You know a film is gleefully smashing its way down to the pits, when its idea of comedy involves Raghu Babu getting a piles operation by mistake, and its idea of drama involves making K Viswanath scowl and occasionally spout what can safely be called the worst lines in his career.
As engaging as watching a soaked washcloth dry, Manchivadu is a film that spends 2.5 hours telling us about a young man who tries hard to woo the love of his life and then does not get the girl. This squished-up fairy tale is delivered to you with the finesse of a cow trying to read the paper, with the pride of the parents of a 4-year-old who has just finished reciting the 13 table.
Leading the pack is Raja (Tanish), an illiterate village bumpkin who happens to be the grandson of the highly-revered Dasaratha Rao (K Viswanath). Raja's grandpa hates his boorish ways, his guts, his inability to do anything with his life - and clearly, most of all, being in this film.
Now Raja falls in love with his foreign-educated maradalu, the stunningly stupid Indu (Bhama). In addition, his smart and educated younger brother Ramesh is in the running for her hand, too. Since Raja doesn't have the skills to court her in conventional ways, he starts off a drama involving a fake girlfriend.
He gains Indu's sympathy and admiration through the drama, and even starts working in a job to impress her. But just when Raja thinks he's taking the prize home, Indu tells him that she loves Ramesh and wants to marry him. As if this weren't lousy enough news, she even tells him that Raja inspired her to love Ramesh.
In the next scene, their grandfather tells Indu that she's the reason Raja is a changed man, and that he (the grandfather) would like her to marry him (Raja). Now, Raja doesn't want to marry her since he doesn't want his grandpa's reputation to get muddied by way of a marriage that the bride would be unhappy with.
Amateurishly made and badly-directed, Manchivadu is the work of a bunch of people who either who don't care or seriously lack talent. Cliches, immature characters and silly dialogue dominate the script. And of course, the whole thing has no point when the hero doesn't even get the girl.
Tanish has talent, but is clearly being stuck in a rut. It's too early for him to cling to a single style, be it looks or acting - and he must work on his diction first. Bhama, the heroine of this flick, seems generally clueless about things.
Raghu Babu provides a couple of chuckles, and the senior actors all do pretty well, but it's sad to see K Viswanath and Jayanthi (gorgeous as ever) put in sincere work in a film that breathes mediocrity in every frame.
Barring the song copied from Raja Hindustani, the music is pretty jarring, and some of the numbers are the acoustic equivalent of bad patchwork done in a hurry. The visuals are sad as well.
This movie was made just so certain people - and the name of certain other people - could be seen on screen. If you're nowhere in the list, celebrate.