Cast: Allu Arjun, Pooja Hegde, Murali Sharma, Jayaram, Tabu, Sachin Khedekar and others
Director: Trivikram Srinivas
Trivikram Srinivas is one of the best directors/writers in Telugu cinema today. His narration, writing and direction style usually generates curiosity among audiences. Having worked with many A-listers in the industry, he directs Allu Arjun for the third time in Ala Vaikuntapuramulo, which hit screens on January 12. The songs of this film, which has Pooja Hegde as the female lead, have already created records online, sadly adding to expectations the film may not have been able to live up to.
Valmiki (Murali Sharma) is a middle-class family man who works as a clerk in a company owned by Ramachandra (Jayaram). His wife (Rohini) and Ramachandra’s wife (Tabu) are in the same hospital for their deliveries. In a moment of madness, Valmiki swaps the babies, wishing for his son a better life in the rich man’s home. Now, the actual rich kid, Bantu (played by Allu Arjun), is raised by Valmiki as a middle class boy and his son Raju (played by Sushanth) grows up as a rich kid. Valmiki shares this truth with a nurse (played by Eswari Rao), who after swapping the babies, however, falls off the hospital’s top floor and goes into coma. Bantu works in a tourism company and falls in love with his boss (Pooja Hegde). One fine day, Bantu realises he’s actually Ramachandra’s son. Meanwhile, Ramachandra’s family faces some trouble, and Bantu steps into their home without informing them. How he rescues the family and how the truth reveals form the crux of the story.
The highs and lows
Ala Vaikuntapuramulo is the famous line from Pothan’s mythological story Gajendra Mokshanam. In Gajendra Mokshanam, Lord Vishnu comes down to save Gajendra, the elephant king from Makaram, a crocodile. Similarly, in the film, Ramahandra’s house is called ‘Ala Vaikuntapuram Lo’ into which Bantu comes to rescue the family. And here’s where the novelty of Ala Vaikuntapuramulo ends!
Trivikram has nothing new to show in the film. Swapping infants is a tried-and-tested idea in Telugu cinema, even though this one has Trivikram’s storytelling all over it. With the truth unravelling in the beginning, the film is all but predictable. In the first half, Trivikram shows Valmiki always cursing his son who he knows is not his. Then, Trivikram establishes the romance between Bantu and Pooja Hegde by continuously showing her legs. Even after the protagonist falls for Pooja (or her legs), it’s as if the director’s obsession with her legs continues — she’s mostly in skimpy clothes throughout the film.
The actual story begins in the second half when Allu Arjun understands about his real parentage. This is where Trivikram’s writing and storytelling skills shine. In fact, it’s the last twenty minutes of the film that’s packed with excellence.
The performance meters
When it comes to performances, it’s all about Allu Arjun, especially in the second half. This film is definitely a good one for him performance-wise. Pooja Hegde looks glamorous and despite her limited role, she’s commendable. Despite Sushath playing a key role of the rich kid, he hasn’t really got much mileage here, although Murali Sharma has found a meaty role after long time and he’s justified it. Sachin Khedekar too has a lengthy role, and though Jayaram and Tabu show up only in the climax, they both shine. Harshavardhan’s role is minimal, and Sunil is, compelled. Samuthirakani plays the villain, but we wish he didn’t try out that Srikakulam dialect.
Thaman’s music’s fantastic; the songs have all been chartbusters! But despite the hype and record-breaking performance online, Samajavaragamana has no onscreen appeal. The background music is also excellent. P.S. Vinod’s cinematography is great, and art director A.S. Prakash’s work needs mentioning.
Finally, Ala Vaikuntapuramulo is a regular, though classy, Trivikram-film. Hard-core Trivikram fans may be disappointed, although Allu Arjun fan have much to lap up here....