Vikramarkudu centres on ASP Vikram Singh Rathore (Ravi Teja) and his attempts to bring rural crimelord Bavuji and his evil brother Titla (Ajay) to justice. Needing to go into hiding, Vikram schemes to have his young daughter left with unknowing duplicate Athili Sathibabu (also Ravi Teja), a conman conned into caring for the child. The now familiar theme of justice being outside of the law is at the fore as even the police cannot rely on the legal system. There is suspense as the bad guys get closer and the two lookalikes cross paths in a series of action packed episodes. SS Rajamouli knows how to get a story up on screen and make it look amazing but he doesn’t have the best material to work with here. Vikramarkudu is a bit less satisfying than it should have been.
The major problem for me is the first section which sets up a very unconvincing love at first sight romance between Sathibabu and Neeru (Anushka Shetty). She acts giggly and flirty and he is sleazy and grabby. I struggle to believe Neeru would be smitten by Sathibabu. I can believe she might fall for him over time, but on sight? It wouldn’t have taken much to come up with a better story for her, but apparently no one could be bothered. Apart from the unfortunate giggling and the attempt to be a minx, Neeru was quite likeable but then she disappears until the end of the film. While it wasn’t much of an acting challenge at first (except maybe for having to gaze lustfully at Ravi Teja) Anushka did at least look like she was having fun in the songs. She got a bit more to work with later in the film, but the heroine was not pivotal to the story.
Ravi Teja is a good actor and created two very distinct characters while playing up their similarities so that while I was never confused, I could believe that the other characters might be. He gave the policeman a serious demeanour that was almost out of place in the mass madness.
The action scenes look great and Ravi Teja is up to the challenge of the scuffling, bruising fights. But most of the story is about Sathibabu whose notion of romance is slapstick sleaze.
I have a fear of Anil Kapoor’s back hair which dates from seeing Janbaaz. Oh, the rolling in the hay scene was so disturbing even without the straw woven into Anil’s furry pelt. I had post traumatic flashbacks when I saw Ravi get his shirt off with no warning.
Brahmanandam and Sathibabu live in a house they had furnished from various stolen items. It was neatly quirky, and might have been better suited to college aged guys but the set designers had fun. Ravi Teja has an upbeat energy which is very effective in the dances and he looks like he enjoys the dreaded comedy scenes. Their conman shtick was mildly amusing and I liked some of their schemes, but the heavy handed and repetitive dialogue especially by Brahmi became annoying. And I just don’t think sleazy puns and groping equates to humour.
There was more to Sathibabu than I initially expected. He was coerced into caring for a little girl (Baby Neha) who was convinced he was her father. I liked the developing affection between Sathibabu and the little girl. It didn’t seem that he was won over because she was cutesy but because he started to appreciate she was a little human being and had her own fears and likes that he could relate to. And from that initial moment of empathy came a protective affection that was endearing. It also meant that he was more invested in helping Vikram and sorting out the villains when the time came.
The bad guys play for cartoon effect but there was an edge of darker violence to some of these scenes. Bavuji is a stock baddie who leers and shouts and does a pretty good mad eye. Ajay as Titla is more striking and not just because of his height and aura of evil. He leads a gang who were possibly involved in the trial run for Magadheera costumes, and is armed with what looks like a kind of blunderbuss and a cross bow.
Ajay has the right amount of menace and silliness and he plays it to the hilt. Munna (Amit Kumar), Bavuji’s son, is flamboyantly bad but opts for a comedic approach which masks his calculating nastiness.
Their crimes include abducting women from the village for sex and killing anyone who stands up to them. Rajamouli doesn’t soften these scenes at all and, while it does make payback more cathartic, it is dark. Mind you, they still know how to party:
The supporting cast of good guys do well with the patchy script. Inspector Mahanti (Rajeev Kanakala), paralysed when they abduct his wife Pramila, is an example of what happens when good men stand by and do nothing. Yet again I found myself wondering about how a handful of psychos can dominate a population of hundreds. His wife and kids make a strong impression and I cheered and cheered in one of her scenes. Prakash Raj makes a very small appearance as a DCP but gets to use his misty eyed Gaze of Blossomimg Bromance to good effect. Ruthika is a tough policewoman who is handy in a fight and that is treated as kind of unremarkable which I liked. She just does her job. It didn’t stop the writers inflicting some ‘comedy’ on her though. She is drugged by Brahmi which causes a sound effect of whinnying like a horse and the terrible side effect of fancying Sathibabu. The only good thing I can say is that this song happens:
The MM Keeravani songs are fun and they provided a battlefield between the choreographers and the costume team. There is a pleasing commitment to metallic pants and that makes me happy.
