Director S J Chaitanya, in his new venture Aavu Puli Madhyalo Prabhas Pelli, tries to make light of the mystery surrounding Tollywood actor Prabhas' bachelorhood ever since the runaway success of the latter's blockbuster Baahubali: The Beginning
by incorporating the rumour into a dark comedy about an actor who goes by the name Prabhas (Ravi Teja).
Protagonist Prabhas is a short-film actor and a Prabhas impersonator. He breathes in the actor in every role he takes up (or so we are led to believe). He is on the job of searching for an actress suitable for his next venture. While on it, he falls in love with colleague Anushka (Bhanu Sri). But he soon finds out that she is getting married to someone else offering her family a huge amount of money. And so Prabhas decides to earn the amount himself and free her from the impending marriage.
Meanwhile, he stumbles upon a distraught Amrutha (Aswini Chandra Sekhar), sister to dreaded Nalgonda factionist Nagaram Nani. Amrutha wants to elope with her lover as she fears her brother's wrath. Prabhas strikes a deal with her that he will help her elope, provided she pays him a hefty amount, which he can then use to free Anushka.
In a pretty formulaic way, the film then showcases Prabhas putting his acting skills to use to help Amrutha escape, basing his attempts on the whole Prabhas bachelorhood gossip.
Using antagonist Nani, played by Baahubali fame Prabhakar (Kalakeya), S J Chaitanya attempts to create a dark comedy, but fails to blend violence, fear and laughter in the precise proportions. The story puts you in plenty of confusion, especially if you are unaware of the gossip surrounding actor Prabhas' marriage. Also, the entire exercise of duping a factionist and eloping with his sister seems reckless and pointless, when all that was needed was reasoning with him, given that Prabhas is shown as having amazing powers of persuasion.
However the movie does have oodles of comedy, with the writers having put plenty of thought into it. The antagonists are all hilarious and have impressive comic timing. Teja and Aswini, too, showcase an admirable flair for comedy in several scenes. But it is difficult to mix genres that are polar opposites (comedy and gravitas) and execute them perfectly, especially when there isn't much material to look up to in the regional industry. And this is where the movie starts falling apart. Chaitanya needs to look to Bollywood, which has managed to produce a few good black comedies in the past with above average success.
Ravi Teja emotes well, but you can barely notice any Prabhas in him anywhere in the entire two-hour film. That does injustice to his role as an impersonator. Neither Aswini Chandra Sekhar nor Bhanu Sri takes off in her debut, and their performances are average. Baahubali fame Prabhakar does a poor job as a feared mafia kingpin, and is totally wasted - the director clearly relies too much on him, but he cannot be expected to do a Bahubali in every venture he takes up.
The visuals (Ganesh Arti) are typical of dark comedies with the rendering of colours in sepia, but are good enough. Kavi Shankar's music however doesn't add much grimness to the narrative.
In all, this spoof on the tittle-tattle surrounding actor Prabhas' life does not take off well, much like the rumours themselves.