If you look closely amidst the emotional chaos that is Orange, you'll find a coming of age of some of Tollywood's well-guarded beliefs. Somehow, it's refreshing to see the prejudice-shedding, stories that reflect a little room for change in thought, and much less self-righteousness than usual.
Bhaskar's latest film talks about what women call commitment-phobia and men call practicality. It has its problems - namely, that it is radiates cynicism and shows a lot of frivolity in telling the tale for the most part - but when it starts making sense, it does go somewhere.
Perhaps being set abroad and not in a place like Rayalaseema kind of frees up the plot of heavy accessories like traditional familial opposition. The story centres around Ram (Ram Charan Tej) and Janaki (Genelia), neither of whom agrees with the other on "how long" to "love".
It's unnerving for a while (a long while, actually) - Ram chases her around while blatantly telling her he's going to love her only for a brief period of time, while the girl is wary of being with a guy who she cannot have for keeps. Plus, having to watch Ram constantly "prove" how love never lasts forever, by showing dozens of examples of insecure couples around who seem so vulnerable to the taunts of a cynic, is not pleasant.
But then, what's interesting is the growing-up of the characters. For one, the heroine starts off being a silly teenager desperately in search of a boyfriend, to a more mature woman who starts realizing what she really wants. Matching her steps is the hero, who has his own personal journey of awakening and explanations for why he thinks the way he thinks.
It would have been nicer to see the emotional shifts happen much earlier in the story, or at least a more mature handling of the hang-ups of the characters. However, Bhaskar insists on draining to the last drop Genelia's capability to behave like an excited mouse in Disney Land, desperately needing a tranquilizer.
The woman shrieks and squeals and scowls and giggles insanely for the whole of the first half, until you're exhausted. This is "comedy", by the way; and if not helped along by Bramanandam it would have been tough to sit through. She ceases to ham in the second half, though, during which she has competition in the form of a pleasant Shahzan Padamsee.
Which brings us to one thing about Telugu cinema that refuses to change - that the leading man gets to be less ridiculous. Ram Charan Tej has a more saner presence than Genelia, devours his role, is good with the comedy, has improved as an actor, and is actually in control of the movie. He looks like a thorough professional now.
There are interesting but less-developed characters on the side all of whom are played pretty well - Prabhu, who plays Jaanu's father; Avarasarala Srinivas as her long-time admirer; Manjula, who plays Ram's sister; and Nagendra Babu, who plays a neighbor solely planted to demonstrate Ram's opinions on how love sucks. Vennela Kishore is given a measly set of comic lines, but this could be his biggest break so far.
And Harris Jayraj's tunes, a crisp set of visuals and uber-stylized characters are quite fun to be with.
On the whole, the film tends to look confused and shaky in its fundamentals, and Bhaskar could have chosen a more streamlined way of telling his story, but for what it's worth, Orange seems a decent step out of the clutter.