The costumes are a highlight and Ravi Teja’s trousers often make a statement. Anushka seemed to get the more experimental designer but she didn’t seem too fazed. I suppose that is a benefit of knowing you could wear a hessian sack and still look stunning.
There is some excellent Only In Films Medicine I must mention. I bet you didn’t know that a temporary cure for an aneurysm is running cold water over your head.
I struggled with Vikramarkudu at first as I couldn’t see the story going anywhere and I didn’t care less about the lead pair. Once the revenge story started to dominate, the pace picked up and I found the film much more satisfying. There was some tension and characters started to become more fleshed out once the common enemy was in play. While the content and situations are unrealistic, the impact of the dramatic and action oriented scenes was surprisingly strong. By the end, as Ravi Teja made those baddies sorry they had ever been born, I cheered and laughed and occasionally winced. As for the resolution, well I question some of the logic but you know what they say; all’s well that ends well. 3 stars!
Didn’t picture you giving the film 3 stars initially, but I got your point at the end, I believe. It sounds like a lot of fun – nice review.
Hi Limette 🙂 I nearly pulled the plug but I kept hoping that a Rajamouli film would surely get better, and the story did pick up. If you are more tolerant of the comedy, you would like this a lot more than I did. It is entertaining once it gets going, there are some really good actors involved, and the visuals are great. Cheers, Temple
Sadly, “but the heroine was not pivotal to the story” could be the tagline for the whole Telugu film industry.
Dumare with it’s matching costumes and sets is one of my favorite song picturizations. At some point, I’m going to have to go down the rabbit hole and write a lengthy post about my strange fixation with Ravi Teja.
I don’t think there has to be equal screen time and importance given to both hero and heroine but if you’re going to waste my time on their romance for almost an hour, I do want there to be more substance. I think part of my problem with Neeru was more that I struggled to see Sathibabu as an instantly appealing romantic hero. Had he been played by someone more attractive on a shallow level, I might not have questioned the storyline as much. She was actually a fairly strong character, but the writers couldn’t be bothered. I think Anushka is one of the better actresses in any Indian film industry and it seemed a waste. The other women on the periphery of the film were more interesting but had lives to get on with and had no time for minxing about in silver pants.
I look forward to your analysis of ‘Ravi Teja: WHY?’ 😀
I saw the tamil remake of this called ‘Siruthai’… and overall it was entertaining.
Hi Meenkaran. Siruthai played here for the usual 4 days/4 shows but I couldn’t get to see it. I like the story and I was interested to see how it would pan out as a remake, and if the things I thought were a weakness were still there or not. I have the DVD on my list so will get to compare the two one day.
The story was probably the same, maybe the hero was less touchy-grabby. I enjoyed it because of Karthi, he was awesome. 🙂
This might be the least substantial comment I ever leave but I’ll risk it: do we need a new type of beverage warning that is specific to chest hair? GOOD GOD.
HAHAHAHA! How much more of a warning can there be than a mention of Anil Kapoor and back hair? Maybe I should have used the screencap of Anushka twirling her fingers in his chest hair. Actually, I didn’t screencap this very well at all, but my eyes simply refused to focus.
Raviteja was extremely good as ASP and the other thing i loved about this movie is the way director built up the emotion in flashback episode, though the whole concept of a guy ruling the entire area is illogical. On lighter note, i loved brahmi at one particular scene where he rises and shouts at Raviteja just after bringing the child home and hero asks her check the rest of the house. Overall, the movie was just average and the success was purely because of the commercial aspects. And one thing that struck me instantly was Insignia of Hero’s uniform.. The stars he had are of a Sr.SP, not of an ASP.. 🙂
He was good as the ASP (or as you spotted, the Sr. SP – it’s all in the details 😀 ) I have seen a couple of his more dramatic films and I like him much more in those roles. Brahmi really needs some new material but I liked that he had a character in this and was more involved in the drama instead of just being the random comedy guy. Cheers, Temple
“Yet again I found myself wondering about how a handful of psychos can dominate a population of hundreds.”
In the more backward regions of India the state and central government have little power as seen in the film by the literal cuckolding of the police. And hence tyrant landlords rule the roost. More often than not ,the local police are in cahoots. Bandits were idolized as they stood up to them and have a reputation of treating women with respect even as they may pilfer their jewelery
But those days are dying quickly . If not dead already. And of course the outrages are exagerrated for cinematic effect. Rajamoulis approach on villains is operatic i.e they just get your blood boiling and hence revel in their destruction. He said so many times