Dookudu

Another Adventure Without Subtitles! Dookudu is the much awaited release for ‘Prince’ Mahesh Babu and we knew it would be huge. We arrived early for the 8.30pm show, which gave us the opportunity to watch the staff deal with the problem of getting the first show crowd out through the 700 or so people crowding into the small foyer. Once people emerged, the waiting audience clapped and cheered them like they were rockstars, and it was a very festive atmosphere. As one lady said  – why come to the cinema unless you’re going to have a good time?

It was about 10pm before the film finally started, not that anyone was complaining. There was plenty of cheering, accompanied by the sounds of tearing newspaper, as everyone got ready for Mahesh’s appearance.  There was discussion about whether there might be the odd flash of elbow (Yes there was, and even a glimpse of princely tummy) and just how many shirts can Mahesh Babu wear and still manage to fight? (There is apparently no limit to what Mahesh can do, or how many shirts he can wear.)

The film starts with politician Shankar Narayan (Prakash Raj) who is so well loved by the people that we know he’s heading for a gruesome end. Sure enough he’s attacked and left for dead by his rivals who include Kota Srinivasa Rao, Sayaji Shinde and various other Telugu film baddies. Somehow Shankar survives, in a coma and hidden in a secret location, and he finally comes round some years later to a changed world. His son Ajay (Mahesh) is a policeman rather than a politician as his father had planned, a number of his friends and colleagues are dead and the family have moved out of their old house. However the doctor instructs Ajay not to shock or distress his father in any way, for example by telling him the truth, as this will be bad.

Mahesh is introduced in full throttle action hero style, complete with title song. He takes on a room full of bad guys with nothing but his comic timing, guns and a whole lot of biffo.  Ajay is a super cop – invincible and fearless. He is also quite prepared to play outside the legal system if that is what it takes. After one such scene we did have a quick discussion about the omnipresent singlet under all the layers of shirts, and whether it was actually bulletproof. Whatever the reason, the bad guys consistently fail in their efforts to eliminate our hero, while he has no such issues dealing with them. Mahesh can convincingly portray a furious rage in a very low key acting style, and he is also more than capable of bantering dialogue with the comedy uncles. It’s a role tailor made for him, and while he wears his police uniform a little on the baggy side the character is a perfect fit.

Ajay does a deal with Brahmi who’s taken over their house and in the process convinces him that he’s taking part in a reality TV show which forms a large part of the comedy in the film. Ajay pretends to be a politician and keeps his life as a policeman secret from his father, while all the time plotting revenge on his fathers attackers. It’s no wonder Ajay is always on a short fuse – he must be exhausted from all the pretending. And the killing.

Ajay finds out through another investigation that mafia boss Nayak (Sonu Sood) was involved in the assault on Shankar. It looks at first as if Sonu is about to reprise his role in Ek Niranjan as the stylish and psychotic villain, but sadly his wardrobe fails to deliver. Despite the nice cravats and the random and occasional application of grey to his hair and moustache, Nayak is a subdued and fully clothed villain who just loves his little brother a bit too much.  We enjoyed the Sheila ki Jawani dance break and we think Sonu did too, but it was shortlived. Most of the posturing is left to his faithful sidekicks played by Ajay and Subbaraju. That’s fine with us since they’re both Cinema Chaat favourites and we did enjoy watching the satin shirted Subbaraju try to mime to his boss that Mahesh was really an undercover policeman. Oh for a pen when you need one…

Along the way, Ajay takes his gang of trusty colleagues to Turkey, apparently just so he can say ‘Operation Istanbul’ as there is no other discernible reason for the location. He meets Prashanthi (Samantha), a fashion designer and, unknown to him, daughter of his clownish boss (Nasser). While Ajay and Prashanthi have the usual confusions before falling in love there is no substance to Samantha’s role and she’s soon side lined. There is little chemistry between Samantha and Mahesh, maybe because they spend hardly any time together on screen. Samantha looks beautiful, and wears whatever the costume department have dreamed up. That seems to be her sole purpose in the film as she doesn’t actually do anything.

There was more comedy with M S Narayana and one very funny skit where he took off a number of films including Magadheera and Robot. A little comedy can go a long way, but here it was integrated into the main story and with Mahesh adding to the comedy dialogue there were parts that were very funny, even to us non-Telugu speakers. The rest of the audience were roaring with laughter throughout the speeches. Master Bharath put in an appearance too. Was he necessary? Probably not. And yes there were some unfortunate stereotypes masquerading as comedy, but for the most it was entertaining.

The supporting cast was very strong, if largely underutilised. Shafi, Tanikella Bharani and Sudha had little to do, and Satya Krishnan was given maybe one line of dialogue. It’s a big budget film when you can hire some of the best and then not do anything with them!

The action sequences are excellent, and it’s hard to go wrong with a good impaling. Sreenu Vaitla has come up with several ways of illustrating the ‘eye for an eye’ concept, all of them extremely gory. The camera work and special effects were great and added impact on top of the already impressive stunts. We enjoyed the flashes of lightning when Ajay was beating Nayak to a pulp, and the changes of tempo in the film speed that underpinned the dramatic tension.

