Some years back, there was an erroneous story floating around that in Chinese a certain word meant both "danger" and "opportunity". Even though it wasn't interpreted correctly, that two-in-one word is something that the makers of Munna would have probably found useful to describe their predicament.
On the one hand, after 4 hits on the trot, 'Dil' Raju would have to ensure that his latest offering lives up to the expectations leading up to the release. This is never an easy ask - just talk to a bunch of guys who have recently returned from a brief Caribbean holiday. On the other hand, the buzz around Munna ensured that even before the movie released, it had a degree of momentum which could serve it well in the weeks. After all, not too many aficionados will pass up a Raju / Harris Jairaj / Prabhas / Ileana combo offer.
Munna (Prabhas), a kid with no one to look after him, arrives in the city. He grows up in a charitable institution, and gets admitted to college on a scholarship. Throughout this time, we are given to understand that he has a deeply troubled past, which causes him to try and inflict damage on the Kaka group of companies from time to time.
The Kaka (Prakash Raj) in question is a criminal kingpin who has made life hell for everyone around. The honest chief minister Srinivasa Rao (Kota Srinivasa Rao) tries to stop Kaka, but is unable to because Kaka has all the other politicians, policemen and the media either in his pocket, or at the wrong end of his 9mm automatic.
Munna goes about college trying to avoid trouble and Nidhi (Ileana), who is starting to like his style (and possibly his brooding hulk) quite a bit. When he finds out that Kaka's son is studying in the same college, and is a pest to boot, Munna ends up having the inevitable confrontations with him.
When Srinivasa Rao is murdered, Munna finds the evidence which makes Kaka's arrest possible. Kaka instantaneously gets out of custody, but with the help of the respected local chaiwallah
Kasim (Tanikella Bharani), Munna embarks on tearing Kaka's life apart. A flashback to his childhood reveals the reason behind Munna's glowering rage. If you want to find out how he hustles things to their inevitable, red-color-laced conclusion, you will have to watch the second half.
In some ways, Munna is like one of those mythical animals you see in temple carvings - part this, part that and part the other, yet with an identity of its own. A smidgen of Shiva
, a pinch of Pokiri
, and (incredible as it sounds) an ounce of Oedipus Rex
, and what have you. Figure that one out.
Prabhas is decent as the smoldering volcano seeking to erupt in stages over the hapless realm of Kaka. At times he appears to consciously or unconsciously model his character after the one and only Pokiri, especially in his dealings with Nidhi. But the Munna character is more outspoken, and he falls just short of hitting the high notes in the more theatrical scenes.
Ileana doesn't have much to do at all unfortunately, beyond falling for Munna gradually and showing up for the songs (and may their tribe increase). Her dubbing isn't so great - whoever did it was a bit too
sugary sweet, bordering on insanely annoying. Also, if Ileana is reading this review, may we be so bold as to make a recommendation? As befits the heartthrob of Tollywood, please try and pick up some Telugu so that the lips are in more in sync with the dialogue. That will be the icing on an appealing cake.
The action sequences are pretty slick, but are a bit over the top at times. The slam-dunking of a baddie in the basketball basket, and the Matrix style emission of a dozen goons from the hero's vicinity are a bit too much to stomach. The music by Harris Jairaj registers, but with the exception of the chart-topping Manasa, is not really outstanding. There is a disconcerting feeling that some of the tunes and beats are a bit generic and interchangeable.
The first half of Munna does not venture too far beyond Shiva, and that is its main strength. In the second half there is a bit of lost wandering (especially in a sequence with Kaka's wife and daughter) that could have been avoided, and the ending is a bit hasty and unconvincing.
Munna is perhaps worth a watch for those seeking a testosterone high. Its fate depends less on its own merit and more on the kind of competing attractions at the box office in future weeks.