Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu

seethamma-vakitlo-sirimalle-chettu-poster

Set mostly in a beautiful rural location, and with Mahesh Babu and Venkatesh starring as brothers, this could have been a great feelgood movie. Writer/director Srikanth Addala has crafted a picturesque and sentimental family oriented film. Unfortunately he neglected to provide anything by way of drama and the brothers are unlikeable. It was very disappointing to see so much potential go to waste.

It’s a charming film to look at.  I loved the heroes’ introduction; everything from the composition of shots to the clever editing and the choreography that featured Venkatesh and some great random street dancing was so appealing. Unfortunately it was downhill from there as Venkatesh and Mahesh play entitled manchildren who exist at the centre of their own and all other universes.

Manchild 1 (Venkatesh) is fired from his job by a surly Kota Srinivasa Rao. It seemed that M1 was sacked because he was late or lazy or just rude and off he went in a cloud of indignation. Manchild 2 (Mahesh) was irresistible to women (The Mahesh Fan agrees) and constantly told these poor girls why they were not good enough for the likes of him. M2 is sarcastic, cranky, often funny, but the humour is mean-spirited in tone. M2 does tell M1 he needs to improve his attitude but neither man really thinks the problem is with them, it is always someone else.

Prakash Raj is introduced wandering around the village smiling benignly upon all he sees. He is a kind of a ‘simple man is a holy man’, and is totally absent from, and oblivious to, his sons’ lives. Prakash Raj phones it in, and added nothing to the film. Again – what a waste!

Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu Mahesh and Venkatesh

The family of mother, grandmother, sister and cousin devote themselves to running the household while M1 and M2 devote themselves to self-pity and lounging around until the next meal. Seeta (the cousin, played by Anjali) has her eye on M1 but he is oblivious because of course she should always be there to wait on him hand and foot. The boys’ sister Radha is married to a relative of M1’s former boss who looks down on Prakash Raj as a bit of a country bumpkin or something. There are tensions between the families, but a little compromise or swallowing of over-inflated pride by the boys could easily have de-escalated all that. There is a romance thread for M2 with Geeta (Samantha), also related to the ‘enemy’ family. Samantha got a really cute introduction song and dance and then all she had to do was make puppy eyes at M2 for the rest of the film. M1 and M2 fall out over Samantha as M1 is peeved at his little brother canoodling with the ‘enemy’. Much emo brooding ensues – a whole song montage worth – and neither considers compromise or conversation. They’d rather feel hard done by and betrayed.

I thought the first hour or so was just establishing the scene and people, and there would be some plot or character development. No. It is all ‘slice of life’ and watching these two sooky boys. In what is supposed to be the dramatic high point, things are eventually patched up but really – who cares? Two brats decide they’re on speaking terms again. Hurrah.

seethamma-vakitlo-sirimalle-chettu-not sulking

I really like both Mahesh and Venkatesh and they are very accomplished actors. I liked watching them together (especially when they weren’t sulking) and I enjoyed some of their scenes at home with the family. Mahesh fans will enjoy the occasional wardrobe malfunction that resulted when his modesty singlet rode up exposing the princely tummy.

Had there been a more engaging or credible story I might have been more sympathetic. The interview panel at GOOGLE asked M2 why he couldn’t smile from the heart – so he had a hissy fit and walked out. Who thinks that was a good idea? And who believes that is a legitimate interview question? M2 had a nice relationship with his grandmother, very playful and annoying, but loving. Why not set that conversation with his gran, not via product placement? M1 was very half-hearted in getting a new job. Why not show him as someone who lost their job through redundancy or something so we could empathise with his bitterness, rather than him just being a temperamental diva? Why not show him having to learn and grow like a real person? Why not show a threat to the family home or something that might compel the boys to get over themselves? Anything! In an action mass type film it doesn’t matter as much whether the hero is likeable because he exists to deliver victory and he does what it takes to win. In a character piece where there is no mitigating threat or transformative incident, there is nothing to dilute the boorishness.

Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu AnjaliSeethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu Samantha

The supporting actresses (including Jayasudha as the long suffering Ma) were good, all of them creating distinct characters and often funny. I would have liked to see more of them.

I liked the songs (by Mickey J Meyer) but in a film with little plot, more spectacle could have stopped me checking my watch. They could have included more big set pieces instead of wasting a good cast on montage after montage. Venkatesh and Anjali got the better of the duets in terms of choreography while Mahesh and Samantha scored the fancy foreign location. I suppose that (and splitting the heroic rescue 50/50) is how you keep two big name heroes happy.

The audience lapped it all up. The ladies seemed to laugh more at the family scenes, while the boys clearly thought these guys were legends. Normally after such a dialogue heavy film I would be keen to get the DVD and see what I missed. But I don’t think there is anything to gain from the aggravation of knowing exactly how objectionable they were. Oh this could have been so much better. Watch the songs and enjoy the pretty, but avoid the tedious glorification of the manchild!

