Bejawada, a film that was sold to much of the unsuspecting public as (ahem) RGV's next, has made prolific (ahem again) headlines for reasons both intriguing
. Plus, the posters screamed the big question - will Bejawada be to Naga Chaitanya what Shiva
was to Nagarjuna?
However, this is the thing - Bejawada is as much a Ram Gopal Varma movie as Digvijay Singh is a Russian archaeologist. And far from being a cult film, this one is nothing more than the sorry output of a cast and crew of amateurs trying hard to be the real thing and not getting anywhere close.
Bejawada is a generic gangster movie, ostensibly set in Vijayawada. It features a Godfather-figure Kali (Prabhu), and the rivalry that breaks out in his camp following his (extremely predictable) death.
Kali is the kind who kills to do good, and his key henchman Vijay Krishna (Mukul Dev) is revered in the city as well. However, Kali's younger brother Shankar (Abhimanyu Singh) is jealous of his trust in Vijay Krishna. Powered by a dangerous mix of incompetence, insecurity and impatience, he violently begins his journey upwards, bumping off his own brother first, and then Vijay Krishna.
Vijay Krishna's death enrages his younger brother Siva Krishna (Naga Chaitanya) so much that he vows to strike fear in Shankar's heart. Even if it means that he (Siva Krishna) has to grimace 3 times as hard as in the promos.
The movie is violent, yes, but significantly lacks both the mood and the intensity needed to be a gritty underworld movie. The writing is so pitifully amateurish and the screenplay so patchy that it indeed plays out like a spoof
- like one of those Raghu Babu / Jayaprakash Reddy sequences imitating Sarkar
Meanwhile, Brahmanandam wears a bunch of felt pens around his neck, punning something about "Sketch veyyadam
"; and it is this joke and his Raktha Charitra take-off that make more sense than the real thing in Bejawada.
The actors do their job, but the characters they are playing lack personality. For example, Abhimanyu Singh can look as mean and maniacal as he can and wants to, but Shankar is essentially a one-dimensional slimy being with no menace in him.
Which brings us to the film's lead, who is eagerly packaged as the next Shiva. Indeed, they call him Shiva, make him scowl and wind brass knuckles around his fist, and get him to drag the villain around with a heavy chain - but nothing does the trick. Siva's "angst" isn't good enough, and there's no flourish to his revenge. Naga Chaitanya looks unconvinced about it all himself, and doesn't even try to be rough-and-tough.
Prabhu, Mukul Dev and Kota make a few scenes watchable, and meanwhile, the respectable Ashok Kumar, playing the goons' lawyer, looks a little embarrassed to be caught in this. The rest of the actors, including Ajay, aren't intense enough.
Amala Paul seems expressive, but her scenes are out-of-place in the film. In fact, the Siva-Geeta romance is pretty much a joke, and prompts much jeering and booing from the audience.
For a movie whose title is suggestive of a strong Andhra local connect, Bejawada has no Telugu
soul. Actors are either limited by diction, or are not even from AP. While Naga Chaitanya and Ajay deliver lines the best way they can, they are light years away from being as articulate as Kota Srinivasa Rao, who happens to be Bejawada's only ray of hope (Prabhu could have been one, too, but for the fact that he is so rudely cut off from the proceedings). Horrendous dubbing for the rest of the cast adds to your woes - this could have been a film dubbed from Konkani, for all you care.
Bejawada also scores low on the visuals, shot as it is in home-video quality. This may be a deliberate style, and if it is, it is not working. The music is character-less, and the songs are ill-placed and irrelevant.
We'd still have been kinder to the film, but the ridiculous ending involving Siva, in all seriousness, striking a Durgamma pose over the villain's bloodied corpse, did the trick.