Well, at least they're not calling it love right from the start, wisely choosing, instead, to call normal teenage hormonal surges what they ought to be until tested thoroughly - infatuation. 100 Percent Love quotes the Freudian definition of infatuation an umpteen number of times, and gets a few concepts right. But then, not all is well.
Sukumar, who is known to infuse his male protagonists' characters with creepy shades, turns his latest into a consummate creep. Balu (Naga Chaitanya), a whiz-kid and compulsive topper, is insecure, insensitive and disrespectful towards women (more disturbing is the fact that the crowds cheer and clap when he makes a particularly disparaging remark about why girls shouldn't be educated). Meanwhile his maradalu Mahalakshmi (Tamanna) is totally smitten by him, but can never get past his big fat ego down to his heart.
Basically, the hero and heroine look like they hate each other, but this is because they love each other just so much. Confused and angry rebounds and weepy climaxes later, the credits roll.
100 Percent Love's revival of the bava-maradalu relationship on screen is cute. Most else is not. Balu is a caricature and his obsession with success may seem funny for a while, but then, cheapness quickly sets in - with Balu trying to top his class by doing things like scheming against his competitor.
Hazy ethics aside, the juvenility is incredible. Years after everyone leaves college, Balu has the same issues with life as that of a 10-year-old - and issues that erupt in totally unsubtle ways.
Also, it is downright weird to watch bava and maradalu - with pages of history and umpteen unsaid conversations behind them - bonding until just a few hours before their respective weddings to other people. We know that's the whole point the story wants to drive home, but things at this point get a little too slow and all-too-obvious for impatient audiences.
And in the end, the couple's grandfather announces boisterously to the wedding organizers, "Orey, boardlu maarchandra!!" Too quick a fix for a sticky mess that got dragged for 2 hours?
Sukumar is probably more of an execution-man than an ideas-man. Scenes are well-done, almost choreographed, and the production design is snazzy (the opening title sequence is an eye-popper). A few comic bits here and there are quite hilarious, like the one where Mahalakshmi's prospective fiancee Prasad comes to her college to check her out. Dharmavarapu's John Acharya is fun as well.
There are layers, too, if you look for them. Mahalakshmi's unconditional love for her bava, and the way her character grows up, is sweet and graceful, accentuated further by Tamanna's unblemished performance. Also, Mahalakshmi is a strong woman who stands up for her beliefs (and has beliefs to stand up for, in the first place) - a pleasant change from the usual silly/simpering Telugu heroine.
Naga Chaitanya's picking up pretty well. His deadpan dialogue delivery is carefully being worked into his style now. In any case, the lad has his fans.
Naresh, K R Vijaya, Vijay Kumar and others are dignified. The kids in the film are endearing, and their quick lines bring on a lot of laughs.
Devi Sri Prasad's scores might spike the charts for a brief while, but that's about it. The much-hyped item song has more skin than catchy music.
This one might have audiences more because of fanboy frenzy than because of its own merit. Skip it unless you can sleep through it.