Pilla Nuvvu Leni Jeevitham

Pilla Nuvvu Leni Jeevitham

Pilla Nuvvu Leni Jeevitham is the début film for Sai Dharam Tej and as to be expected for the launch of Tollywood’s latest hero, it’s a mass action adventure with plenty of comedy and a smidgeon of romance. Although there is a fine and distinguished support cast, the camera focuses mainly on the latest member of the mega family to make an appearance on the big screen, and Sai Dharam Tej succeeds in holding attention centre stage for the 2 hours and 12 minutes screen time.  Chiru’s nephew has inherited the mega-family dancing genes and more than a little of his uncle’s charisma, although for most of the film he reminds me of a Labrador puppy, boisterous, exuberant, and just needing a little bit more time to grow into his personality. It’s not an outstanding movie, but it’s perfectly fine for a debut, and director A.S. Ravi Kumar Chowdary delivers an entertaining hero-centric story that does have a few unexpected twists along the way.

The film begins in fairly traditional mode with two politicians, Gangaprasad (Sayaji Sjinde) and Prabhakar (Prakash Raj), vying with each other for the position of Chief Minister.  Gangaprasad is outed as corrupt by investigative journalist Shafi (Shafi), who seems content to announce such major news on an apparently relatively small TV network. Perhaps that is why Gangaprasad feels that no-one is likely to notice if Shafi disappears immediately after these revelations, and sends his tame thugs to dispose of the journalist and his wife. How could anyone be suspicious of the politician involved, if the journalist revealing corruption goes missing immediately after said revelations? Hm. Gangaprasad also orders the death of Siri (Regina Cassandra), which is the threat that starts the politician’s eventual downfall, although the reasons why her death is necessary aren’t explained until later in the story.

Maisamma (Jagapathi Babu), the rowdy sheeter (according to the subtitles – I have no idea what a rowdy sheeter actually is, but it seemed an adequate description) charged with carrying out these orders receives a visit from Seenu (Sai Dharam Tej) who asks to be killed by the gang. The explanation involves a flashback to the story of the romance between Siri and Seenu, but despite that being the ostensible reason for the whole charade, the romance is given short shrift overall. There is very little chemistry between the two actors, probably because in true college romance formula, Siri initially can’t stand Seenu and it takes some time for their relationship to develop. Once a couple, they also don’t spend much time together at all; not even in the songs, which are focused more on showcasing Sai Dharam Tej and his undeniable skills in that area. Needless to say, although he’s a rowdy with a penchant for dealing in death, Maisamma is reluctant to kill by polite request, and demands an explanation which forms a large part of the rest of the first half.

The tone of the story is set early on when Seenu breaks into dance to illustrate his romance with Seenu and the gang of rowdies join in. I loved this, partly because there is nothing more amusing than watching big tough guys try to dance, but also because they all look as if they are really enjoying themselves. So good to see these guys do more than just hang around looking grim and then being beaten into a pulp by the hero. The comedy continues with Maisamma’s right hand man, Raghu Babu who along with Prabhas Sreenu and Ahuti Prasad, provides most of the humour for the film. No sign of Brahmi or Ali, thankfully, and the comedy feels much fresher as a result, even though it’s mostly the usual slapstick and innuendo. Sathya Krishna is excellent and very funny in a small role as Raghu Babu’s wife, and demonstrates just why I think she deserves larger roles in more films.

The second half does drag a little as Seenu manipulates everyone into doing what he needs them to do, but overall it’s funny and there is just enough action to keep the film moving in the right direction. Part of the lull may be because the first three songs are over quickly in the first half, and of the remaining two, one is used over a fight scene. That does work well and is clever use of the track, but does mean there is less peppy dancing later in the film. However Jagapathi Babu and the rest of the support cast are excellent as they try to chase down Seenu and Siri, and along with Sai Dharam’s Tej’s enthusiasm the lulls are temporary.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the film is that Seenu isn’t a hero with amazing fighting skills, although he can fight when he has to, but rather he relies on his wits to get him out of trouble. Although his manipulations get ever more unrealistic and the comedy becomes improbable, Seenu has enough charm to carry it off. His dancing to Anoop Rubens excellent soundtrack is an advantage, and although he isn’t quite as smooth as his cousins, Sai Dharam Tej is definitely someone to look out for in the future. Regina Cassandra is also very good in a role that doesn’t give her too much scope, but she showcases a wide range of emotions effectively and looks to be capable of more. With an entertaining storyline, excellent support cast and likeable hero Pilla Nuvvu Leni Jeevitham is worth catching in the cinema for some good choreography and more than a few laughs.

