Sundarakanda is a Bapu work in the genre of Pelli Pustakam - more poetry than prose, with plenty of compromise in grammar for the sake of rhyme. But Pelli Pustakam had a much more compelling theme - a newly-married couple forced to fake being single while living in the same house -, great performers, many awwww scenes and credible storyline, while Sundarakanda unfortunately lacks any of them.
Sure, the story, if narrated in one line, can sound equally promising - a young girl goes to find her rich father who's deserted her mother soon after marriage, and uses her intelligence to reunite them against the machinations of his hostile family. However, the execution needs too much suspension of logic - most of what she does is quite impractical.
Secondly, the father, an important character with plenty of screen time, is poorly written, and played by an unknown artist with no expressiveness, negating the great work done by Charmme. Then, the romance between Allari Naresh and Charmme is practically non-existent, putting too much pressure on the weak main theme with just Charmme to anchor it. It would have been fun if they found a male counterpart to match the brilliant girl that Charmme plays.
The film shows Annapurna (Charmme), a sprightly young girl who is brought up by her single mother (Prema), discovering that her father is a rich royal-blooded and still single upcoming politician Ram Gopal Varma (Sunil Sharma), and decides to unite her parents. She lands up at his bungalow and introduces herself to the family, and manages to stay there with the intervention of her father though the family hates it.
She then plots to bring down his political rival Koti (Kota Srinivasa Rao), showing brilliance far beyond that of an 18-year-old. Her wild plans work to perfection, and she always finds great lines to say. If you are feeling a loss of self-esteem at her genius, keep remembering that this is a movie. For things to work out like they do for her, you need a script-writer and a dialogue-writer, who write what the opponents will say and do too. Real life is somewhat different.
The film feels many times like a stage musical on screen rather than normal story-telling. People aren't amused by the weird antics and dialogue-delivery of other characters, but mostly respond in kind. The story almost seems an after-thought in the attempts to be lyrical, theatrical or funny. It's almost Bapu indulging himself. Arguably, it is creatively more satisfying to write a poem than prose. Unarguably, prose is what is commercially rewarding.
Charmme has a role that is almost a soliloquy, and she acts it out with panache, bringing Divyavani to mind. As the latest Bapu Bomma, she has a ball. There are no other notable performances aside of that by Kota, who gives what you've come to expect of him. The music has a couple of decent songs, including "EAMCET Devudu".
Sundarakanda is less than what you expect of Bapu, even if he stuck to his style in this day and age. We actually want that, for Telugu's sake - let's hope he bounces back.