The song picturisations were less successful, and the songs by S.S Thaman are not so memorable on their own. Mahesh can dance reasonably well so it was disappointing not to see more use being made of his skills, and we wondered who decided it was a good idea to give him Abhishek Bachchan’s choreography. Chulbuli Chulbuli was spectacular with plenty of feathers and some enthusiastic backing dancers, although clearly ‘inspired’ by Kilimanjaro. The nightclub song lacked a good item girl but made very good use of the male backing dancers, grinning madly in satin pants and ruffles,  and had a giant guitar shaped light-up floor so that was pleasing. We must also congratulate the set designer for the impressive selection of chandeliers and lamps, especially the chandelier in the hospital ward.

Dookudu has a charismatic hero in a strong if silly storyline, and it is a technically excellent film in the mass entertainment style. It might not be the greatest film ever made, but it was  really fun to watch, especially with the awesome Melbourne audience.

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29 thoughts on “Dookudu

  1. You almost make me want to watch it, I mean if you could laugh without subtitles…that is something I really enjoy in Telugu films, the effortless humour, local and pun-ny. Yes, technically I don’t doubt its excellence at all. Plus a co-crowd of 700 does help pep up the experience. Would be fun to watch a flick with you all. Sharing this with other Telugus :)

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    • Thanks :) It was such a fun experience. The Telugu movie crowd here are really enthusiastic and very friendly. There is always someone at half time checking what we understood, and when I have gone to see films on my own I am always asked where my friend is and to come and sit with some other group so I’m not alone. Its a very social and welcoming atmosphere. I think Telugu humour, unlike Telugu film ‘comedy’ which seems to be more exaggerated and almost vaudevillian, is really similar to the Australian sense of humour. A bit dry, often sarcastic, usually laconic and there is an appreciation of the ridiculous that seems quite familiar to me. So I like the humour that is integrated into the main story and performances even as I dread the Comedy Uncle brigade. If you’re ever in Melbourne, we’ll save you a seat :) Temple

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    • Hi kk,
      As Temple said, the crowd here is fantastic and really do help us out if we’re struggling
      Any long comedy dialogues are tricky, but with the facial expressions of Brahmi, Mahesh and the rest here. it was fairly easy to work out what they were getting at. Even if we didn’t fully understand. Besides which, with all the cheering, laughing and whistling I doubt anyone else could hear all of it either!
      Heather

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  2. Just got back! I enjoyed it, but I think subtitles will help explain more of the details about why/how he needed to keep dad that things hadn’t changed.

    I, too, was struck by all of the scenes of Mahesh in the white short-sleeved shirts–skin show. I beg to differ on two points:
    1) Mahesh’s IPS uniform seem plenty tight in the right places
    2) I actually prefer Sonu clothed, and he looked great in all of the suits

    At the interval, it occurred to me that the Telugu version of “Chekhov’s gun” is that if something pointy is introduced, someone will be impaled on it within the next 4 minutes.

    And the white (Swiss?) back-up dancers in two of the songs were funny. The girls didn’t seem to meet the “sexy” quotient, but they were so enthusiastic, that I totally loved them. And the two guys with in the mountain song seem to have borrowed their haircuts from A Flock of Seagulls.

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    • Hi LIz. Based on my extensive Filmi Medical education – I am so ready to play a doctor in any Indian film industry – I diagnose Prakash Dad’s medical condition as something along the lines of ‘bad news will make his head explode’ or ‘every time you go against his wishes he will fake a guilt inducing heart attack’. Either way it was best not to upset him.
      I was sitting next to jenni (snake fancier and Big Mahesh Fan) so we had a few asides regarding the apparent discomfort Mahesh felt at flaunting his elbows, as evidenced by his often fiddling with his sleeves. But jenni was very happy indeed with her cinema experience.
      The white dancers left me speechless and giggling for quite some time :)
      Temple

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    • Hi Liz,
      Wasn’t it fun? There were a number of pointy devices well utilised throughout the film :)
      I thought Sonu Sood was looking a bit thin at times – I do hope he’s eating properly and looking after himself. I prefer him when he’s a tad more psychotic and have to disagree somewhat on the clothing factor :P
      It might be a rule in Mahesh films though. I wasn’t too worried about his elbow exposure but I’m waiting for the day when one of the layers rips due to excessive layers of fabric causing stress on the outer garment just when he pulls out one of those big moves in a fight scene. It’s not natural to wear so many layers in India!
      Maybe that was the reason for the excursion to Turkey though… :D
      Heather

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  3. Agree about the Comedy Uncles! BIG NO NO! Glad you pointed it out….it works when it is effortless, seamless, real. Have a friend – alas Tamil – who lives in Sydney, so when I visit those parts, will definitely visit ‘mana vaLLu’ in Melbourne ie you, just so we can catch one together!

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  4. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed the chandelier in the hospital! :-)

    Prakash Raj suffered from “if you tell him all the things that changed while he was in a long coma, the shock might kill him” syndrome, just like the mom in that great German film “Goodbye Lenin!”

