Stories of losers who go wrong everywhere have limited appeal. Stories of 30-somethings playing college dudes have limited appeal. Sivaji has limited appeal. Tragedies have limited appeal. Combining all of these formidable forces into one even bigger than the sum of its parts, Taj Mahal hopes to make it through the month at the box office.
So Ajay (Sivaji) is a college student who is wooing the rich Sruthi (Sruthi) big time. According to him, he's making major headway after 3 years of stalking her and saying "hi" to her a dozen times everyday - she finally knows his name. Unfortunately for him, she's already in love, a strange on-phone relationship with a caller called Kumar. Now Kumar is a person who she has never met, and of whom even Sruthi's father (Nasseer) wholeheartedly approves of.
Ajay inches his way to her friendship, and Sruthi, who knows that he's likely to propose to her any time, is prepared to gently refuse and tell him that she loves someone else. This is the part where one set of scriptwriters went out for a lunch break and never came back, and had a totally unrelated set of writers replacing them.
What follows is that Ajay professes his love to her in an incredibly pathetic way, in response to which Sruthi slaps him tight and gives him the usual tripe about how men can only think of "love" and keep cheating girls by making proposals.
In the rest of the story, Ajay must deal with the other lover, and his complex relationship with Sruthi, even as his buddies at college, including the canteen cook (Raghu Babu), try to pull him out of his manic obsession with her. Unfortunately, they can't, and his studies spiral infinitely downward. Then, Ajay must deal with his obligations to his family back home.
What you have in Taj Mahal is some good characterization and dialogues, a loudly-put message, and some comedy by Brahmanandam and MS in the beginning. What it also has is a story that gets less and less interesting by the minute. The Kannada original worked probably because it may have been sculpted out well, but we here are offered a rather bland script and mediocre treatment.
There are logical flaws and pointless scenes in the flick in abundance, but what hurtles Taj Mahal downward is how the hero is made to approach the object of his affection in every wrong way possible and exude gallons of self-pity. Even when there are sensible ways out of his dilemmas, he ends up willingly painting himself into a corner.
Sivaji doesn't look the part, and doesn't have the energy to get you to sympathize with his character. The heroine is pretty and talented, and it would be interesting to watch her in more films. Kota Srinivasa Rao has a meaty role in the second half, and Raghu Babu, MS and Brahmanandam are some other key players - seasoned actors who can't possibly get better.
Vizag forms most of Taj Mahal's setting, and as a result, the movie has a breezy feel. The music is pretty good, even if the tunes seem pretty repetitive and will never be chartbusters.
And the Taj Mahal is not even connected to the film. So clean up your list of expectations before you walk into this one.