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Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo Review

Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo
Josh /
Can watch again
Good for kids
Good for dates
Wait to rent it
Valmiki (Murali Sharma) is an employee of Ramachandra (Jayaram). But employee is a bad word in Trivikram's world. It means servant, if not slave. Valmiki rues this truth of the world (of Trivikram's world at least) so much that when a sliver of opportunity presents itself, he switches his baby (born in the general ward) with Ramachandra's baby (born in the special ward of the same hospital) on the night of their birth. After the swap is executed and evidence suppressed, each time he goes to his boss's house Valmiki beams at his son being brought up in luxury.

At least Mary Pereira of Midnight's Children had the guilt that comes with something so heinous as switching babies. Valmiki doesn't have this humanity. He brings up Ramachandra's son with a sadistic disdain constantly informing him that his life is quite worthless. The wretchedness of Valmiki is truly exemplified in naming the boy 'Bantu' (servant). Despite all his efforts to differentiate his own son from that of Ramachandra, his son in the mansion grows up to be a dim, dull and spineless fellow, whereas Bantu grows up to be a bright, strong Chiranjeevi nephew who embraces his author-backed fate.

Off the bat, I have a bunch of issues with this plot. Trivikram's obession with the Beautiful Bourgeois and his contempt for the Miserable Middle class has been on embarrassing display for a while now (the poor proletariat doesn't exist in his world except to be occassionally saved by the hero). Ala Vaikunthapuramlo takes it a few notches higher by making the middle class guy the wretched villain without a heart. Adding salt to the wound, this villain is called Valmiki. The rich man is called Ramachandra.

I'll stop complaining soon. Just one more paragraph. Thank you. Trivikram's assertion that the rich man's son will be king no matter how damaging his upbringing, and that the middle class spawn will always be middling no matter how much access to resources he has, is basically what's called nepotism. It is logic like this that also sustains casteism.

Okay, I lied. Last complaint in this review, I swear. Women aren't to be respected because they give birth. They are to be respected because they are people. This notion that you disrespect people unless they prove they are worthy is a very hateful way of looking at the world. You could alternatively respect people until they prove to be unworthy and you may just find some peace in your head.

So, it is obvious that I loathe Trivikram's worldview at least as much as he loathes the middle class. Nevertheless, I loved Ala Vaikunthapuramlo.

Trivikram is the sort of filmmaker who really wants to tell us something. He opens the doors to his mind and invites us in. The fundamental transaction in such situations is that the story-teller wants us to pay attention to his story by offering us entertainment in return. All the issues I talked about earlier, he brushes them under a big carpet. In some visits (Agnyaathavasi being the worst), the carpet isn't very nice and he isn't even being a good host. The transactional nature of the host-guest or the raconteur-audience relationship is compromised.

But this time around, the carpet is soft, warm, and very very beautiful. I spent at least two hours of my visit admiring the carpet, squatting on it, and enjoying its lovely patterns. And it's almost Sankranthi. Trivikram's upped his hosting game by bringing Allu Arjun to the party. They really put the festive in this festival.

So you have a film which is written well. Trivikram's pet themes are all there. But they are worked better here. Remember that strange bit from S/O Sathyamurthy, of a couple that doesn't talk to each other? It feels odd and forced there. But in Ala Vaikunthapuramlo, the conflict is built enough for you to enjoy the tenderness of the moment when the couple is rejoined. Better writing also lends to lesser pontification. He resorts to speechifying in the last scene but the rest of the film does tell the story by showing.

The film is also shot, composed, choreographed, and acted very well. It is a fact that these departments have always been well taken care of in every Trivikram film. The big difference is that the writing and the direction really come together this time. So you get to enjoy Samajavaragamana much more than Gaali Vaaluga. The very casual and chilled out climax fight is much more enjoyable than hundreds of goons getting pounded in S/O Sathyamurthy.

Making great use of this development in writing is the strong cast including Murali Sharma, Tabu, Jayaram, Samuthirakani, Sachin Khedekar (first time I've liked him in a south-Indian film) and Rajendra Prasad among others. Pooja Hegde, too, manages to not stick out and truly belongs in the few scenes she's around.

However, the absolute winner here is Allu Arjun. Not saddled by the impossible stardom of, say, a Mahesh Babu, he gets to play around a lot more in the lows which make his highs that much more satisfying. (Barring his pronunciation.) He's become a complete entertainer where his bouncy fights, flowy steps, funny lines and wholly Bunny charisma are still working their magic even in the complete fan-service moments which often tire out the non-fans.

