We don't know what exactly Keka intended to be, but hopefully, laughing at itself was not on its agenda. Hopefully, the script-bumbling was not intentional. Hopefully, the emotional confrontations were meant to be serious and not a spoof of cliched scenes in films. Hopefully, the heroine really hammed and she was not trying to make fun of other heroines. Else, we've been had.
Keka, they screamed, would be another block-buster. And what do they have to show for it? Like we said, we could not (and would definitely not!) put our finger on it, but sore throat for the audiences would not be far off the mark. And stuffy head-colds. This film looks like the effort of someone with cotton-wool stuffed in the space between their ears, anyway.
Keka starts in Kolkata (where else do runaway Telugu heroes run away to?), where Arjun teaches music at a home for street children. One day a TV channel captures the good work he's doing, and people in Hyderabad watch the show, and his life gets complicated - goons start attempting to kill him, which, yes, leads to the flashback.
Arjun (Raja) and Sujatha (Ishana) meet while on their respective vacations at their village. They fall in love, but part ways again, not knowing where each other has gone (let's say we are all a bit tired of trying not to imagine two young people on the throes of an affair, not exchange phone numbers). Now, back home, Arjun's best friend Kiran (Anup) is engaged to be married to a girl, who, it turns out, is Sujatha.
When Sujatha is forced to enrol in the same college as that of her fiance, she resists. That is, until she realizes Arjun is in the same place. So thrilled is Sujatha to find him that she resumes their affair, assuring the reluctant Arjun that it's okay, even if it's happening behind his best-friend's back. Notice the bold but emotional touch.
Later, she emotes a bit and orders him to tell his best friend about their affair, because, does he not understand what she is going through? When Arjun tells him all, Kiran is very co-operative. So co-operative that one day Kiran tells Arjun how he took beatings from his dad for telling him the truth about his complicity in his fiancee's affair. He also tells him that his dad hurting him is not the fault of Kiran or Sujatha or Arjun, but the fault of the belt with which he beat him up, and that he will now book a police case against the belt. No, we are not making this up.
Next, Kiran attempts to hang himself with the belt, which impresses both Arjun and Sujatha, because by some convoluted logic, they conclude that the reason he did so was that he wanted to be out of the scene so that they both could get married. Arjun realizes what a great friend and lover Kiran actually is, and suggests to Sujatha that Kiran is the one she should be marrying. This is where Sujatha starts emoting again, and you become very conscious of the fact that this is surely not what you paid to watch, or worse, hear.
Because Ishana's entire range of acting, whether mischievous or despondent, solely consists of clenching all her facial muscles to the point of breakage. And that is just 10% of what is amusing about her. The rest is due to whoever dubbed for her - think Rajendra Prasad's womanly falsetto in Madam, and you will get the picture.
Arjun then hides from Sujatha and informs his mother that he wants to go away somewhere. He runs to the railway station where he is hunted down by Sujatha, who is now emoting on full blast. Here, she slightly expands her acting range by tripping on her skirt in the station.
End of flashback. After the discovery of Arjun's whereabouts, Kiran takes Sujatha to Kolkata to reunite her with her lover, but he (Kiran) has long since turned villain, and so plots to make Sujatha hate Arjun. Meanwhile, Arjun's street children's fund-raising performance has its own share of (yawn) troubles. All this, and the fact that Arjun has now grown more hair than King Kong, is too much for Sujatha to handle. With the result that her emoting finally tones down. Anyway, the film has now reached the end, with the aid of the sensationally ingenious theme-trick of the movie - one that involves connecting a stethoscope to a speaker.
The beginning of the film sounded interesting, with the street children angle and the Bengali touch. It could be a little tough, though, if you do not follow Bengali, or cannot read Telugu sub-titles at lightning speed. Sometime before the interval, the film starts behaving like a mockery of itself. The silliness builds up in a geometric progression, blowing away the entire second half. The fund-raiser performance, which has street kids pitted against elite school-children, is just one of the many cliched scenes.
The dialogues are ridiculously inane. And we are talking about the scenes where the actors are weeping. There is a comedy track that involves a loud (read REALLY REALLY LOUD) Kannamba impersonation. As if, sheepishly, the director finally decided to connect his film to the title.
The music doesn't do much to help the film - there are only two nice songs, and one of them is inspired by an Ilayaraja number from Geetanjali. The songs are interestingly shot, though.
The only person who stands to gain anything from this film is Raja, because it is only his hard work that shows. The rest, like the people who go watch the film, do not deserve much even in the order of sympathy.