Golconda High School

golconda high school poster

Golconda High School is a family friendly youth and sport oriented film that borrows heavily from others in the genre like The Mighty Ducks and Chak de India. A ragtag team is brought together by their misfit coach to win back an inter-school trophy and protect their school sports oval. It doesn’t sound like much, and it is quite a slight story, but I quite enjoy the way the characters develop and the good lead performances.

A quick aside – My DVD subtitles refused to cooperate so I downloaded some subs. Whoever did them was undaunted by their caps lock being stuck on some letters and a mysterious appearance of the number 3 whenever apostrophes were required. But thank you, whoever you are.

Golconda High School_Tanikella BharaniGolconda High School_problem

Sampath (Sumanth) is called back to his old school by headmaster Viswanath (Tanikella Bharani) to coach the cricket team. He had been cricket captain back in the day, but left the game under a cloud. Initially reluctant to commit, he is irritated into accepting the job by Kireet (Subbaraju), a board member with a keen interest in real estate, especially that large patch of land occupied by the sports ground. Kireet has an ally in Madhu (Shafi), the maths teacher and deputy principal. The boys are demotivated and unused to being pushed to excel so they provide a challenge and a reward for Sampath. Romance is supplied by English teacher Anjali played by Swathi. The story is predictable but the characters were not always exactly what I expected.

Golconda High School_Sumanth

Sumanth is likeable and blokey as Sampath. Sampath has Telugu Hero Syndrome and is never wrong about anything and is therefore not required to change his opinions or adapt in any way. But that characteristic is common to many successful sportspeople so it didn’t seem out of place. Sampath has a troubled history and he is a stickler for principles so he has a little bit of internal conflict but really, he is there to inspire the boys and to see them achieve his/their dream. Sumanth has an easy quality to his dialogue delivery, seeming conversational most of the time. He does amp up the jaw clenching and drama when it is needed, but he is not a superhero – just a focussed and determined man (once he has to be). He and teacher Anjali (Swathi) have an understated flirtation. They’re both single and attractive and they don’t play too many games, admitting they like each other quite easily.

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Swathi’s role is small but has a bit of substance. Anjali is a modern young woman with a natural and outgoing personality. Anjali is popular with the staff and students and she sometimes cajoles people into patching up their differences or cheers them on. She befriends Sampath and commends his efforts to support and develop the team. She calls him over for dinner and they share a romantic ‘what if?’ duet. Their relationship a little awkward as they both feel uncertain at times, and they seem to genuinely like each other. Again, nothing fake or flashy about it, just nice and relatable.

I like the way they phase in and out of reality, and the internal conversations they are practicing. No dancing and a bit cheesy, but you can’t have everything and this does suit their characters very well.

Golconda High School_friendly 1Golconda High School_cheer squad

The staff take on the boys in a friendly match and they all looked like they were having lots of fun. The interactions between the supporting teachers were funny in an everyday way, nothing overtly comedic but the humour of people who regularly wind each other up. There are lots of small interactions and dialogue exchanges that flesh out this school environment. When the final match is on, the parents and teachers have some good lines and little cutaway shots for reactions.

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The boys are a mixed bag, some more competent actors than others, but they make up a realistically varied team. I liked their intro sketches. But despite introducing them as simply the good kid, the fat kid, the scared kid, the angry one, the film does allow them to be a little more than just a stock type. Most of the boys face pressure from their family to excel in studies, and some are not supposed to waste valuable study time on anything else. With the exception of Siddhanth (Srinivas Sai) who is a hero-in-waiting, the boys grow up a little and assert their identities a bit more as they develop confidence. Initially resentful of their hard headed coach, they come to understand he is a decent bloke. Goutham (Santosh Sobhan) is the natural leader, the guy who gets in there and motivates his team mates when things get tough, a boy who will stand up for a friend and take responsibility for himself. Siddhanth gets all the glory for playing with an injury, but he only put himself out when it suited him. I was a little disappointed to see him given so much credit but not surprised. He and Sampath were very similar.

