Cute is back. And how.
Not too long ago, the Telugu cinema industry would regularly churn out a particular kind of love stories, where the plot was all about two people getting together, not able to "express their feelings" thanks to circumstances, tearing apart from each other, and then elatedly coming together again. No factionist fathers, no ancient family rivalries, no crackling bones and spilling guts, no grandiose sets. Just plain old love.
All you had to do is grin at the couple's cute nothings, rejoice in their courtship, and pray, pray, pray that they get together soon. And basically, have a really good time.
Ala Modalaindi not only brings back romance onto the screen, it is also the most wholesomely fun film to have hit theatres for a really long time. Building a laughathon without having to resort to an unconnected "comedy track" - the stuff Jandhyala movies were made of, and that, now, what Allari Naresh's brand is all about - is no mean feat. And Nandini Reddy, the director of this one, aces it.
It helps that the movie's lead, Nani, is a brilliant humour artiste all by himself, and looks fit enough to take on the might of the whole Tollywood humour brigade all by himself. He's great both as Gautham, the romantic 20-something completely in love, and as Gautham, the man who delivers laughs when you need them.
Talking too much about the plot would be tantamount to doing injustice to the movie experience, so let's just say that Ala Modalaindi is the love story of Gautham and Nithya (Nithya Menon), whose happy ending falls in place only after a bunch of avoidable hurdles are crossed.
Despite a storyline at least 3 centuries old (as the film itself points out), there is great writing, an amazing sense of humour, and above all, an infectious energy all through.
What's also striking about the film is that its character ensemble is contemporary and realistic, and not in the cosmetic sense of the word. The pub-hopping and coolness is never exaggerated or artificial, and there's no contrived melodrama either.
Nithya Menon is a charming find. Her role is well-written - bubbly and warm without once being over-the-top. Plus, she's fully-clad throughout the flick. Menon is quite the Genelia replacement that our cinema so badly needs right now.
Then, there is a whole battalion of other good actors. Rohini is immensely endearing as the hero's mother, offering counsel about choosing soulmates and listening to the heart. The actors playing the hero's friends are all talented, and it's also nice to see in the movie a young spark of talent called Chaitanya who debuted in a dud some time back
An interesting accessory to the story-telling is the use of the random but fun kidnapper played by Ashish Vidyarthi, who gets to mouth some good lines.
The music isn't a memorable piece of work though. And it's surprising to see the movie's visual quality compromised so much it looks like a no-show right from the start.
In sum, yes, we recommend Ala Modalaindi, an unlikely discovery this season.