    And I agree with Liz re: Mahesh’s IPS uniform – hubba hubba!

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  5. I forgot to mention how much I enjoyed the light fixtures, having been tipped off ahead by Temple to look for them. The interiors were overall very nice, weren’t they? That apartment in Istanbul was so chic! Not just “movie rich” but also really classy.

    And also: agree with Liz and Larissa on the uniform. That was top tier khaki-sporting in my book.

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    • The interiors were excellent, but I did find the Istanbul apartment a bit too styled for my liking. Too much chrome and hot pink. The uniform was baggier than we have seen for some time – Think Sonu Sood in his painted-on uniform in BHTB, Salman ditto in Dabangg etc. So Mahesh maintains his modesty, and probably room for a few extra layers, even in police kit. Cheers, Temple

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  6. You know, I still can’t wrap my head around why this became such a huge hit (considering it’s a type of story that’s been done to death), but it is a very enjoyable movie, no doubt. Just not superhit material for me. Then again, it’s hard to judge without subs, people were laughing their heads off in our theatre, so that may be what sets it apart.

    But if there’s one reason why I approve of the hype around it, it’s Mahesh being so badass! :) I don’t really get all swoony and starry eyed about him, but he does pull off badassness so well sometimes, and this is one of those occasions. There is this aura around him that really makes the big screen experience worth your while. No regrets whatsoever for taking the time and the trip to see it! :)

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    • Hi Dolce :) I think it’s a bit of masala deprivation that made this so huge. There hasn’t been a good solid entertainer with a star cast for a while. Heather & I are in the minority who liked most of Badrinath, Shakti was a disappointment, and Mr Perfect was a lot like watching paint dry ;) So then along comes the reliable and badass Mahesh and this all-in brawl of a film and it just hit the spot with audiences. I prefer Khaleja to Dookudu but I did really enjoy it and I think it will stand up to repeated DVD viewing :) Temple

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    • Because its a proper ‘masala’ movie and usually Mahesh don’t do masala a lot, you know by our masala standards :P. So thats a mini-surprise. Add to that it’s just his second movie in last 4 years and his ‘fans’ are eagerly waiting for this one especially after the ”debacle” of Khaleja. Personally I liked khaleja better.

      I’m not sure if you know, the comic scenes spoofs/ridicules some shitty TV reality shows – which are kind of recent phenomena. So to get more why the audience are in splits, you have to watch them. I don’t recommend it though :p

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  7. Hello! I’m surprised and impressed by all your reviews. You girls are great :) Anyway I did really enjoy Dookudu. Though i thought the movie focused on story-telling more than the story itself! Whereas Oosaravelli had a pretty solid script. But both worked for me.

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    • Hi Uday – thanks :) I preferred Dookudu in terms of the pace of story telling, which I think was maintained a bit better so there was more dramatic tension. The story in Oosaravelli was more layered but the first half was all over the place and detracted from the momentum. But yes – both are good and have their own merits :) Cheers, Temple

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    • Hi Uday
      Glad you enjoyed reading the reviews :)
      We are a bit more limited beacuse we don’t understand the dialogue but I thought both films had pretty good stories and that both were enjoyable films. I’m looking forward to watching the DVD’s with English subtitles (maybe some time next decade though going by the usual release times)!!
      Heather

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      • Hi Uday,

        They are random monsters – mine is fairly spiderish too though :)

        The time taken for a movie to release on DVD seems to depend on how well it did at the box office. But some films – such as Vedam and Khaleja seem to be on permanent hold! I am hopeful that the release of Dookudu will mean a sooner rather than later release of Mahesh’s last film.
        Compared to HW and Hindi films, Telugu films do take longer to release and since that’s the only way we get to see them with subtitles and understand the dialogue we are often quite impatient! Plus we usually only have Telugu films showing for 4 days so we don’t even have the option of going to see them again. It can be quite frustrating!
        A late release is better than not at all though, which seems to be the case for a number of Tamil films :(
        Heather

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  8. I am watching the movie right now and it doesn’t make sense as i cant follow telugu, is there any site or link where i can get the complete english/hindi translation of this movie?

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    • Hi. We saw the film without subtitles too, and I am not aware of any sites that have translated the dialogues. I’m not sure if there is a Hindi dub around. Otherwise you will have the long wait for the DVD to look forward to, like the rest of us non-Telugu speakers :) Temple

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  9. One of the MS Narayana spoofs was from Yamadonga.

    Btw you should watch Yamaleela. Seriously funny movie. And Ali is the serious protagonist. And there’s Tanikella Bharani in an ‘aspiring to be a poet’ villain role.

    Btw havent you watched any Nagarjuna movies yet ?
    Hello Brother is a good start.

    And if you are looking for a fantasy movie where girls are magically empowered , then you should watch “Jambalakadi Pamba”. Seriously funny take on patriarchal societies.

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  10. The white short sleeves getup is the defacto uniform of many politicians in Andhra Pradesh. So basically he has fulfilled his father’ wish of seeing him as a politician.

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