Much like a Jenga tower, Mogudu commands your admiration at the balance that its director achieves despite the asymmetry and the threat of a fatal collapse. And much like a Jenga tower, it crash-lands oh-so-painfully, in the way that only makes you go "Ah, I thought so."
What could have been a graceful, heart-warming treatise on the beauty of the institution of marriage turns out to be a disappointing, unfulfilling anecdote of a newly-wedded husband and a wife dealing with an unpleasant family fracas.
This could at least have been like one of those Srikanth/Ramyakrishna/Ravali movies of the '90s that were based on marriage, but it isn't. Those movies had a homogenous feel throughout their run-time. Mogudu has inconsistent texture, what with its attempts at being family fare, and, at the same time, at trying to "fit in".
Very briefly, here's the story. Ramprasad (Gopichand) and Rajeswari (Taapsee) fall in love and decide to get married. A charming romance and a delightful wedding sequence later, all isn't as well as the families expect.
Some illogical scenes, a ridiculous pre-interval slap-fest, and a half-baked climax all ruin the show. And there's a lot of beeping of dialogues (some of them evidently explicit about sex) - which must be a relief for the zillions of parents who brought their kids along to the movie. Taapsee's ineptness as an actress also gets in the way, since she has a solid role to play in the whole film.
Krishnavamsi's screenplay has an elegance about it - this is true whether he is putting together a warm, bubbly family scene, or a sexy romantic song - and that is one of the things that work for the movie. The attention to detail in emotion and sentiment as much as in the production design is what makes many of Mogudu's scenes interesting.
Krishnavamsi's other triumph is in his almost-perfect casting. It's disappointing to see Gopichand confined to the role of a husband (and they still try to make up for it by letting the camera ogle at him and giving him a few fights), but he's quite a natural. An attempt at a change in image, perhaps? Good for him if he's walking the road to versatility.
And unnerving as it is to see Rajendra Prasad keep roaring and picking up his sickle, he is flawless as Prasad, who is a social figure highly revered for his righteousness. Needless to say, he stars in a few priceless moments of dignity in the film.
Naresh is given too little, and Roja keeps playing the spitfire lady politician too often, but they are both good. The supporting cast, including Shraddha Das, is pretty flawless. Meanwhile, it's nice to see the Gullu Dada team (Aziz Nasser etc.) - and to know that these actors are being featured in mainstream movie such as this.
Taapsee certainly is earnest, but has a long way to go before she can take up a histrionics-oriented role such as this. Emotional scenes are visibly out of her league, and her dubbing for herself (a good sign in a time of only two women dubbing for the entire film industry) isn't helping.
The music is well-composed and the songs are nicely choreographed. The inappropriate engagement song is quite puzzling, though. The cinematography is impressive.
In all, there's a lot more that could have been done with Mogudu to make it a wholesome, mushy family film. Like changing the title to something more polite, for example. Watch it if you're a Gopichand/Taapsee fan, else skip it.