Aug 1, 2008

Telugu Movie KATHANAYAKUDU Review

Cast: Rajni Kanth, Jagapathi Babu, Meena, Nayanatara, Prabhu, Suneel, Brahmanandam, Dharmavarapu Subramanyam, MS Narayana, Kondavalasa, Duvvasi Mohan and Others.
Action: Dalapathi Dinesh.
Story: Srinivasan.
Dialogues: Marudhuri Raja.
Cinematography: Arvind Krishna.
Editing: Saravana.
Art: Thota Tharani.
Lyrics: Vennelakanti.
Music: GV Prakash Kumar.
Screenplay & Direction : P.Vasu
Producer(s): C. Aswani Dutt-Vijay Kumar.
Banner: Vyjayanthi Movies.
Release Date: 1st August, 2008.

It's the modern take on the Krishna-Sudama story, with an obvious twist. Kuchelan in Tamil and Katha Nayakudu in Telugu starring Rajnikanth and Jagapathi Babu is an old fable with new elements. It could have been a simple and unsophisticated storyline with a touching theme of friendship. But what it ends up being is raw, loud and missing all the little make-break moments to substitute unnecessary skin show or sentiment that doesn't do anything. Even the feeble attempts at humor go amiss.

Jagapathi Babu and Meena Plot Balakrishna a.k.a. Balu has a rickety little saloon with a chair that's about to break and no prospects. His competitor across the road has cut-throat business techniques, and Balu's business is bad. The sleepy village has a surprise-super star Ashok Kumar's movie is going to be shot there, with top level security and the whole village thirsty for a glimpse of the icon. Balu's wife reveals that he and the star were classmates in school and college, but the mild-mannered barber cannot manage to contact the star and the village and his own children lose faith in him. Will the star recognize him after all these years or is Balu lying-is what the rest of the plot deals with.

Story, Screenplay and Direction The original Malayalam version didn't have the aura of Rajnikanth dominating it's every frame. It cannot be compared to this one. At this point, it's difficult for him to be just an actor and not let his stardom come in the way. So a lot of the dialogues seem to be written purely for him, directed at his fan base and written for the applause and adoration of the first day crowds. So to tell a simple story with a huge star in it's midst playing almost himself…doesn't work.

But Rajnikanth and Jagapathi Babu's tracks run well. It's the other characters that come across as irksome. Sunil and his wife's track is just so 1980s and you wonder if they've borrowed from some Malayalam 18 and above movie when it starts off. Sunil is obnoxiously loud, not just the actor, but the character too lacks realness. Dharmavarapu's character is more believable that way, the rich guy of the village thinking he'll get to make a movie soon. Then the school's management in-charge who throws his attitude in front of the star. These two characters stand out.

The shooting absolutely lacks believability, and the makers look in to pull off some extra gags. So you have all those hit movies of Rajni, only this time its part 2. But it could have been consistent, like just stick to one movie and not 2 or 3 of them. The editing is patchy.

Rajni Kanth Performances It's not just about style for Rajni this time. He cries, he complains, he laughs-not the Shivaji-bookish laugh, a real laugh for now. That way it's refreshing, and though his Chandramukhi part 2 and Narasimha part 2 are passable in the humor department, it just goes to show that the actor can still laugh at his histrionics and doesn't take himself too seriously. Jagapathi Babu is a severely underrated actor who stands his own in a movie dominated by Rajni's multi-lingual presence. Meena is suitable as his wife; his kids do a good job. Sunil is LOUD. Nayanatara sizzles in one song. The whole village crowd, even the seasoned actors, perform like they are in the middle of a local stage play.

Song and Dance The rain song with Nayanatara, Rajni's intro song ‘Cinema cinema' and the happy family songs are good. Background is not imposing.

Last Word This movie had all the potential to be beautiful and tell a story that one always knew in a new way. Perfect casting, mediocre writing, passable direction. Let's hope for SRK's sake his Billoo Barber turns out to be a more entertaining watch.