Reading the interviews of the cast and crew of any movie is, as you are perhaps painfully aware, the wrong thing to do. It just raises expectations, and then when you watch the movie, it might make you laugh at the most inopportune moments.
Actor Nikhil, in the interviews for Sankarabharanam, said that he lived with NRIs and studied their body language to play his character in the movie. We watched the movie and realized that Nikhil's played the role exactly the way he played Surya in Surya Vs Surya
or Karthikeya in Karthikeya
. And that the role did not require any study of NRIs or the way they behaved. All it needed was a good hard look at some old Venkatesh movies (or at Phas Gaye Re Obama
upon which Sankarabharanam is based).
Then, Kona Venkat, the writer of Sankarabharanam, said that he wrote and encouraged this movie because he wanted writers to think out of the box and give different scripts. A few minutes into this film, you realize that what he meant by that was that he wanted writers to copy Hindi movies. He also mentioned that there is a reason they named this movie Sankarabharanam, and that he had utmost respect for the old classic. Ten minutes into the film you hear the word for the first time, and you realize again that the title is nothing but a gimmick.
Sankarabharanam, in spite of all of the denials issued by the team, is a freemake of Phas Gaye Re Obama. Gautam (Nikhil Siddhartha) plays an NRI who comes to Bihar to sell off his family's old castle named Sankarabharanam. Gautam's father has been cheated by his NRI partners and he needs the money to pay off the bank. When he reaches Bihar, he realizes that the castle is occupied by his relatives. While he is busy hoodwinking his relatives so he can sell the castle, three different gangs plan to kidnap Gautam thinking he has loads of money back home. How Nikhil escapes from these gangs and solves his family's problems forms the rest of the movie.
Sankarabharanam starts off decently and then rapidly slides towards mediocrity with an increasing number of "praasa kosam praanam teesestaaru" dialogues that characters utter without any rhyme or reason. Phas Gaye Re Obama was a smart little film that had great humor and little in terms of sentiment or crowd-pleasing scenes. Kona Venkat (writer and "direction supervisor") takes that smart little film, and adds loads of irrelevant comedy and loads of family sentiment. Unfortunately neither the humor nor the sentiment work, leaving you cold.
The film also runs for too long with the real plot beginning only in the second half. The songs are pretty irrelevant and are not great on your ears, either. The only plus for the movie is that it is funny in parts - especially when "Thirty Years" Prithvi gets his share of screentime.
Nikhil does his usual shtick while Nanditha (she of the big, emotive expressive eyes fame) barely gets a chance to express herself. There is a huge supporting cast including Anjali, Rao Ramesh, Suman, Sitara and several others, but they don't have much to do. Senior actors like Sanjay Mishra are wasted.
Technically, the film is nicely shot, and the landscapes of Bihar (or whatever is passed off as Bihar in the movie) are shown beautifully. The songs, as mentioned earlier, are merely excuses for loo-breaks.
Sankarabharanam kills two birds in one shot - i. e. tarnishes your memories of two good films. We'd recommend buying some popcorn at the theatre and just returning home, since that's going to be the only enjoyable thing anyway.