maybe yr rajini option as amrita suggests, but u may be better off with older rajini films like muthu or arunachalam provided they're subtitled. sivaji dubbed into hindi shd be on DVD at some point, so maybe u can wait for that. alternatively if u're ever in boston let me know and we can have a sivaji party --- i'll translate :).

i know exactly where i have starring roles (at home and at work), but otherwise i proudly celebrate my sidekick status :P. girlie girl, i'm not at all touchy abt folks using the term sidekick as usually intended :).

sid's no hunk, but hunks in bollywood are a little boring now! i'll take seriously cute, with acting chops anyday.

i'm not at all surprised that the rajini magic is not all pervasive. he's seriously cheesy, formulaic and OTT --- and therein lies the fun, if u have an appreciation of high cheese ;)

spongebob seems like a happy, innocuous character, but there was heaps of controversy around him a while ago.

the BH and I will be seriously glued to the TV for the next 2 weeks as the march madness basketball tourney unfolds. there 's a pretty big austin contingent here --- longhorns anyone?

Joules said...

Yup, one right here! Although I am more of a football watcher.

Are you a longhorn, sidekick?

sidekick said...

Nope joules, I'm not.... but they figure pretty high on one of my brackets - i'm in 4 different pools and i diversified my risk!

Aspi said...

Man, I'm feeling really let down by the whole Sivaji subtitle thing. But if I'm in Boston I will take you up on the Sivaji party. Thanks for the offer!

I checked out the link to the Spongebob controversy. Adbhut - he's even cooler in my mind now.

Anon, welcome. Make up a name next time you comment.

Cinderella said...

thanks meena!
for such a happy movie isn't that a sad title?

I'm not a rajnikanth fan either.actually,i can't even stand him!
and whenever i say that, my friends give me an "Are you out of your mind?" kind of a look and continue praising him.
i never understood why people are soo crazy of him.
there was one article in the paper today abt him and his biography which strengthened my opinions abt not liking him.will post a link if i get it.to it's end its says "you may love him,you may hate him,but u just can't ignore him"!DUH!

Anu G,
talking of the effect of movies on kids,TZP can have a bad eefect too.
recently my aunt's 8 yr old bunked school and came back home walking.*scary*
and when asked why she did so she just answers,"Ishaan also did that!!!"
and i'm NOT KIDDING!!!i started feeling very gulity 'cos it was i who had taken her to the movie:(

Cinderella said...

and about telugu movies,nobody has seen 'Aithe'???

it's kinda cute..i like it a lot!

Anonymous said...

Aspi,

We saw (I assume) pirated DVD of Sivaji (well, saw, is over-kind - I turned it off after 20 minutes - I really dislike Rajni in movies - appprently he's a really nice person IRL) - that did have subtitles - they were as wierd as subtitles tend to be...I can go check with my local DVD rental store to see what brand that DVD is, if you're interested.

Amrita, I'm with you on the Sid non-hunk factor...I find him way too babyish looking to feel anything but a mild liking for him, though I do like his acting - he was convincing even in Boys (Tamil) which was otherwise rather unremarkable, actually, I think that is where I saw Genelia first.
I think Shahid Kapoor has the same quality about his looks - a VERY babyish looking face, though, in his case, his muscular body makes him look very mismatched!

Bitterlemons

Aspi said...

Bitterlemons, yes! If you can find the brand for me that would be great.

Amrita said...

bitterlemons - wordy mcword on the sid-shahid comparison. They're fine but i feel vaguely pedophile-ish about them. Not that that means anything about the fine women on this board of course :D I felt that way about Abbas back in the day and I was 15 or something when he hit and he was a big sex symbol wasnt he? God, now that annoying song is stuck in my head.

Joules - if you take a Rajni movie seriously then its likely to annoy you no end.:) When I first saw Chandramukhi, I expected something close to Manichitrathazhu and you should have seen my face! (btw watch manichitrathazhu if you can - it's pretty darn amazing and Shobhana rocks the pants off everybody else who's done that role) However, once you accept its campiness, it's all good. I do like him when he's being more serious though - Dalapathi isnt recent but I think that was the last movie of his that I saw that wasnt about the Rajni cult. I cant wait to see Robot with La Rai!

Amrita said...

enjoy:
http://davidchute.journalspace.com/?cmd=displaycomments&dcid=707&entryid=707

he also links to a site where you can buy subtitled Sivaji

Anonymous said...

Really an interesting conversation guys :) Aspi bhai, I suggest you to watch another feel good breezy love story called 'Ishq' (2012) - not the older Bollywood film with the same name.... You can post your views if you like it!

saahith said...

Really an interesting conversation guys :) Aspi bhai, I suggest you to watch another feel good breezy love story called 'Ishq' (2012) - not the older Bollywood film with the same name.... You can post your views if you like it!