Many Indian men and women get exposed to what’s referred to as Ladki Dekhna/Ponnu Pakaradhu/Pennu Kaanal/Pelli Choopulu etc (in Hindi/Tamil/Malayalam/Telugu and various other Indian languages). It’s that time in your life when parents assume that it’s high time you “settled” down with your prospective life partner and the match making process starts. Of course things have changed a lot in recent times and in the big cities the marriage brokers are fast becoming an extinct breed, even as online matrimonial service providers are getting popular day by day. Traditionally the ritual consisted of the prospective bridegroom along with his immediate family and probably a few more people, close relatives and/or friends, paying a visit to the prospective bride’s home. After the usual exchange of pleasantries, parents from both sides allow the boy and the girl to spend some talking to each other to help them decide if they like each other.
How does one actually decide to spend his/her lifetime with someone by talking to him/her for a few minutes for the first time is a question that is better not asked, as the elders will have some strange explanation for that as well. That’s probably why these days a lot many families are actually fine with the boy and the girl meeting for the first time in an informal place like a coffee shop and only on some positive indication emerging do the families go on to visit each other’s homes. I have in my own ways had interesting pelli choopulu experiences in various places in the country, some funny, some bizarre and some a little uncomfortable as well. It reached a point where I had to actually request my parents to stop pushing me for going through such formal procedures. This was because I realized that not only was it embarrassing for me, but so also for the person on the other side.
Why am I writing of all this when this is supposed to be a movie review? Well it’s simply because the film in question is none other than Tharun Bhascker’s Pelli Choopulu, the Telugu movie that has been well received from the day it released, going on to become a rage not just in A.P/Telangana but also in the rest of South India and even overseas, especially the U.S. Tharun Bhascker is someone who had made a couple of short films that had been warmly received. With Pelli Choopulu he has gone on to make the transition to feature films as well. At the very outset I must confess that having been tracking Telugu cinema and reviewing films for a long time I find it a little strange when people go gaga over a Telugu film, especially since the output from the industry has been disappointing overall in terms of the quality of films emerging over the last few years.
Of course that being said there are occasions when time and again I have been proven wrong and a film once in a while has gone on to really prove to be an exception. Hence I was quite curious as to why has Pelli Choopulu connected so well with the audience. So much so that even the sale of the Hindi remake rights seems to be generating a lot of interest. Finally over the previous weekend the film managed to release outside South India as well and thus I ventured to watch it with a lot of curiosity. One thing to be noticed is that the film does not actually have the backing of any popular actors among its star cast, and even the few actors whom you might recognize from some film or the other aren’t the regular actors that one gets to see in film after film. Needless to say that this element certainly ensures that there is some freshness to the film. Considering that the film after all is supposed to be inspired from a real life story, the believability angle is important.
By now one does not need to guess as to why the film is called Pelli Choopulu, especially after the flow that I started off this post with :). Yes the film is titled so because it is all about one such Pelli Choopulu that happens in a slightly bizarre fashion, or let me say that it takes place in a way that is not supposed to happen, going on to alter the lives of the people involved. Prashanth (Vijay Deverakonda) is an engineer by default and not by choice, generally a lazy chap who is a little too casual in life and more interested in pursuing his passion of cooking. In and out of jobs, he is usually seen hanging around with his best friends, irking his father (Kedar Shankara) who doesn’t feel that Prashanth is serious about his passion either. And why not because neither is being a chef or opening a restaurant considered all that fancy even now, nor will anyone take you seriously when you don’t really appear to be convincing.
No surprise that finally the solution to get his son back on track seems to be getting Prashanth married with the idea that he would turn responsible later. On the other hand Chitra (Ritu Varma) is the opposite of Prashanth, she has completed her MBA and has a clear focus in life. Her dad would like to however see her get married soon realizing that she has already faced a failed relationship and a great business idea which hasn’t taken off yet. Prashanth’s family turn up at Chitra’s place for pelli choopulu and the two get talking, as they end up getting locked in to a room by mistake. There is suitable scope for humour and drama and finally it turns out that it was a case of the address getting mixed up and thus Prashanth and Chitra are led by their families respectively to the “rightful” families for the pelli choopulu. So off they go their respective ways but life can be strange sometimes right?
A turn of circumstances bring Chitra and Prashanth together as they unite to get the business of a food truck going, with both of them having their own respective reasons for the same. What happens to their business? Do they end up being more than just business partners and what happens to their personal lives eventually is what we get to see as the film progresses. No prizes for guessing the outcome of the tale as this is after all a rom-com and hence the ending is no surprise at all. The fun element in a rom-com isn’t really the outcome but the route in which the outcome is achieved and considering that there is some fair amount of freshness infused by Tharun Bhascker I must say. There are thankfully no long drawn emotional sequences and the romantic angle is also shown in a convincing fashion. The film has a undercurrent of humour all through the duration and that is a big plus for the film. However the humour is very situational and doesn’t appear forced.
It is clear right from the very beginning as we see Prashanth and Chitra ending up locked up in a room and sharing their life stories that the film incorporates quite a bit of a slice of life feeling all throughout. The characters are all very believable and true to life and that’s what makes us relate to the tale easily. The art direction, costume and styling are also factors which lend an air of natural appearance to the proceedings. Nagesh Banell’s cinematography is effective and so is Vivek Sagar’s music, the songs flow smoothly with the narrative. It is imperative that I definitely mention the impressive dialogues by Tharun Bhascker, totally realistic and nothing too ambitious about the same. On the dialogue front how can I forget that it is Priyadarshi (who plays Kaushik, the friend of Prashanth) who ends up getting the best line in the whole film.
The supporting cast is effective and in particular I must say that Priyadarshi as the aimless friend of Prashanth and Anish Kuruvilla as the rich businessman are wonderful. Kedar Shankara and Gururaj Manepalli as the fathers of Prashanth and Chitra respectively also make an impact. Both Vijay Deverakonda and Ritu Varma are impressive playing the lead roles, sinking in to their characters easily. The lead actors share a good chemistry among themselves, very essential to make a rom-com work and thankfully that is clearly evident in the film. At times I did sense a slight influence of Band Baaja Baaraat, but I guess that is probably due to the nature of the subject per se and perhaps not really deliberate. If you are really wanting to watch the film assuming that the film is a big trendsetter or that is has broken new ground, then you might be slightly disappointed. I wouldn’t really equate Pelli Choopulu with anything all that grand but what I do know is that for Telugu cinema it’s a welcome relief to see such interesting slice of films once in a while at least.
Note: Pelli Choopulu is playing across the Country with English subtitles in select screens. But for an otherwise interesting film it is sad to see that the quality of subtitles is really bad. I wouldn’t really comment on the language used and all that because first of all the subtitles are missing for easily half the scenes in the film. I wish filmmakers take some care to look into the quality of their film’s subtitles as well, after all that’s part and parcel of their film as well.