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21 thoughts on “Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu

    • I saw this with The Mahesh Fan who loves him unconditionally and she struggled with the M1 and M2 behaviour too. Mahesh was cranky and sarcastic in Khaleja but not really seriously mean, and even in Businessman he had his reasons. But M2 just seemed to be a conceited git. Oh well. Not every film can be to my liking!

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      • Well, I meant mostly his ‘irresistibilness’ in latest movies:P I understand the hero usually is handsome, brave ect, but there are some limits and ‘odes to his beauty’ is too much.

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      • I have to admit to some giggling at the overdose of soft-focus bromance shots :) Mahesh wore simple clothes (singlet and shirt with jeans) for this character so I didn’t get to play count the layers as much as usual. One shirt was an unfortunate shade of pink that exactly matched his ears, creating an ear amplification optical illusion. But generally he was styled well and the camera loved him so his hardcore fans would be happy with that.

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  1. AAHH! I am not alone in my opinion of this film! Its refreshing to know that they are still sane people amongst us who can see beyond the so-called family entertainment film to really analyze the crap that the film really is…

    noone can stop this film from being a super-hit and collect millions and break records, but that wont change the fact that this is probably one of the worse films ever!

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    • Hi Aditya – I don’t think this is close to being the worst film ever (Forces of Nature starring Ben Affleck and Sandra Bullock holds that title, with Tees Maar Khan and Deshdrohi tied for second place) but it could have been a lot better :) Thanks for stopping by. Temple

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  2. Thanks Temple!
    I ‘ve been reading some of samantha’s dialogues mocked on twitter. This finally puts all the hype to rest. I won’t bother about going to theater now.
    Too bad about lost potential.

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    • Hi Violet. Well, you know I will have missed a lot due to the language barrier. Samantha and Mahesh conduct a secret romance mostly over the phone that generally had her squeaking pathetically as he cut the call or said something a bit inappropriate (judging by the laughter) and she didn’t get a lot to work with. I really did like Venkatesh and Mahesh’s acting, despite the material. I’ve been told by some fanboys that as I’m non-Indian I have no family values (no other culture has family values it seems!) and do not understand the proper place of women in a family. Leaving aside my lack of appropriate values, I still don’t think enough happens in terms of drama and character development to justify some outcomes. I’ll be interested to hear what you think if you do catch this on DVD. Cheers, Temple

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      • I hope u r kind enough to excuse the unruly comments of some of my fellow countrymen(“fanboys”) who seem to be rather narrow minded. I agree with you regarding the character development part; it could have been better. But I guess the director has taken the approach of keeping it more “life-like” (as opposed to the larger than life characters we are used to seeing in tollywood, with their overnight transformation).

        I feel that this movie would be very hard for outsiders to relate to (more like an inside joke), but the characters (including the protagonists’) are very close to home and realistic to people who have been brought up in similar environments. The characters were so realistic that I could myself connect to 5 or 6 of them immediately.

        The director has taken an unconventional route and made a movie devoid of most of the usual commercial elements. Also every important member of the cast and crew (especially the producer and the heroes) were taking quite a risk through this film. Most of the dialogue has been written using colloquial terms that getting a true translation is next to impossible without losing the flavour.

        I’d rather think of the ending patch up as a realisation rather than a simple reconciliation, which gives it a holistic feeling.

        PS: The rating body has made no cuts to the film which could be called an achievement in itself, keeping in mind the kind of violence that is usually seen in tollywood these days.

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      • Hi Swaroop.

        I don’t object to keeping things realistic, but what I meant by lacking drama was that there are few (almost no) incidents that cause the plot to gain momentum in any direction, or create a change within the story. So I’m not asking for machete dismemberments and explosions, just a credible catalyst for change or tension. Those moments that do take place are sometimes clumsily done (e.g. the Google interview, the temple stampede). I don’t think the ‘you have to be raised in a particular way to get this film’ really explains the the lack of much happening. Although if you have developed a greater cultural tolerance for idle boys ruling the roost while women do the dishes, some of the scenes would certainly be far less annoying :)

        As far as getting the approval of the ratings body – I think that is more an endorsement of the blandness of this film, especially considering recent instances of banning and forcing cuts post release!

        Oh – and I am pretty sure the duet I meant was filmed abroad as it seemed to combine European Communist architecture with nice coastal scenery.

        Sorry Swaroop. I’m being very disagreeable!

        Cheers,

        Temple

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  3. Almost forgot to mention: I believe that the duet shot on Mahesh babu and Samantha is set in India, but not in some foreign location.

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  4. I feel it is more about accepting the possibility of existence of certain characters rather than expecting them to be acting in a certain pattern, which could as well be stereotypical.