So, yeah, I really enjoyed this visit to Trivikram's mind. I would have enjoyed it a lot more (perhaps 8.5/10 ?) if only he spent some time on the couch and resolved those issues that hide under that big beautiful carpet.
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Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (telugu) reviews
Rating is quick and easy - try it!
Raghu M on 19th Jan 2020, 7:52am | Permalink
Disappointing movie. Outdated writing, stale dialogues and at times, disgusting (treating women characters). And stinking 'carpet'.
Better off watching "a aa" again.
In Trivikram's own words, I think he should probably "relax" and "take a break/gap"
1 - 12 OF 12 COMMENTS
Can watch again - NA
Good for kids - NA
Good for dates - NA
Wait to rent it - NA
Maktub Alam on 15th Feb 2020, 7:35pm | Permalink
Looks more like a forcible movie made out of compulsions. Director had to do a movie with Allu and he did it. No story, mostly depends on hero dialogues to move forward. What a pity. Director did not put his mind and focus on story writing. Waste of time for Samuthira kani. What exactly is the role of second heroine. Best thing she did all over the film was to hit the box of hero from the back. Nice touch director. Only towards the end I found out that she is Nivetha. Poor girl. Murali Sharma wasted through forcible dialogues. Overall this is a out of mind out of focus effort.
vara on 7th Feb 2020, 10:12pm | Permalink
Strictly 6/10 for me. I might not get the philosophy behind the movie but lot of things are off to me. For example - 1) The affair, there is no hint on how the hero got the news and why the other wise looking sens full people could not solve themselves. 2) Sushanth - he smokes & drinks and hides with parents but why the hell he cant say NO to others. The director thought innovatively at each step of the movie but left every thing else.
Raghu M on 19th Jan 2020, 7:52am | Permalink
Disappointing movie. Outdated writing, stale dialogues and at times, disgusting (treating women characters). And stinking 'carpet'.
Better off watching "a aa" again.
In Trivikram's own words, I think he should probably "relax" and "take a break/gap"
rahulsachinsourav123 on 18th Jan 2020, 2:17pm | Permalink
I was excited b'cos this movie had lots of my favourite actors across industries like Jayaram, Tabu, Samuthirakani, Rajendra Prasad, Sunil, Navadeep, Rohini, Rahul Ramakrishna put together. These are real acting talents but god I came out disappointed as none of these characters were up to the mark. Neither they are written well nor there was scope to showcase their talents. Especially Tabu, Sunil, Samuthirakani, Navadeep are criminally wasted. It is all about Bunny & Murali Sharma. Nothing else. Even main heroine is wasted & is present just as an object which hero keeps on ogling at. And what was that Brahmanandam blink & miss?

Music was good in audio but average in video which was too colorful with too many overlapped images & Bunny kept on repeating dance steps as well. Even some jokes were outdated (Ex: "Maa nanna lenani cheppa mannarandi", etc). Also scenes where nurse wakes up once Bunny or Jayaram passes nearby, etc reflect outdated film making. Overall its over-rated, over-marketed, over-populated, over-credited and over-long movie.
eBoy on 17th Jan 2020, 11:42am | Permalink
As you have explained, the movie itself is nice but with many disturbing things (at least for me).

1) Intro of Navadeep: how he justifies humiliating a girl as an accident

2) Sushanth's character: How it ends, its illogical and one dimensional.

3) Hero's perversion: God's sake, look at the legs alone. And, how the lady is comfortable with that. As a matter of fact, i loved the song but thoroughly disappointing on the screen. Its like celebrating the perversion.

Having said that.. performances of arjun and murali sharma are worth praising.
Shashank on 16th Jan 2020, 9:30pm | Permalink
Our beloved "TFI-Hero" standing in an elevator ogles at our "Heroine"'s legs (and thighs?) and the leading lady who is capable of running a travel company by herself doesn't find that creepy at all. She travels with the "TFI-Hero" to Paris where He sings an entire song to justify the way he wants to ogle at her legs/thighs (casually asking her to cover herself) is the most progressive writing in recent time **SLOWCLAPS**!!!

PS: Oh did I mention about the carnatic (Suddha Dhanyasi) music playing in the background?
TFI lover on 14th Jan 2020, 1:37am | Permalink
Very nice review. One thing I absolutely loved is Thaman's music! Loved every song and back-ground score also goes with the flow.
AVS on 13th Jan 2020, 9:11am | Permalink
Why isn't there any discussion on Mathu Vadala Raa..clearly a winner and the best among the recent times..
Josh on 13th Jan 2020, 6:10pm | Permalink
Just been very busy, man. Been working almost everyday for the last couple of months. Not watching movies pretty much. Only reason I reviewed this one was because it released on a Sunday.

I'll add Maththu vadalaraa to my watchlist. Thanks for the reco.
Telugu Cinema Abhimaani on 13th Jan 2020, 2:07am | Permalink
The review is as warm and lovely as the movie itself. Thank you, Josh. I realized as I was reading the review that Trivikram indeed showed more than telling. Maybe, that's what made me ignore Trivikram's viewpoint on lineage and middle-class behaviour and enjoy the film whole-heartedly. Great review man!
Josh on 13th Jan 2020, 6:11pm | Permalink
Hey, thanks, man.

Trivikram's been making the mistake of telling more than showing for a while now. I hope this film signals the end of that laziness.
Kanye on 12th Jan 2020, 10:52pm | Permalink
Exactly what I expected to read, thanks Josh for hearing my pleas.

While I was watching the movie, I was actually confused of the portrayal of the middle class. We're not that hopeless. And is it just me or do Trivikram films now lack that fluidity of say a Jalsa or an Athadu? I can't quite place my finger on it but something has been missing in everything but A Aa.

But the parts that were supposed to shine really did shine in this one. So I'll take what I get and hope that Trivikram and Bunny build off of this.
Josh on 13th Jan 2020, 6:18pm | Permalink
Kanye, I'll bet a month's salary that Trivikram grew up with a bunch of insecurities about not having enough dough. Consciously he talks of a lot of bookish or mythological level ideals. But unconsciously he seems to idealise affluence and berate regular living. I wish he took the route of making the ordinary look noble. I find that much more palatable.

At any rate, as long as he works on his craft I'll watch everything he makes.
Madhu on 12th Jan 2020, 9:25pm | Permalink
Kanye can be at peace, although this movie is definitely a notch above the other.
Portuguese Man-of-War on 12th Jan 2020, 8:22pm | Permalink
"Women aren't to be respected because they give birth. They are to be respected because they are people." Nice one!
Josh on 13th Jan 2020, 6:12pm | Permalink
Thanks, PMoW!
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