Three words: Bunty Aur Babli
. Actually, about three dozen more - Bunty Aur Babli minus the surprises, the cast, kajra re
, Gulzar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and just about everything that made that movie a hit. Also, add about 30-45 minutes of surplus fat in terms of duration, and a slightly tacky, low budget, feel.
Not that it's so
bad that it's unwatchable. Bhale Dongalu is definitely easier on the eyes and ears than, say, Poramboku
. But that's a bit like saying it's preferable to die of natural causes than of snakebite.
The storyline isn't a state secret - and the first half is a decently high-fidelity carbon copy of the original. Ramu (Tarun) and Jyoti (Ileana) are small-town youngsters with big dreams (business and modeling respectively). Unable to stomach what their middle class parents have decided for them, they run away to the city.
Both are hoodwinked by all and sundry, and out of money and at their wits' ends, they take on new names (Romeo & Juliet) and take to a life of conning and duplicity. On the way, they run into a little fatherless girl who is being taken to the hospital for a life-saving, expensive surgical procedure. Since they are good folks at heart, they decide to help the girl by finding the money.
In the process of progressing towards their vision and mission, they run foul of Veeraraju (Pradeep Rawat), the local don, and supplier of drugs and curiously flat villain monologues. They also run into the bitter and hot-headed DCP Yugandhar (Jagapati Babu), and all the pieces are in place.
That's it, there's not much more. There's that slightly worn feel to the whole movie, as though it's been dragged out of a dusty godown and dressed up in a hurry. Bunty and Babli pulled off gigantic capers (the Taj Mahal sale, for one) where the numbers in the balance sheet ran into crores. Romeo and Juliet manage only the odd few lakhs here and there, and given how the economy and inflation have boomed since 2005, it's surely reasonable to expect more.
For all their classical pseudonyms, there is a distinct lack of spark between Romeo and Juliet; they seem to fall for each other more by default than anything else. While Tarun and Ileana are passable at best, Pradeep Rawat comes across as a slightly lame bad guy. Too dour for a villain in a comedy, and too meek for an action movie.
Jagapati Babu brings some panache to the proceedings - his DCP is somewhere between the disgruntled Amitabh of the original and the whimsical cop in Anukokunda Oka Roju
. The comedy works in patches, there are quite a few one-liners (and some amount of double entendre) that induce chuckles.
All of this is generally lost in the Gobi Desert of a script (the parts that aren't directly ripped off, that is). The music is nothing to write home about (except when flicked from Gupt
), as are the dances and the action. If BnB was like a long deep gulp of ice cold fizzy drink, Bhale Dongalu is the same stuff that has been left sitting for a day in the open sun at Ramoji Film City.
Whether you like Bhale Dongalu or not depends mostly on whether you've seen Bunty Aur Babli and whether you liked it. If you haven't seen the original, then this one will possibly appear novel and entertaining, even if it's a bit of a drag. If you've seen BnB and didn't think it was the cat's whiskers, give this one a miss. Ditto if you're going only in the hope of an, ah, Ileana darshan