We enter the movie hall to an air thrumming with the tangible excitement of people who have come prepared for a good time. It is only to be expected. Shekhar Kammula has mastered, and then some, the art of a certain brand of idyllia that has people coming back for more.
It isn't that those residing in his little bit of Utopia don't face any problems. Or even that they are perfect. In fact, they're all eminently human, with human flaws and joys and sorrows. What makes this world Utopian is the belief it manages to instill amongst its viewers that hell, high water, Scylla-Charybdis situations or treacherous Sirens notwithstanding, life really is beautiful and everything is going to be alright.
So you have Srinu (Abhijeet Duddala) who, along with his two little sisters, is packed off to Hyderabad by his mysteriously insistent mother (Amala Akkineni). He makes for an interesting subject as you watch him grapple with the sudden responsibility of taking care of his sisters, and of gaining a stable career.
Then there is Nagaraj (Sudhakar Komakula), the footloose and fancy-free son of a Qualis driver who is constantly harangued by his father to make something of himself.
And finally you have Abhi (Kaushik), a genius who takes the art of being a smart-alec to all new heights, who constantly gets into trouble by virtue of his audacious tongue, and finds love far beyond his reach.
All three reside in the Sunshine Valley, which is bifurcated into the middle-class B-Phase and the Gold Phase which is populated by those with golden spoons firmly stuck in their mouths.
What follows is a delightful story that tells you of the travails of refreshingly ordinary people as they work their way through the maze formed by the cornerstones of life - career, love, family, society, celebration, and conflicts.
The residents of B-Phase have a wonderful sense of community that incorporates more than a touch of nostalgia and wishful-thinking. The portrayal of the affluent Gold Phase dwellers as a brashly entitled lot is rather jarring, but the director redeems himself towards the end.
Now for the characters. The newcomers, for the most part, do full justice to their characters. Anjala Zaveri, although extremely attractive and competent as an actress, is more window dressing than an important character. Amala Akkineni makes her presence felt in the short time that she occupies screen space. Shriya Saran, as the rich girl with a heart of gold, is as convincing as she is gorgeous even though she looks a tad too polished amongst a cast that is mostly occupied by newcomers.
The most noteworthy character is the little girl who plays Srinu's younger sister. This writer is not ashamed to confess that she might have shed more than a tear or two (read: bawled her eyes out) as she watched the adorable little girl give an emotion-clogged speech on her mother.
The music by Mickey J. Meyer, although pleasant, isn't something you're going to find yourself humming ten years from now. Lyrics by Veturi, which brought to life the music in all of Kammula's earlier movies, are sorely missed. May that man's poetic soul rest in peace.
The movie is lovely to look at as the cinematography by Vijay C. Kumar perfectly complements Thotta Tharani's beautifully created sets.
Like with every Kammula movie, you find yourself laughing here, shedding a tear there, or even thoughtful at times. Our only grouse with the movie is an ending that doesn't quite manage to tie up all the loose ends.