Once upon a time, a Rajendra Prasad film was a true Vivaaha Bhojanambu. You’d find the entire pantheon of Telugu comic gods there – Velu, Veerabhadra Rao, Kota, Brahmanandam, Rallapalli, Tulasi, Subhalekha Sudhakar, Chandramohan, Nirmala, Gollapudi, Giri Babu… the works. The scripts were innovative, the exchanges were hilarious, the idiosyncrasies were uniquely side-splitting. These were movies for the entire family, and you were willing to write a testimonial at the end.
Once upon a time.
It must be tough to be in Rajendra Prasad’s shoes now – the script-writers are gone, the dialogue-writers are gone, the co-actors are gone, the budgets are gone and, alas, the market seems to be gone. What you have left seems to be a man who is overweight, painted all over, inspiring pity for his attempts to rummage in the ruins of a period that has passed by …and singing songs touching women at all the wrong places.
Iddaru Atthala Muddula Alludu is so low-budget, you’re surprised they spent money on the reel to show the titles. The entire film is shot in lesser outdoors than an average episode of an ETV serial, and perhaps lesser money. The scrimping extends into even whoever they hired to write the script and the dialogues, which is the entire pity.
Anyway, Balu (Rajendra Prasad) is an aspiring singer who comes to Hyderabad and meets up with his uncle Chandra (Suman), who has 2 wives (Sita and Kovai Sarala) who stay in neighbouring bungalows, and who hate each other. Chandra splits his time between them, and tells Balu to work as a servant in his houses so his wives do not consider him a burden.
Balu is street-smart and quickly ingratiates himself with both of them – and his heroics (yes, this one has Rajendra Prasad as an action hero) win over the daughters (Harathi and Keerthi Chawla), both of whom want to marry him.
Each of the wives takes it up as a personal challenge to get Balu to marry her daughter, and, unable to decide what to do, Balu and Chandra hatch a plot where Balu tells them that Chandra has committed suicide.
The wives are shattered, and, after being made to leave their bungalows by the finance companies which Chandra had borrowed from, move to a small house that Balu has searched for them. There the women bond, and the daughters get pally enough where each wants to sacrifice Balu for the other, causing a completely different problem now.
The film doesn’t have enough of the funny lines that characterize a pure-comedy film, nor the cast. Venu Madhav is the only other reputed comic actor, though he is in a completely independant and brief side-track. Kovai Sarala has a few moments, but what strikes you most about the film is the complete TV serial look.
It’s hard to see where Rajendra Prasad goes in his career. Does he migrate into the kind of roles he did in Hitler? Does he coalesce into the group of Chandra Mohan and SPB in becoming a father? Does he turn a character artist? Will people accept him in any of these? It all depends perhaps on a good director who finds him.
Until then, the erstwhile king should perhaps concentrate only on keeping old memories intact, instead of acting in films whose main theater will be Amaravathi.