There are bad movies, and there are bad movies. And then there are disasters. Bangaram makes all of them look good. One of the more thoughtless films to come out of the Telugu movie stables, this one is so supremely devoid of any soul, it makes you want to give some of yours to it, even if non-refundable.
Let’s get whatever story there is, out of the way first. Bangaram (Pavan Kalyan) gets fired from a TV channel by its MD for no fault of his, and decides to flatter the owner of the channel, Pedireddy (Mukesh Rishi), to get a recommendation letter to apply for the BBC.
Pedireddy is a Seema veteran, and when Bangaram lands up in Kurnool at his place, he decides to help Pedireddy’s daughter Sandhya (Meera Chopra), who is trying to escape her marriage to the brother of Bhooma Reddy (Ashutosh Rana), a factionist villian. Sandhya wants to run away to her beau Vinay (Raja) in Hyderabad, from where they’ll leave for the US, and Bangaram is trying save her from Bhooma Reddy in the process.
To start with, Bangaram is extremely monotonous. The main theme runs out by the first half, and all of the second half, Pavan is helping Meera escape, in a characterless charade of different sequences. It’s not like there’s something happening alongway, like chemistry building between the pair; the sequences are just what we said – characterless, discrete.
For the film to survive that, they would have to at least be innovative sequences. Alas, the movie has no intelligence either. Every time Pavan Kalyan gets into the stiffest of troubles, he beats up 20 sword-wielding Seema soldiers. He can do that for hours after he’s been brutally stabbed, he can break open the earth when he’s buried, and he can grant you three wishes. There is no cleverness in the script, almost anywhere. It’s like a Teja movie – when the hero is cornered, he becomes Superman.
Then, the film looks like it was directed by a novice who kept inserting things as he thought them up or as he looked up his checklist. So the climax suddenly has a kid being forced into marriage, and Pavan Kalyan being stabbed and still selflessly fighting, so as to bring in the melodramatic angle – something for the women, as they say in the interviews.
And of course, there's the violence. It makes the Taliban seem humane. In the absence of a great screenplay, the gore stands out in the movie. And the Seema factionism and violence theme, at the core of the film, is so worn out, it makes the wheel look like a new concept. And by the way, just how did those zillions of men clad in white dhotis, spilling out of Sumos and wielding hatchets, become fashionable in Tollywood? Give us Ram Gopal Varma’s gangsters any day.
In a big minus, the film doesn’t have a heroine and a lead pair romance – Sandhya is never interested in Bangaram (and neither is he in her), and finally marries Vinay anyway, and there’s no other female lead. Not having a lead pair romance is okay if you are making a social film with a theme people really associate with. For Bangaram, it seems stupid, and the movie simply doesn’t have anything to make up for that.
And finally, let’s not forget the length. You make a 180-minute movie with a story like this only if your target audience are people who are in coma.
The best part of Bangaram is, of course, the music. It’s hard for even Pavan Kalyan fans, however, to salvage this one based just on that.
Finally, Bangaram must be the first Telugu film – Indian film, perhaps, at least in the commercial genre – which has had the “Maakal…a” gaali get past the censors (camouflaged a bit, but it’s extremely clear for anyone who is not in a coma). Pavan Kalyan uses it recklessly in the climax. He is a big star who has so many young fans idolizing him, and his films are watched by so many people – what were the makers thinking, making him mouth that word? The censor board has some explanation to do.