Darling looks like the work of someone who has studied formula so closely he knows it grain by grain and assumes people will be thoroughly impressed merely because it's been studied. However, substituting colour for substance and star power for script is not formula - it is a convenient mid-summer excuse for a film.
This one is a romantic comedy with all the "elements". The superhumanly strong and agile Prabhas (Prabhas) had the hots for his father's classmate's daughter Nandini (Kajal Aggarwal) when he was a child. Now, he rejects a junior (Shraddha Das) from college who proposes to him, and her goonda father (Mukesh Rishi) is livid. Prabhas pacifies him with an account of his love story - that he had run into Nandini her in Switzerland, that he's waiting for her, and that that's why he cannot marry his daughter.
Now, Prabhas' father (Prabhu) is one among a bunch of thick pals from college (Chandramohan, MS, Dharmavarapu, Ahuti Prasad, etc.) who keep having re-unions every year. The entire cast of the movie then pushes off to Araku, where there is a mega-gathering of families. The rest of the story is about how the couple gets together.
The first half of the movie traces Prabhas and his friends frolicking their way through Swiss locales and Prabhas wooing Nandini, while the second half is a family-buffered re-romance between the two. And somehow, even with so many props, the love story has hardly any intensity.
The whole story is a string of one juvenile incident or conflict after another, and wherever the plot is not predictable it is downright ridiculous. Then, though there's not much by way of brawn and gore, even the little violence present in Darling seems well avoidable and out of place.
But like a gravy that saves the day when hardened nuggets of kofta threaten to bring your meal down to the dumps, what works in Darling's favour are the hero's sidekicks. Led by Srinivas Reddy, this bunch of cronies is armed with some delightful comedy that serves to resuscitate an otherwise lazy script devoid of powerful dialogues. Though the actual streaks of comic brilliance are too few and far between, there's an air of light-heartedness throughout the flick that keeps the mood going.
Prabhas visibly has fun throughout the flick, though his wardrobe designer has a few questions he might have to ask of himself. Kajal puts up an expert show as the chirpy Nandini, especially in the Switzerland half of the movie, and is quite a post-Trisha phenomenon where such roles are concerned.
And like we said, the hero's buddies are a fun pack, delivering some wacky yet clean humour that lets the film sail through. The elder members of the cast have pretty boring roles, but Tulasi, in particular, overacts to the hilt.
Cheerful cinematography makes this a rather pleasant watch, and the songs are pretty engaging as well.
Well, in sum, the weather outside might draw you in, even if much else doesn't.