    I also feel that the culture one grows up in plays a vital part in his perspective of things as they are. So an outsider won’t be able to relate to that perspective as he/ she does is what I wanted to convey. I don’t condone the characters for idling the time away while the women do all the work. But accepting them for who they are in the story made the movie tolerable for me.

    I agree to ur opinion that the scenes u mentioned have been done a little clumsily but since the movie is set a little close to my home, I could ignore them. :)

    BTW, the duet was shot in India. I’ve just confirmed it through wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seethamma_Vakitlo_Sirimalle_Chettu). You’ll find it in the last two lines of the “filming” section.

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    • Thanks Swaroop – I’ll have to try and find a clip to remind myself why I thought Europe. I’m travelling at present and relying on the kindness of free cafe wifi so that will have to wait til I get home or find some decent download speeds! I think we may well continue the ‘are they heroes or do they deserve a kick up the backside?’ argument over many films to come … Cheers :) Temple

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    • With all due respect my friend Swaroop, I have been bought up in one of those “natural” and “typical” telugu environments that you are talking about. I have to tell you that I found this film to be boring, devoid of plot, emotion and substance. It was poorly written, directed and acted. If you wish to understand sibling relationship/chemistry, might I suggest you take a look at:

      Gundemma Katha-A timeless classic Im pretty sure you might have seen some time.

      However, since you found this film pleasing enough to publicly defend it on a public forum, let it be :) you have earned your right to like a film of your tastes. good day :)

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  5. Hi Temple

    Nice to read your review. I think you got few things wrong. Let me start with one of your mentions, why on the earth would an interviewer ask Mahesh to laugh, well if you watch closely, Mahesh never smiles wholeheartedly, he is always sarcastic and escapes out of the situation with a sarcastic face and a witty smile (more or less a fake smile, which we often use to greet people :D). When the interviewer asks him to give a genuine smile, he actually does give a genuine smile which the interviewer doesn’t agree to. That is the reason he angrily responds to the interviewer saying “You have to laugh when you want to and you have to cry when you are hurt. I can’t laugh for your money (this is what he has been doing so for years, faking a smile just to pass through the situation)”.

    The song on Mahesh-Samantha was shot in Pune, India.

    To understand the plot/scenes of the movie, you should know how a normal telugu person would be, I wouldn’t blame you for that.

    // while M1 and M2 devote themselves to self-pity and lounging around until the next meal

    In India every child is dependent on his/her parents until he finds a job, some people get it right after the education, some people takes time. Its not uncommon for anyone to depend on his parents for a meal.

    As some one already stated here, no role in this movie is larger than life, all the characters we see in the movie are typical telugu people we meet/met for the past 25 years. The movie is realistically dramatic. It is very hard to translate the flavor of the dialogues, the flavor/humor/seriousness would be lost when translated.

    The director had a thin thread to make a movie. I do not think he treated any scene in a cinematic way, he chose to show what actually happens in a normal telugu home.

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    • Hi Giridhar – Thanks for taking the time to comment. Sorry my reply has taken so long – I’ve been travelling and haven’t been online much. I think I’ve discussed a lot of the points you raise in previous comments with Swaroop so I won’t rehash all that here. I’m glad you guys both found so much more to like about this film than I did :) It is visually lovely and I did enjoy a lot of the supporting characters and the way they interacted. Cheers, Temple

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  6. Dear Temple,
    I finally got around to watching this. And I liked it! Strangely, living with that kind of drama is very vexing but watching it brought back nostalgia and all around feel-goodness. :)

    I want to come back and comment because this movie needs a particular background to get what Prakash Raj, Venkatesh and Mahesh Babu are getting at. The primary conceit in the movie is that “caring about people” is more important than “earning money”. Prakash Raj is epitome of caring about people and everyone in the small town feel they owe something or other to his kindness.

    If Venkatesh and Mahesh came across immature, they are supposed to be. They are immature versions of Prakash Raj. While Venkatesh cares about everyone in his family, whether he personally likes or loves them or not, his way of showing it is by being “protective”. That’s why he beats up policeman who calls his father in insulting way. That’s why he is mad at cousins/uncles of Sita who abandoned her with Prakash Raj’s family when she became orphan.

    Venkatesh’s family had no legal or cultural obligation to take care of Sita while her Uncle’s family does. That is again contrast with “enemy” family who care about status that comes with career and money, and won’t care for “orphan” as a person who has feelings and need caring and love.

    Mahesh cares about only people he loves. That’s why he doesn’t add Sita to the census-taking person. In his mind, Sita is not a part of his family. While Venkatesh gets protective and angry when his family is insulted, Mahesh wants to pretend that he doesn’t care. He understands that world cares for money and willing to fake it (with fake smile at interview scene) to get by in the world. But, when push comes to shove, he doesn’t want to put money above his principles (i.e., caring for people he loves).

