The first thing that strikes you about Bhageeratha is that it's a rather long movie. A quarter short of three hours as the watch ticks, but much-much more as your jaded mind perceives. What is it with Tollywood directors nowadays that they seem to be bent upon redefining the concept of a movie? A movie is NOT a biographical documentary of the hero's life. A movie has an optimum running time that is closer to 2 hours. A movie has a story that you are supposed to think-up *before* you start directing it. And once you do, you are supposed to cut to the chase. Jump to it. Just get on with it!
Bhageeratha is Tollywood's latest example of seat-of-the-pants direction. Make-it-up-as-you-go-along scripting. As if the script-writer sat by a bonfire with his friends, over a bottle of scotch, and got into a story-telling competition and came up with Bhageeratha. Ravi Teja does rat-a-tat his way through like a machine gun, and the movie would have been much smoother sailing if this were his mono-act. But with a script meandering like a river distributary in a sand-locked delta, a good performance, even if it is the lead one, doesn't help.
The story goes as follows: Chandu and his dad Bullabbai live in a village Krishna Lanka, and Venkatratnam (Prakash Raj), who has been rescued from an accident and brought up by their family, is a great friend of theirs. A boat accident during a storm in the river kills dear ones in Bullebbai's family, and he extracts a promise from Venkatratnam that no matter what, he will get a bridge built across the river or never come back to town. Venkatratnam leaves town and disappears for many years.
Chandu sets out in search of him, but when he meets him, Venkatratnam has become KVR, a construction magnate, has forgotten his promises and attachment to the family, and has become a cruel fiend. But Bullabbai is suffering under the delusion that KVR will come back and build the bridge, and so Chandu decides to make it happen.
The making-it-happen process takes the second half of the movie, brings in Shweta (Shriya, KVR's daughter in disguise and Chandu's love interest), Jeeva and plenty of others. Jeeva, as Yadanna, has probably the most brilliant role alongside that of Ravi Teja. His arched eyebrows, bulging eyes and grisly smile do half the trick for him anyway, and the remaining he manages by slipping effortlessly into the role of a mafia don.
Ravi Teja's dialogues, rendered in strong dialect, slice like scythes through the dullness of the film. Spurned by KVR, he pulls one smart-alec feat after another and shrewdly builds his own construction empire, while simutaneously sabotaging KVR's. Ultimately he feigns Shweta's kidnapping to extract a commitment from KVR to build the bridge, as ransom.
Ravi Teja is the same old shrewd, crackerjack guy with Jedi senses and fighting skills that he played in his previous movies. Sunil and Venu Madhav manage to bring some original humor, but the funniest lines, too, belong to Teja.
You will watch this flick only for the dialect, the dialogues, and Ravi Teja's rasping-crude and funny delivery of these. Like the cherry you pick off a boring dessert, he sticks out appealingly, but alone. The rest of the movie, quite simply, is boring. And yes - gratuitously long.