Golconda High School_Ramesh the directorGolconda High School_star cast

Ramesh’s (Vasudev Sastry) attempt at making a film was just one of the glimpses of the boys home lives.



Varun (Sangeet Sobhan) is the fat kid but he also has a supportive family who are proud of him eventually for doing well in the game and getting a bit fitter. Ashish (Sai Kiran) has a demanding mother but she sees that the discipline of the game is good for her son and helps him focus so she drops her objections. It’s simplistic yet realistic as the parents start to see differences when their kids are happy and productive if not all budding rocket scientists. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen Santosh Sobhan and Farookh (who plays Mikey) as younger versions of heroes in other films.

Golconda High School_You rock

I like Subbaraju in character roles and he is well suited to playing the slightly intimidating Kireet. Well, except in a few scenes with Sumanth where he looks like he is about to crack up laughing.

Given Subbaraju’s track record of being able to go from zero to full blown fury in a nanosecond, I kept wondering if Sumanth was pulling faces out of shot. Kireet represents the short term hunger for profit over long term society gains. He and Madhu dismiss anything other than getting students to rank as a waste of time and potential earnings.

Golconda High School_oh the dramaGolconda High School_for the love of the game

Watching them as they watched the pivotal match was highly entertaining. You could see Kireet’s motivation for Golconda high school to lose warring with his appreciation of the game.

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He and Madhu seem to be caught  in the filmi bad guy equivalent of an unhappy marriage, stuck with each other until the bitter end.

Mohan Krishna Indraganti’s films have been a bit hit and miss for me. I found Grahanam interesting if depressing, Ashta Chamma was successful in parts but I found a couple of the performances weak and annoying. I haven’t seen Mayabazar as I am allergic to Bhumika Chawla. Golconda High School is a film I didn’t expect to like anywhere near as much as I did. Nobody dances, nobody dies. But the characters are relatable, the performances are pretty well balanced and the messages strewn throughout are mostly ones I agree with. I also liked the photo montages over the opening and end credits that stayed true to the ideals of sportsmanship, team work and friendship. 3 stars!

Golconda High School_supporters


Trivikram films tend to focus as much on the dialogue as on the action, so it was inevitable that I missed the comedy that had the rest of the audience laughing and cheering through most of Julayi. Not that it really mattered. There was still plenty of great dancing, excellent action scenes, ample screen time for my favourite actor Allu Arjun, and a relatively easy to follow (if somewhat unbelievable) plot giving another enjoyable ‘adventure without subtitles’.

Ravi (Allu Arjun) starts as many a Telugu hero seems to do, by having an argument with his father (Tanikella Bharani in his customary role). Taking a cue from Chiru’s ‘money is easy to make’ speech from Challenge on a TV in the background, the argument seems to be based around Ravi’s lack of commitment to the conventional way to earn a living and ends with Ravi heading out to a gambling club. Since it’s raining heavily he cadges a lift, which just happens to be with a gang on their way to rob a bank. Because stopping to give someone a lift on the way to commit a major crime doesn’t seem like a risky thing to do at all – right?

Luckily for Ravi they seem happy to drop him off on a corner but that is their first big mistake. Ravi has awesome intuition, amazing powers of observation and a seemingly photographic memory and is able to lead the police to the site of the bank theft in time to partially foil the robbers’ escape. Head gangster Bittu (Sonu Sood) has already decimated his own gang, presumably to ensure a larger slice of the money, and Ravi helps lower the number still further by taking out one of Bittu’s trusted gang members (Shafi in a very brief appearance). This seems to spell war between the two, although the apparent destruction of the money and ensuring that Bittu is arrested and his plan foiled are also key contenders for the ensuing rivalry between Bittu and Ravi.

