Using songs in taking a story forward is an art by itself. And Sukumar has shown in his movies that he is a pastmaster at that. In 100% Love
, songs were used beautifully to move the story ahead or introduce us to his characters. Arya
had songs that became classics as they explained to us the dilemma faced by the lead character and his philosophy in life.
Even in Nannaku Prematho, the Follow Follow song is picturized nicely telling us how the hero simply followed the heroine to her destination. And then comes a song in the second half. Exactly after a scene that is supposed to take your emotions to a high, exactly where you expect the narrative to take a twist that will take the tale forward in a way you did not imagine, Sukumar decides to cut away to a song. A song in an Arabian harem-style setting with the hero and heroine dancing to lyrics that go Aleba Aleba. And that is where you have the epiphany that when a director takes a hero with an image, he has to satisfy the latter's fans. Even at the cost of his own creativity and story. So when judging this one, maybe we should all cut Sukumar some slack.
Nannaku Prematho is a revenge story where one man vows to bring down the empire of a rich and ruthless businessman who had cheated his father eons ago. Abhiram (Jr. NTR) is the son of a man he's known as Subramaniam (Rajendra Prasad) all his life. When Subramaniam contracts cancer, he reveals that his real name is Ramesh Chandra Prasad and that he had to change his identity after being cheated by Krishnamurthy (Jagapathi Babu). Now Ramesh Chandra Prasad has 30 days to live, and Abhiram vows that he will destroy Krishnamurthy's business empire in those 30 days. With both Abhiram and Krishnamurthy being supremely intelligent people, the stage is set beautifully for a great game of one-upmanship.
What ensues, however, is a game that sees ups and downs - ups when Sukumar shows his good side and downs whenever he bows down to the diktats of Telugu cinema. The story almost moves in an Abbas-Mastan-esque fashion. Every time you think one of the characters has the upper hand, the other gains the upper hand, and you are left stumped. If you do sit down to think in detail about the movie, there are glaring flaws that will show up - NTR feels like superman at times and his mathematical abilities stun the audience through the movie - but Sukumar overcomes that by not allowing you time to think.
Nannaku Prematho sees NTR cut down on the histrionics and put in a subdued performance. He dances as required and the fights are also not of the superhuman variety. Jagapati Babu gives a smooth performance as an understated villain who matches the hero move by move. Rakul Preet Singh does a good job and even dubs her own voice. Rajendra Prasad and Rajeev Kanakala get the other meaty parts, and are their usual reliable selves.
The songs are decent, but they interrupt the flow of the movie. DSP does a good job with the background music. The visuals are brilliant and the dull greys of a rainy London are captured in all their beauty.
Nannaku Prematho is not an easily palatable dish. It has its moments and is certainly very different when compared to regular Telugu movies, but some might find it extremely far-fetched. Go with an open mind - we are not sure what to advise you on this one.