Awe takes a crack at some familiar material, trying to deliver something new. And it is something new in the context of mainstream Telugu film, far from the usual mass hero driven shenanigans. But it reminded me of a couple of  Hollywood films, and Prasanth Varma is a bit heavy handed and clearly doesn’t want anyone to miss out on his cleverness. This was a film I wanted to love but I was left mildly underwhelmed.

SPOILER ALERT! I want to mention a couple of ideas the film plays with so I will have a few spoilers. But I will leave a few surprises.

Radha (Eesha Rebba) waits at a restaurant with her parents. They’re going to meet her partner, Krish, for the first time. Krish sounds like exactly what her parents wanted for Radha; a doctor, same caste, only child. But Krish is a woman (Nityha Menen). We jump into the story of Nala (Priyardarshi Pullikonda) a down on his luck man trying out for a job as a cook. He is clueless but luckily a wise talking fish (voiced by Nani) is there to help and a talking tree (voiced by Ravi Teja) is there because there weren’t enough comedy uncles in the cast. The episodes spool by. A precocious little girl Moksha (Kaitlyn) has a battle of magic and wits with a rude, overbearing magician (Murli Sharma). A doorman (Srinivas Avasarala) is building a time machine so he can go find his parents. But then the mysterious Parvathi (Devadarshini) arrives from the future to stop him. Mira (Regina Cassandra) is plotting a heist with her boyfriend, and the stress and the drugs she takes trigger interesting hallucinations or maybe something more sinister. In between the scene shifts to Kali (Kajal Aggarwal), a woman in obvious distress who is waiting for a sign.

The stories and their locations seem unrelated initially so the jumping around was a bit irritating as episodes terminate in a cliffhanger. As the film loops back to pick up the various stories the location and times merge into one quirky looking food court, and the characters start to be seen in each other’s worlds. The set design is kind of shoddy and obviously fake which also puzzled me at first. The morse code device looked like a prop from a low budget school play. But like Pizza, a lot of things make much more sense after a point. It’s a bit risky leaving things looking half baked until that clicks for the audience. If you miss all the hints it is spelled out by the end. The one dimensional characters also make more sense once you realise how they relate back to one particular person and how they colour the way the others are depicted.

Because the story is told in quite a gimmicky way I didn’t feel the actors were all able to rise above the material. Murli Sharma is trapped in a tedious story and not even his wild overacting could get him out of it. Priyadarshi didn’t really hit his stride until the latter part of his story. And no matter how I consider it, I can’t see how the fish and the tree fit into the overarching conceit of the film other than to get some more star names on the poster. Rohini was fun and still heartfelt as Radha’s mum, struggling not to let her disapproval break a vow of silence.. Regina Cassandra has presence and Mira is a challenging role in some respects, being an unlikeable and untrustworthy person. She seems like a misfit in the largely family friendly ensemble of characters but may be the most real.

Prasanth Varma was ambitious in his treatment of a film without a Hero. A bit of research on female psychology and gender would have helped enormously with the execution. Kajal was unusually sombre as Kali and did her best to show the confusion and pain of long term mental illness and emotional damage. Her character made one particular choice that didn’t ring true and a cursory Google would have told the writer to choose something else. But having a happy and openly lesbian couple is such a positive change in representation in Indian films, I can’t whinge too much. And good on Nithya Menen for giving Krish a go. She was cheeky, a bit irreverent, loved the ladies and all in all embraced her namesake as a role model. But Krish’s explanation of why Radha identified as gay was more driven by the plot than any nuanced analysis, overly simplistic but I think well intentioned. There is some truth in saying some women could reduce psychological issues if they spoke up about being assaulted and got help, but there was almost no consideration that the better solution is for men to stop raping women. Everything comes back to women having to save themselves.

It’s a good film but I wanted great. I saw the big reveal coming from a mile away, so I wanted more from the characterisation and the detail of living this life. See it and see what you think.


I liked this film the first time I saw it, but rewatching for this review it didn’t make quite the same impact.  However I still enjoyed the Mahesh/Amrita Rao combination and both actors do what they can in what’s essentially an over-blown and excessively dramatic story.  There isn’t too much comedy which makes it a little more appealing, and although it’s fairly dark and quite violent in parts, it’s all much too over the top to take seriously.  There is good chemistry between the lead pair and a suitably maniacal villain who refers to himself in the third person but be prepared for a lot of fake blood (even some that’s CGI), plenty of gunfights and a number of plots points that require major suspension of disbelief.

The film starts with some cute child actors who play the young Mahesh and Amrita.  Chhotu is an orphan who gets the fairly standard ‘Indian filmi orphan abuse’ from all and sundry while still managing to have ideals and a reasonable wardrobe.  One day while selling balloons, he gives one to a young girl leaving school even though she hasn’t got any money but promises to pay him the next day. Later, she gives him an umbrella which makes a big impression since it seems no-one has ever given Chhotu anything before.  After he stops their car and warns the young Amrita’s parents about a wash-out in the road ahead, they decide to take him home and begin to adopt him into their family.

