Cast: Varun Tej, Atharvaa, Pooja Hegde, Mrinalini, Satya, Brahmaji and others
Director: Harish Shankar
Director Harish Shankar’s last few films were somewhat controversial and so his latest Valmiki. One particular community objected to the title and went to court and, in a few places, the authorities stopped its release, because of the title. The producers were forced to change the title at the last minute to Gaddhalakonda Ganesh and released it. It’s a remake of Tamil hit film and dark comedy Jigarthanda.
An assistant director Abhilash (Atharvaa Murali) has an argument with his director on the sets, decides to come up with a good film himself and leaves. He wants to make a film on a real-life villain and when he searches, he finds a goon Ganesh (Varun Tej) in a village called Gaddhalakonda.
Abhilash lands in this village and starts observing Ganesh with the help of his local friend (Satya) to get real incidents on film. Soon, Ganesh finds Abhilash and his friend and asks why they are following him. Then Ganesh narrates his love story, told through flashback, and explains how he turned into a goon and allows Abhi to make a film on him, but on one condition. Ganesh himself wants to play the lead actor in this film. The film seeti maar starts and Abhilash’s wish come true and what happened to Ganesh after this film releases is the crux of the story.
Shankar earlier did a remake Gabbar Singh based on the Hindi hit film Dabangg. Like in the earlier film, here too, Shankar takes the original plot and makes a few changes. He chooses Varun Tej to play Bobby Simha’s role, which is a negative one. For the Telugu version, he enlarges that role and also adds some elements to his flashback. Luckily, he didn’t spoil the original but actually made it more interesting.
Shankar gives his own treatment for the Telugu version with his kind of one-line dialogues, some of which are very thought-provoking. The original Tamil film is more raw but when it comes to the Telugu, Harish puts in some entertainment. The ‘Sagara Sangamam’ episode is hilarious.
In between, the story loses track but quickly regains momentum with some interesting episodes like the flashback and the final scenes. The Pooja Hegde and Varun Tej flashback is for mass appeal and the song Elluvache Godaramma is recreated well. The climax is emotional and also added some sentiment. The film unfolds in the present time but it has the look of a period drama because of the ambience and the way the characters portrayed.
When it comes to performances, it is completely a Varun Tej show all the way. This is definitely his best till now and the actor gives a commendable performance. It clearly shows that he worked hard and it pays on the screen. The dialogue delivery, diction, body language and the way he carries his role throughout the film is simply superb. He plays Gaddhalakonda Ganesh and actually lives it. Atharvaa is cute and did a decent job but his dubbing is not proper. Pooja Hegde brings some life with her presence and her chemistry with Varun is good. Brahmaji’s cameo he provides a few laughs and gives relief. He plays as an acting instructor. Mrunalini is the other female lead and she is aptly cast.
The music is by Mickey J. Mayer who has provided an excellent background score and also a few catchy songs. This is a different film for him as music director. Ayanka Bose is the cinematographer and he captured beautiful visuals.
Though there are a few loopholes, Gaddhalakonda Ganesh is a different film and watchable.