Combining offbeat cinema with a commercial formula is often as difficult as combining oil and water. Both of them, often considered parallel roads, have always been treated as separate subjects by directors of Tollywood. Enter Merlapaka Gandhi, fresh off his Film Making course from the LV Prasad Institute.
Not to be mistaken, Venkatadri Express is as commercial a cinema as any other product from Tollywood, but this one does not need you to leave your brains at home. Though there is nothing in this movie that is “Inceptionesque (my term)”, the director has delivered a product that will have you enjoy your money’s worth.
The story revolves around Sandeep Kishan who is a guy who can’t but interfere in squabbles of other people. He often gets into trouble with his rather strict disciplinarian of a father who is counting his mistakes with a limit of 100 mistakes per person. Sundeep is on Number 99 and with his brother’s impending marriage in Tirupati he can’t afford to put a foot wrong. The story is all about the family’s journey to Tirupati and what happens in between.
The biggest plus point of this movie is its taut screenplay. Never letting go of the tempo for a second, Merlapaka Gandhi ensures that every scene has something that carries the story forward. Aiding this journey is the incredible camera work of Chota K Naidu.
When you walk out of the hall, you would probably feel that a bigger star would have probably pulled off a similar role with ease. But the fact that none of those stars would have bettered Sundeep Kishan’s effort is a testimony to the talent of the man. The entire movie rests on his shoulders with the side actors providing the right amount of support.
The dialogues are well scripted to suit the hankering of commercial cinema. The action scenes are good while Ramana Gogula’s music is a plus. Rakul Preet Singh is a good addition to this film as well. She does act instead of just looking pretty and dancing to the tunes.
The final climax is one that will keep you entertained and in the end, one can say that Venkatadri Express is a refreshing break from the regular dose of mind numbing hogwash that roams around wearing the cloak of commercial cinema.
I am going with 4/5 for Venkatadri Express. It might not be a path breaking movie, but it sure does not break your patience. Watch it and enjoy the ride! Three cheers for those who made this film happen!