Nannaku Prematho Movie Review
The most-awaited film of the Sankranti season kicks off the race with a lot of promise and style. Director Sukumar has created a stunning and intelligent story of what happens when a son (NTR Jr) takes up the unfinished agenda of a father (Rajendra Prasad) lying on his death-bed who has been duped by a rival businessman (Jagapathi Babu) of his billions of networth and also his sense of identity
The story is exactly a leaf out of films like “S/o Satyamurthy” where the son takes on the mantle of living his father’s dreams and values in action. But Sukumar thinks differently. He has the baggage of past experience in teaching mathematics and physics at Intermediate level and has already made some of the most intelligent films in Tollywood where the hero is a rare admixture of Captain Spock (left-brained) and Controlled Emotionalities. Like his previous films “Aarya”, “100% Love”, Sukumar weaves NTR Jr in a never-before role of Abhiram, the scion of a London businessman Ramesh Chandra Prasad (Rajendra Prasad) , who can read people’s minds, read the next moves of his opponents, pre-empt dangers lurking in the environment, pump-prime the stock prices of his own listed company and even have pre-meditated dates with the girl he desires (Rakul Preet Singh). The story moves with lightening speed once his father Rajendra Prasad’s bitterness and helplessness in taming Kautilya Krishna Murthy (Jagpathi Babu) surfaces as he was about to pop out. NTR swings into action and starts onslaught on the business empire of Kautilya until the cookie crumbles.
In more than 160 minutes, Sukumar takes you into a relentless parade of mind-games and mentalist feats of NTR Jr. with sometimes competing, sometimes winning tactics used against Jagapathi Babu in typical corporate warfare games. The only difference is, Sukumar uses his trademark style of no-frills, poker-face characterisation with concepts borrowed from the world of physics, mathematics and economics like “The Butterfly Effect” (The macrowave theory where a flutter of a butterfly in Kenya can create a tornado in America) and “Unfulfilled emotions” (The Freudian basis theory which states all emotions which are suppressed actually lead to higher stress which lead to unintended consequences elsewhere). Sukumar embellishes the movie with some breathtaking scenes and stunts which are built upon these theories and sprinkles lot of high IQ stuff linking all emotions to the Butterfly effect, Electra Complex (the female equivalent of Oedipus complex), String theory and so on.
Technically, the film is brilliant and picture-perfect as it straddles the urban landscape of London and Spain with telling effects. It looks like the budget of the film takes off exactly where the last shooting of “1-Nenokkadine” left off in London bridge. But true to the theme of the film which is more about corporate warfare, the stock shots are more on the Canary Wharf zone, the financial district of London where the leading banks are headquartered and in La Banga, Spain. Stunts are few but distinctly different because they use the effect of the Volkswagon Car Engineering marvel Ad to create a ripple effect of polishing off the villains with the drop of a marble ball. The same concept is used in the beginning titles to introduce all the talent that went into the making of this film.
Performance-wise, NTR Jr. steals the show right from the first frame to the ending shot where he hugs his father in affectionate cries. Not since the movie “Munna” where Prabhas changed his hairstyle has an actor’s hairdo create such a hysterical fan-followership. With power dressing of immaculately tucked satin shirts, ties and a beard dovetailing with a hairstyle that looks like a hermit, NTR Jr looks every inch like a monk who rides a Ferrari. His million-dollar buck image is matched by exceptional dancing in all the songs with effortless ease and dialogue delivery that stands out with minimalism, for a change. His confrontation scenes with Jagapathi Babu before interval, and in the climax are paisa vasool scenes that make you wolf-whistle. Rakul Preet Singh has a meatier role as Jagapathi Babu’s daughter and also emotes in one of the most touching scenes in the film. Rajendra Prasad has the same composure as always but his scenes should have got extended and much-layered. The Father-Son sentiment is a bit under-loaded and that’s where the film lacks soul in conveying the emotions which justify the title. Jagapathi Babu carries his role as the antagonist stylishly well – it gives a new cinematic high to have a villain who doesn’t bump off people for Telugu audience and this is perhaps his best film in the second innings.
Music and technical details:
Music by DSP is rocking and the songs are all well-picturised. The background score may lack the usual grace but it is not loud and hence does the job. Sukumar gives us a great film that has all the substance and style in making this a modern epic of intelligence squared between the hero and the villain. In many ways, it is a better film than the half-hearted attempt in “S/o Satyamurthy” (for films of that genre) and also far more comprehensive and clear in output than “1-Nenokkadine” but by making it too straightforward and super-intelligent, Sukumar erred on the side of giving some much-needed relief to the audience in the form of comedy or more emotions. The emotional outburst of the sons including NTR in the ending was too late, too little and the emotional scene between Madhubala and Rakul was evocative but ill-placed with no connection to the characterisation of Jagapathi Babu.
The Final Word
Sukumar has to tone down on the concepts borrowed from the sciences and mathematics and concentrate on story-telling. But we realise, a director becomes a puppet of his pet dreams and pet peeves and Sukumar is no different here – he can play himself and not to the gallery. This makes “Naannaku Prematho” a typical Sukumar film but with exceptional clarity and brilliance of performances. It is definitely watchable and a decent film to kickstart the Sankranti season. It is a worthy 25th film to NTR’s catalogue of films but whether it will catch fire in the commercial sense remains to be seen.