Govindudu Andarivadele: Once upon a family
If there’s a template for masala flicks, the Telugu film industry has another template for family entertainers. In recent years, family entertainers starring actors who have a box office pull are timed to release during the festive season. Filmmakers hope the family audience will troop in, connect with a thought, a dialogue, a character or a bond between the on-screen family members, have a good laugh, shed a few tears and get their money’s worth. An old-fashioned story told reasonably well is enough to put a smile on many faces. Krishnavamsi walks this predictable path in Govindudu Andarivadele.
An idealist father (played by Prakash Raj) constructs the village’s first hospital expecting that his son Chandrasekhar (Raghu), now a medical graduate, will help the hamlet have good medical facility. The son has his own plans — of going abroad in search of better prospects. The father snaps his bond with the son and years later, the grandson Abhiram (Ram Charan) comes to make amends, without disclosing his identity.
This oft-repeated tale, has shades of several family dramas told earlier in Telugu, Tamil and Hindi cinema. Yet, Krishnavamsi makes it his own in the way he narrates it. Ram Charan displays a few clichéd NRI quirks such as photographing monks in the airport, a buffalo on the road and gawks at Sankranti cock fights in the village. This youngster with a ponytail (there’s a close-up of the ponytail too) has a slight twang in the way he speaks, but doesn’t overdo the NRI traits.
He enters the household with a vague identity, learns agile stick fight moves and agriculture basics from the patriarch and basks in the warmth of the family members. The old hospital still lies abandoned. And the patriarch’s elder brother (played by Kota Srinivasa Rao) and his family members (Rao Ramesh and Aadarsh Balakrishna) await the right opportunity to overthrow Prakash Raj and get a stronghold on the village.
As the narrative explores the bond between the different generations and the elderly couple, there are scenes that remind one ofSeetharamaiahgari manvaralu and Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, among several other films. The character arcs of Srikanth, the wastrel son of Prakash Raj, Kota and Adarsh are somewhat reminiscent of similar characters in Kamal Haasan’s Thevar Magan. But Govindudu… doesn’t dig deeper into the uglier side.
The women and children are there to fill the frame without having much to do. Kamalinee Mukherjee is a capable actress whom we’d like to see more of. Cast in a small role, she does her best. A slightly plump, wide-eyed Kajal Aggarwal isn’t given much scope to perform and she does what is expected of her. Jayasudha never strikes a wrong note and holds her own majestically. Prakash Raj lives his role of an idealist, tad egoistic patriarch. Good support also come from Aadarsh, Raghu and Rao Ramesh.
The real show stealer though is Ram Charan. Long after Magadheera, he gets a platform to display his acting chops and guided by Krishnavamsi, he shows he can emote well.
Yuvan Shankar Raja gives the film a few hummable numbers.
There are plenty of niggling issues, the most cringe-worthy being the Srikanth-Kamalinee episode following which Srikanth is rightfully ousted from the family. Also, Ram Charan taunting Kajal with her pub photographs would, ideally, amount to harassment. What happens to the villain gang? And pray, which village house has a wooden bridge on ropes, which seems mounted just so that Charan can save a little girl and win the heart of the family members. But the film’s biggest drawback is it is soppy, melodramatic climax.
Cast: Ram Charan, Prakash Raj, Jayasudha and Kajal Aggarwal
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Story line: A grandson tries to mend strained relationship between a father and son.
Bottom line: Old-fashioned story, but largely enjoyable.