    In the end, the lesson is for them to let go thinking about world and its demands. Instead, be at peace with their caring and responsible natures, and forgive those whose views aren’t in line with theirs. Behind all this, one has to also look at the pressure of both macho culture and globalization standard (their comment in train station that nobody will look at that guy if he didn’t have that job) that career defines a person, instead of the principles and behaviour of that person.

    Apart from all these, I loved the way, JayaSudha says “pillaliddaru vachchesara?” (Are both kids here?) instead of saying “boys” or “guys” or anything. For her, they are still “kids”. This is the attitude of my grand mother, my aunts and my own mother. For them, no matter how old we are, we are still referred as “kids”.

    Another point of looking at it is, the guys are considered mature and responsible when they are married. So, when it is mentioned that Venkatesh left job again, their maid suggests to get him married so he will be responsible. Here, the underlying understanding is that he will bear any insults and grow up to swallow his pride when he becomes responsible to taking of his wife and children. It is established that he is that kind of guy when he always offers some money to Mahesh whenever he leaves in train and always making sure he gets on safely.

    This movie is kind of like 50s Cary Grant movie where the way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach (Sita is always taking care of Venkatesh’s meals). It is kind of attitude about what are important principles of life until about 10-15 years ago. It is great to be guy in that stage but sucks to be a gal who wants more than getting married and taking care of house. So, all the women in Sita’s place who wanted a career more will see that this movie sucks and glorifies that house-wife attitude for women. But, compared to misogyny in standard Telugu movies, this movie is a highlight in terms of how the rest of the women are treated, respected, and loved (even Samantha is loved by her father).

    I recommend you give it a try with subtitles.
    Best,
    Violet

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    • Hi Violet

      Well, I am really pleased you enjoyed it, and thanks for coming back with such a detailed analysis :) I certainly got that Prakash Raj’s character was held up as the epitome of goodness, but I did not connect with him at all and he seemed absent from his family’s life too. I guess it comes down to whether you identify with these people and does that then give you the tolerance needed to go on the film journey with them. I could certainly identify the types portrayed but I felt little to no empathy with most of them when it mattered. Jenni (who I saw it with) wanted see it again with subs so I’ll let her know to read your notes. I’m not sure language was the major barrier as this film just seemed to push all the wrong buttons for me. Having your endorsement does make me a bit less averse to seeing it again but I might need to be trapped for days with nothing else to watch before I actually try. Or drunk. Or both :)

      Thanks for explaining the way JayaSudha addresses the younger generations – that IS very familiar. I don’t know why but despite rolling towards middle age there is something a little funny and reassuring about being told to go sit with the rest of the ‘kids’ at a family function.

      Cheers

      Temple

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      • Hi Temple,

        Yeah, I definitely agree you need to know someone personally like them to appreciate Prakash Raj. My grand father was that kind of person. He was almost never around, he didn’t leave much behind but all his kids love him. He was busy through out his life doing things for others. (This especially resonated with me when new wedding party asks for directions to Prakash Raj’s house and many are willing to direct them. Once we were lost driving to a remote farming land, and we asked for “land of [my grand father's name]” and people were willing to bicycle far from the village to show us. At that time my grand father has passed away for almost 5 years)

        It is really strange to me how my mom and her siblings love their father so much. But they say, he was always always kind to them. No matter what their problem is, he would listen. So, the attitude is “being kind” is more important than work ethic, career, or any of the things that matter in developing individuality.

        It is a good movie for cultural studies :)

        Best,
        Violet

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  7. I would like to declare that being mean to ones sisters or relatives is in no way a reflection of culture. People who declare this are basically saying that all Telugu guys are sexist.
    This movie was replete with examples of inconsiderate behaviour on the parts of the two manchildren (!). There is a scene where Seetha and the grandmother are on the swing, watching TV, and as soon as the boys come, they feel like they can just usurp them from their positions (and take their snacks as well), disregarding completely the age of the grandmother!! In another segment, Venkatesh grabs the glass of water presented to Seetha who has hiccups, looks at her, and gulps down the water anyway! What the hell? There are many more examples of unimaginably rude and selfish behaviour, which the women contribute to by acquiesing and not reprimanding. Can anyone who defends this movie justify these actions? What compleat asses!

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    • Hi Saffron. As you know, I’m not a fan of this film at all :) While I disagree with a lot of the positives I’ve read, I think Violet in Twilight does make some excellent points. Sometimes the nostalgia for your own upbringing can make characters easier to tolerate and to relate to. I didn’t hate everything about the film, but I do think it was a waste of excellent actors. And despite Violet’s encouragement, I haven’t bothered to watch it again! Cheers, Temple

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