The bank heist is an odd mixture of some excellent ideas, such as the smooth way the robbers disable the cameras as they move through the building, and some gaping plot holes which just don’t make sense. This lack of logic reoccurs throughout the film where there is never any explanation for Ravi’s astounding ability to apparently read Bittu’s mind and predict how, where and when he will strike next. The police are also very ready to fall in with Ravi’s plans and have no objections any time he kills one of the gang. I was almost expecting that Ravi would be revealed as some sort of super-agent which might have explained the nonchalance towards his ever increasing body count and the willingness of everyone to follow his lead. But no, nothing quite so logical is allowed to intrude into the plot, or at least not that I could understand.

Sonu Sood is his usual impressive self as the villain Bittu, although he has a tendency to start cold and menacing but then over-do it just a tad and become almost comic. He too has amazing powers since he is able to interpret the sign language of his deaf henchwoman without even looking at what she is signing. It’s a talent she seems to share since she rarely looks at his replies either but at least she has better survival skills than the rest of the gang. To add some further complications, Bittu is collaborating with local MLA Kota Srinivasa Rao, who’s done some dodgy deal to cheat his investors and seems to be in it for the money. It’s the same crooked statesman role that Kota plays so well that now I don’t ever expect to see him without there being some dodgy deal involved.

The action moves to Hyderabad when Ravi is sent to ACP Sitaram (Rajendra Prasad) as part of a witness protection scheme. Ravi falls in love with a girl he sees at the bus-stop which results in a succession of songs, in fact almost the entire soundtrack one after the other, as Ravi attempts to win Madhu’s heart. Ileana started off well as Madhu and I liked her glasses and general look, but after Ravi takes her shopping and persuades her into contact lenses and Western clothes she just looks too thin and out of proportion. Although none of her outfits are terrible, the majority aren’t very flattering either and the curse of the Telugu film shoe designer strikes once again with a terrible pair of black boots.

Bunny and Ileana have very little chemistry together and although there are some better moments in the songs, the romance never really takes off. The songs by Devi Sri Prasad are mainly pictured on Bunny who is energetic and wonderful to watch in better than usual choreography. For a change there are no special ‘feature moves’ – no sign of ‘the worm’ – and Bunny is given free rein to do what he does so well and just dance.  He also shows commitment to shiny multicoloured shirts which I did appreciate.

Every single possible comedy uncle turns up but thankfully their comedy is well integrated into the main plot and kept to a minimum. Trivikram seems to use most of the humour in snappy dialogues between  Bunny and Rajendra Prasad which were well appreciated by the audience. There is plenty of ‘action’ Bunny but a lot more ‘funny’ Bunny and both Allu Arjun and Rajendra Prasad work well together in these scenes. In fact the only major fail is Bunny’s hair which varies from OK in the frequent rain scenes (because it is flat and plastered to his head!) to really quite terrible with spikes at the back and flattened matting at the front. There is no hair continuity either and it becomes quite a distraction in a number of scenes as the number and position of the spikes varies – or perhaps I’m just becoming a little too obsessed. There is also the matter of his coloured contact lenses, but I’ll leave that rant for another time!

The film does look great, with some good use of locations in Dubai and reasonable special effects. The sets are also well dressed although Temple and I did have a discussion about the large assortment of really ugly ornaments that appeared on every desk. But there was commitment to family photographs and I did like the large picture of Michael Jackson in Ravi’s room. I liked the soundtrack before I saw the film and although it doesn’t sound too different from previous DSP soundtracks the music fits in with the general feel of the film. The songs could have been better paced though as there did seem to be a lot in the first half – not that I’m really complaining as watching Bunny dance is always worthwhile.

Julayi has plenty of action and strong performances from most of the cast which helps keep attention away from all the plot holes. Its slick and well filmed to make the most of Peter Hein’s excellently choreographed fight scenes. Definitely worth catching on the big screen if you can although I think this is a film that I will appreciate more with subtitles. Hopefully this doesn’t disappear into the same DVD black hole as Khaaleja and we do see a DVD release soon.