Death may be a great leveller, but to really snuff a man out, there’s nothing like serial failure. The Teja of today is far less cocky – heck, almost humble – as you’d have made out from the promos of this one. The name doesn’t appear on the posters in almost the same font size as that of the movie itself (remember "Teja Dhairyam"?). He doesn’t seem to get in the news for any wrong reasons any more. And in the ultimate sign of conformity with the Telugu film industry, even his
movies now have lines about vamsam
One last change, however, seems beyond even him. And that is, ceasing to make almost every movie with exactly the same formula. Teja is perhaps at heart, one of the teeming masses who sit in the front rows and are driven completely by simple emotions. They want a haughty heroine outsmarted and tamed by the working class hero and then completely in love with him. They want the hero to be able to constantly upstage and brutally beat up the villians to save his girl. If you give them this in the right manner, they will overlook all else and suspend all reasoning.
His speciality lay in being able to do this well through good screenplay – a brisk pace, creating loathsome but fearsome villians, situations that got the audiences whistling as the hero came at the right time and broke the bones of the goons (think Jayam
, when the hero arrives exactly at 7pm as promised – no one understands how, but no one cares), loaded dialogues – and good comedy and music.
But there’s only so many times that you can present the same thing in different ways. Lakshmi Kalyanam is more of the same, and while it is above the average Telugu film fare, it cannot make you recommend it. The story unravels thus – uneducated farmer Ramu (Kalyan Ram) loves his cousin Lakshmi (Kajal), the daughter of his rich maternal uncle (Sayaji Shinde) who hates him. When Chinna (Ajay), a vicious powerful baddie from the neighbouring village, gets fresh with Lakshmi, Ramu beats up him and his henchmen.
Lakshmi’s scheming father then betroths her to Chinna under the pretext that that wedding would help unite the two warring villages, and extracts a promise from Ramu in front of the entire village that if he really loves Lakshmi, he should help in the wedding. And Ramu will never break a promise.
No other movie of Teja matched up in sheer creative standard to his debut, Chitram
– it’s been all cliché after that. This one is no different. The tale is ho-hum and the fights are more brutal than ever. While the reels chug along pretty energetically and the visuals are professional, the film keeps you tense most of the time – the triumphant moments are far fewer than all the moments when everything looks bleak for the lead pair. That’s a big negative – people go to a movie to relax, not get strung.
Kalyan Ram is okay-okay. Surprisingly for a Teja film, there are several references to how great his vamsam
is – Teja was perhaps the only mainstream director who dared cock a snook at Tollywood conventions. He seems to want to make amends for the references when Sayaji Shinde mouths a line about how it is not what your thatha
have done but what you
Kajal looks fresh and cherubic in her langa-voni
attire. Sayaji Shinde does well, but the best lines are mouthed by Ajay in the Vacchaamaa
series. The music (R P Patnaik) will do well if the film itself does well – there are a few good tunes, especially the last one that alternates between dead and hyper-active. The major problem with the film is the lack of enough comedy – Teja’s forté in the first few movies – to balance all the tension.
Lakshmi Kalyanam is not a must-watch, depending upon your definition of not a must-watch.