The story began before the beginning. It began with the all-consuming war between the average Telugu citizen's all-consuming passions of politics and cinema (the latter passion Machiavelli-ed all over the place when bits of the movie were leaked). Then came furtive (not!) calls to black-ticket dealers. Out came the money saved up for a new outfit the "Pawanism" cult decreed. Queues to the ticket counters took over the streets of Hyderabad. Barricades went up as the Establishment sought to hold back the wave of the religious fervour of fans. And, finally, the fan made his way to the coveted seat.
And thus the show began.
The plot, of warring families and the thin line between intense love and intense hatred in a father-daughter relationship, is one that has been dabbled in before, for instance, here and here
, and countless other times. Trivikram, thankfully, doesn't mess (too much) with the formula. He just adds Pawan Kalyan to it. Tollywood buffs will tell you about how that automatically "makes everything to the 'Power' of infinity".
Gowtham's (Pawan Kalyan) grandfather Raghuram Nanda (Boman Irani) is a steel tycoon in Milan, who hasn't had any contact with his daughter Nanda (Nadia) in years. Unable to see his sickly grandfather torn up over this any longer, Gowtham flies down to Hyderabad to try and machinate a reconciliation.
As he "hides" behind the guise of the family's driver, Siddhu, and worms his way into the heart of his lovely maradallu
(there are two), he finds out that the family closet hides more than one skeleton.
Now it is upto him to make a chink in his aunt's steely armor, untangle the tangled lives of his cousins, pick one for himself, protect his aunt's family from unscrupulous businessmen, and do it all with his trademark blend of style, charm, and humour (please forgive us if we're getting the star and the character mixed up).
Simple enough a tale, but Trivikram makes it his, mostly with his zany, intelligent, and more-or-less relentless, sense of humour. While the highlight of the movie is probably the hero's entourage, whose job is to do everything for the billionaire-pretedending-to-be-chauffeur while making it seem as if he's the one doing it all; several other filler characters with well-etched backdrops add to the tale in ways that are as surprising as they are hilarious.
As is with most good comedy, your ability for belief is stretched, but at no point abused. Insane plot twists, like elopements within an elopement tale, or butlers-turned-Ugandan-millionaires (Brahmanandam) returning to cause elopements, invite you to laugh with them, rather than laughing raucously as you stare in bewilderment.
While no film on which the star's lines shine down is complete without a couple of cracked skulls, these cracked skulls are obtained with minimal jarring of senses, making Attarintiki? a movie you can safely take children with violent tendencies to without fearing that they will run to nearest pickaxe and scythe store from the theatre.
Feminists can relax too. While the movie still doesn't recognize women in general as real people, all of the leading female characters, including Nadia, Pranitha and Samantha, get well-etched, interesting personalities and plotlines actually necessary to the movement of the story.
Pawan Kalyan, as usual, delivers a performance as casual as it is effortless, shifting from buffoon to rich dude to man-on-a-mission, and never once giving up on the upper hand.
Pranitha is adorable as the innocent and empty-headed Prameela, and Samantha does justice to her role of Sasi, Prameela's snappy and spirited older sister.
Nadia is wonderful as the unyielding daughter who hates as hard as she loves. Boman Irani is the penultimate father, giving Prakash Raj a serious run for his money.
It is, however, the comedians, including Brahmanandam, M S Narayana, Raghu Babu, Ahuti Prasad, and several others, that keep you watching long after you've stopped caring about the father-daughter plotline.
The screenplay teases and rivets, and if it has a tendency to linger and smell the flowers, it makes up for by immediately giving you something new to think about. The cinematography is just as interesting as the screenplay, the camerawork matching Trivikram's vision frame for frame.
While the background score is as fun as the rest of the movie, the songs are more or less routine, with the hero's intro track being the least required.
Verdict: There is something about watching a film on a 70mm screen through a haze of newspaper confetti, barely being able to hear the lines over the din of crazed fans, and having to make a run for the gate (after the movie) to avoid overzealous reporters, that completes the experience of watching a movie in Hyderabad. When the in-between is as much fun as the before and after, what's not to like?