They give the young boy the name Athidhi as he is their ‘guest’, but when the parents are gunned down by a psychotic thief one night, it’s Athidhi who gets the blame for the double murder.  Because of course that makes sense!

Athidhi is sentenced to 13 years in jail, and after his release devotes his time to finding the real killer. He’s also determined to find Amrita and make sure she’s happy but is hampered in both his endeavours by a major lack of information about both the identity of the murderer and the location of Amrita.  On the plus side he does have a picture of the killer since the thief left a wallet containing his photograph behind at the scene of the crime, but there are no other clues.  In between popping in and out of jail for his hooligan-like tendencies, beating up various thugs and trying to track down a killer, Athidhi manages to find time to run a coffee shop near the Red Fort, although he doesn’t seem to actually spend much time there.

Mahesh has a different look here with long floppy hair and seems to be permanently standing in the path of a wind machine dialled up to max.  Unless he’s in the rain that is, which does vastly improve the hair.  The overall effect is to make him even more baby-faced than usual and there are even a few dialogues which make reference to his innocent appearance.  But we know better.

And it doesn’t take long – the first fight scene comes after straight after Athidhi is released from jail again, and has Ganni (Subbaraju) and his gang as the recipients of some fairly typical Mahesh mayhem.  That leads straight into the first song, which seems to have been heavily inspired by Mad Max and features some fight style choreography which didn’t appeal at first but it’s grown on me.

Meanwhile the young Amrita has grown up to be Amrita Rao, studying art at college in Delhi and generally seems fairly content.  She’s polite and well-mannered on the outside, but inside her own mind is much feistier and has moments of fantasy where she imagines herself as a Matrix-style super-woman.  However her inner hero gets her into trouble when she takes on a gang of drug dealers who chase her into the path of an oncoming vehicle.  In the aftermath Athidhi performs some lifesaving mouth to mouth, although not quite in the approved St John’s Ambulance style, and as an afterthought he also beats up the drug dealers.  Amrita is pretty happy about the whole experience despite her near death and stalks Athidhi since after all we know that’s the way to show true love – right?

There’s a long and fairly pointless sequence with the dreadfully styled and characterised Danny Bhai (Ashish Vidyarthi) and eventually Athidhi finds out that Amrita is the girl he knew as a child.  But she’s already left for Hyderabad where she lives with the home minister (Nasser) and his family who are her aunt and uncle.  So the action moves to Hyderabad where Athidhi foils various plots to kill Amrita and her cousin Aishwarya (Baby Anni), including one by Danny Bhai that leads to Athidhi discovering the identity of the man who killed Amrita’s parents.  And as chance would have it, Hyderabad is being terrorised by this same killer, who now goes by the name of Khaizer and is running a child kidnapping ring.  To add more murk to the mix, Special Officer Ajit Shastri (Murli Sharma) has been brought in from Delhi to catch the gang and making sure he doesn’t succeed, Kota Srinivasa Rao does his usual corrupt politician thing.

So, will Amrita discover who Athdhi really is, will Athdhi discover who Khaizer really is, and will somebody finally cut Athidhi’s increasingly bouffy layered hair?!  It takes another couple of hours and quite a few twists and turns until we finally realise that no-one is ever going to successfully wield scissors anywhere near Mahesh. Oh, and there is finally resolution  to the rest of the plot too.

The story does have some good points but each is strung out for so long that the whole film drags.  It could easily have been cut by at least half an hour which would have made it a tighter and more thrilling movie.  The plot twists are good, although derivative, but again take far too long to reveal, and the final climax is marred by some bad CGI effects.  Although there is plenty of action it’s mostly gun fights which are less satisfying to watch.  The fight scenes, while often well-choreographed by Stun Shiva, are interrupted by too much slo-mo which really just reveals that no-one actually ever does hit anyone.  The lighting is really variable as sometimes it was excellent, for example at a number of scenes at the Red Fort, and yet at other times everyone appeared to have lizard skin and jaundice.  I’m sure the effect was meant to be very stylish but instead it just looked like the levels were completely wrong.  Brahmi, Sunil and Venu Madhav appear for some short comedy scenes but otherwise it’s fairly relentless death and destruction.

The music by Mani Sharma is catchy and I really like the soundtrack, but the picturisations don’t work very well and the songs appear oddly inserted into the narrative.  Malaika Arora pops up in a typically sleazy item song and the choreography generally seems under par for a Mahesh film – especially with someone like Amrita Rao who can dance. This song features an even more multilayered than usual Mahesh (plus the hair – which by this stage even features in the choreography), while someone in the costume department obviously had a grudge against Amrita.  It’s a good song though, and I enjoy watching the reactions of people in the background as they stop and stare.

