Badrinath is hopefully the last of Telugu "socio-fantasy" flicks - inspired by Magadheera
and drawing all the wrong lessons from its success - for some time to come. It was just as well that its makers decided to go on a rampage screening all over town on the first day of its release (Prasads alone has over 20 shows on the first day); it's hard to see this film finding takers soon after.
Really, was there nothing learnt from a recent disaster called Shakti
? On the contrary. Badrinath seems like a copy of Shakti; and like Shakti, it rarely rises beyond its individual strengths - talented actors, colossal sets, and a few action sequences being the only that we can think of now.
Badrinath (Allu Arjun) is this super-duper warrior who has been groomed by his Guru (Prakash Raj, bearing an impressive air that reminds you of the Kung Fu Panda
's Master Shifu) as part of an army of kshetra-paalakulu
who are hired to protect India's temples from foreign invaders (all this, by the way, is set in the present era).
He currently guards over the powerful Badrinath temple, but he also has enough enthu in him to go and wipe off Pakistani terrorists at Amarnath in one go. Also, Badri doesn't think for himself; his Guru does.
The layers of Himalayan exotica peel off quickly. Heroine Alakananda (Tamannah) walks in to Badrinath, and her story has a background of evil and violent relatives. Meanwhile, Badri's Guru plans to make him his successor, as chief of the all-powerful Taxila institution. For this, Badri must be sworn to celibacy all his life. This news (which is unknown to Badri) devastates Alakananda, who has now fallen in love with our hero (again, unknown to Badri).
In fact, Badri has no say in any
of these life-altering decisions. In the end of the film, after enormous amounts of cinematic drivel, the Guru tells him that Alakananda's love for him is greater than Badri's devotion to God, and that Badri should marry her since anyone
can become Taxila's next boss.
All V V Vinayak seems to have done in Badrinath is take a completely moth-eaten script, strip all sense off it, transplant it to a fascinating land, turn up the volume several decibels high, get Anand Sai to design some amazing set pieces, and make his hero dress funny.
This story isn't even about Badrinath the warrior or his special talents; it's about the standard-issue grunting, swearing goons who make a random woman's life miserable. Badrinath takes it upon himself to protect this woman for no apparent reason - he obviously has many more important things to do for the country and mankind.
Meanwhile, Tamannah walks around in the Himalayas in tank tops and thigh-high dresses. Is the story so extraordinary that we are expected to overlook the blatant disrespect to logic? Also, the whole track of Alakananda being an atheist and then being "converted" to a believer lacks maturity in thought.
The villains, led by a suitably enthusiastic Ashwini Kalsekar and a pleasant-looking Kelly Dorjee, don't have anything special written into their characters.
Then, there's so much tasteless gore in Badrinath that the numerous censor cuts and blanking of frames don't help. What is the point of Allu Arjun's much-hyped newly-acquired samurai skills if the fight scenes mostly consist of chopping limbs and halving bodies?
But maybe Vinayak did wake up to how things are unfolding. In the second half of the film, he randomly throws in props, hoping they'll keep audiences from cursing. So, you have a watered-down comedy track with Brahmanandam, and one forgettable song for every time Alakananda looks at the hero lustily (which is every time she looks at him).
Allu Arjun barely gets room to act
; he's way too busy killing people or dancing to songs. Tamannah seems to have been finally dragged into the traditional heroine's realm, what with her inhibitions having successfully been shed with the navel-jerking and the nyphomaniacal look in her eye. Prakash Raj is brilliant as always. A few jokes by Raghu Babu and Krishna Bhagawan are good, but too few and far between.
Extravagant production values and loud, loud music just don't help matters. In Badrinath's world of overkill and excess, nothing tastes good. Skip the movie.