And half a star there is for pain-stakingly incorporating just about every cliché ever in Telugu films.
Yogi looks like a film targetting people who went to sleep in early-1980 and woke up just now. And it will send them right back to sleep. It is so old-fashionedly melodramatic and so full of the exaggerated movie-family expressiveness of the period, it's an embarassment to current Telugu cinema as such. Some of the sentimental scenes are so in-your-face and contrived, you'll squirm in awkwardness even if you are completely alone in the theater. And if you do not watch this soon, you probably will be.
Eeshwar Prasad (Prabhas) is a village simpleton who wants to earn money to buy a pair of golden bangles for his mother Santhamma (Sarada) when his father (Chalapathi Rao) dies. He leaves for Hyderabad to do this, but a turn of events converts him into a big goon Yogi, who the entire city dreads.
Santhamma comes to Hyderabad searching for her son with no details of his address, and runs into Archana (Nayantara), a journalism student, who asks her to stay with her. The film then shows almost every cliché in Indian film history as the mother and son repeatedly keep passing within inches of each other but do not see each other. It feels, like we said, like you are watching a 1980 film.
The rest of the film deals with Yogi's wars with the gang ruling the city led by Saidulu (Subbaraju) and his mentor (Kota Srinivasa Rao), to protect the poor from them. It keeps getting interspersed with the mother-son sentimental thread, which manages to make even Sarada look bad. The scenes are so shabbily written, it looks like she's overacting. And anything other than stern looks is not among Prabhas' strong points, which makes this whole senti thing too heavy-duty for him to emote.
The wasted potential of Yogi is exemplified by the gross misuse of the heroine. The romance isn't there at all. We're not talking about esoteric, movie-criticish words like chemistry and soul - there is simply no romance. Yogi doesn't save Archana from any goons, they never fall in love, they never have any mushy conversations. She just imagines 4 duets with him, that's it. As she keeps stepping in 30 seconds before every song, it's so formulaic, it's sickens you.
Vinayak tries to make this an action-cum-sentimental tale, thereby widening the spectrum of potential audiences. Both are disasters. The action parts hardly make you resonate with them, and the anachronistic sentimental scenes make you feel embarassed with your own company, an example being a scene where Prabhas gets on top of a tree and Sarada starts dancing below. When you are making a 60-year-old woman dance, there has to be enormous thought in making it tasteful or even tolerable.
Yogi has no strong scenes, no strong villian, no strong heroine, and no strong hero. This film is primarily a script/creative/direction disaster, but Prabhas is still too much of a rookie for roles with elaborate emotional nuances. Nayantara has nothing to do. Sarada's plight is worse - she has to look childish.
The primary entertainer is Venu Madhav - he makes you split your sides. A spoof on Aparichitudu (yes, this thing is done to death, but to prevent you from making that observation, they make it themselves) with Sunil is riotous. The music will be forgotten faster than the film itself.
Vinayak is perhaps drawing the wrong lessons from his previous successes. Even high-grossing films have their negative points - they work since the positives outweigh the negatives. Putting the wrong reasons at the center of the radar screen and making new films around them is always risky.
With the exception of Tagore, Vinayak has been strictly conventional and "mass". His films depend on heavy-duty dialogues, bloodshed, and a hypothesis of what people in the outskirts and people in the B and C centers want to see. You can pull that off with some of the heroes, some of the time. If these successes teach lessons that are increasingly simplistic - as reflected in the script for Yogi - it can hurt.
Watch this if you need to, but hire a specialist first to help you lower your standards.Also read: Lakshmi