While I think there is more here than just a film for Mahesh fans it’s probably best to watch with the remote to FF past some of the interminably long expositions by the villain. Generally performances are good but the film is let down by the mish-mash of a story and lack of editing.  I still give it 3 stars though, mainly for Mahesh and Amrita and for the bonus presence of both Subbaraju and Ajay  which always boosts any film for me!


Oosaravelli had it’s first showing on Thursday, so perhaps it wasn’t too surprising that the cinema was only a third full for the Friday night showing. We still had an appreciative audience in Melbourne with a few whistles for Tarak’s entrance and plenty of laughs at the comedy dialogue, but it was generally more subdued than we’ve become accustomed to in our regular adventures without subtitles.

Oosaravelli is basically a revenge movie. It takes a while to get to the explanation but the set up is entertaining and both Tarak and Tamanna make an impression. Tarak is Tony – he has his name helpfully tattooed on his neck just in case he ever forgets, or maybe it’s a concession to help those of us who don’t understand Telugu and are occasionally confused as to who is who by the fast paced dialogue. We start by learning the anatomy of the human body with an animation which I think is supposed to imply that Tony is a man with all the right parts to be the ultimate hero, or maybe it really was just a quick biology lesson while waiting for the hero’s entrance.

Tony is a man with a large collection of scarves and bandannas who seems to be a small time thug with big time ambition. He meets Niharika (Tamanna) in Kashmir where they have both been kidnapped by insurgents who seem determined to dispose of their hostages one by one. Tony helps Niharika escape but rather carelessly loses her as they run off into the forest. Later, back in Hyderabad, Tony has tracked Niharika down only to find that she is in love with a guy called Rakesh, who is less than impressed with Tony’s appearance.

Along the way Tony has various dealings with a gang of the usual suspects including Jayaprakash Reddy and Murli Sharma who are united in their truly dreadful fashion sense, although the pink stripped shirt with teddy bears was a favourite. This stylishness  doesn’t last though as Tony moulds them into ‘Men in Black’ after beating them up with a bag full of baseball bats – just as his father showed him. Back when he was alive that is. The gang is further intimidated when the ghost of Tony’s father turns up to join in a drinking session but after that, ghost dad is eerily silent until part of the explanation for events later on in the second half. We do get some bedazzled ninja backing dancers though as some compensation.

Tony continues his pursuit of Niharika by getting her evicted from her flat and then setting her up in his house. They decide to be ‘just friends’ although Niharika’s friend Chitra (Payal Ghosh) is sure this is a bad idea. Sure enough Tony finds out that Rakesh is a bad guy and is up-to-no-good. He’s in league with his uncle, don Azzu Bhai (Prakash Raj), and along with his father and friend is involved in some shady deals including arms and diamond smuggling. There is a brief glimpse of CinemaChaat favourite Ajay before he is sadly disposed of but otherwise every usual bad guy seems to turn up as a member of one gang or another.  For some reason one of Tony’s gang turns against him and delivers him up to Rakesh as the wannabe don who’s muscling in on their territory. Right about now is when Tony turns from a mildly affable joker to a totally psychotic killer who wipes out the entire gang in a matter of minutes with some impressive moves with a mallet. I was also suitably amazed by the hook which didn’t manage to tear through Tony’s shirt collar, but moments later was put to good use to impale one of the villains.

Just when we think – yay – crazy killer Tarak and wait for more blood to spill without really caring why, it all starts to make sense as there is a flashback revealing exactly who Niharika is and the reason for Tony’s involvement in the first place. But then it’s back to annihilation of all the bad guys although it’s not always clear if they are actually dead or not as a few people take a lot of killing. And death is not at all well diagnosed even by the medical professionals involved.

The highlight of the film is definitely Tamanna. She is excellent in all her different personas throughout the film – as the ditzy fashion designer and girlfriend, the harrowed victim and as the vengeful sister. She has real passion and belief in her character and it shows. A truly brilliant performance from her which also includes some excellent dance moves. It’s hard to compete with Tarak who is such an excellent dancer, but she manages to draw eyes away from him in a couple of songs.

Generally the soundtrack is enjoyable although Devi Sri Prasad has recycled one of his songs from the recent Dhanush starrer Venghai in Dandiya India. Tarak is good as the deranged killer Tony who has a soft spot for Niharika and seems to manage the switch between comedy and action well judging by the audience reaction. Payal Ghosh is also excellent as Niharika’s friend and it does seem as if the girls get the better dialogues and story-line this time round. A lot of the comedy centres on Tony’s gang of thugs and without understanding the dialogue I found this tended to drag. It was also slightly disappointing when ghost dad failed to make a reappearance after a promising beginning.

There are quite a few funny moments which probably aren’t supposed to be funny – such as Tony trying to hide behind a see through curtain, and where people who are dead manage come back to life to manage that one last important sentence. Or in the case of Tony’s dad, a 3 page monologue. It’s a fun film with plenty of action and blood. But even better it has a heroine who actually gets a proper story and gets to do something more than just look pretty. More of that please.