Devadasu – thank heavens – is not another gunky remake of Sharat Chandra Chatterjee's melodramatic opus. No theatrical scenes here, of a drunk swirling around with a bottle in a river. This Devadasu is spunky, gleefully superficial, and lets off crackles and bangs of humor as regularly and closely spaced as a giant string of Diwali ladis.
Ram plays Devadasu, a hot-blooded, humdinger of a Hyderabadi. He dwells in a slum, goes to a government college, and speaks dialogues that, like a long-drawn Taekwondo move, are tongue-twistingly complicated and pack a solid punch.
His life goes by very eventfully between playing his guitar and stoking fights between his college, and the snobs next door at a certain Loyola. Both colleges have groups of male buddies who measure their lives' success by the number of attractive girls who have ridden pillion on their bikes. The dominant pick-up line in the movie is therefore "get on my bike babe", spoken to women barely known. Unfortunately, though, it comes out unintentionally rash to sound like "get a move on, you cow", uttered at an overcrowded supermarket check-out.
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world (USA), Bhanu (Illeana) is born primarily to turn into Devadasu's lawful wedded wife someday. She spends her time gambolling around on beaches in swimsuits, finding enchanted conches that blow love messages, and generally playing the kind of jobless princess who spawns fairy tales.
Along with her grandmother Chandralekha (Ramaprabha), she decides to come to India to learn music, and her father Kaatam Raju (Sayaji Shinde), the Senator of New York (no kidding), gives her special permission to disappear from his watchful and loving gaze.
Soon enough, Loyola-ite Bhanu and SRR-ite Devadasu want to cross-breed and get yoked. The Loyola-ite snobs are unhappy because a blossom from their garden has been snapped off by a government college low-life. Kaatam Raju, who shares their emotions, turns into a diabolical Sidney Sheldonesque villian who starts playing friendly with Devadasu while making fiendish plans to backstab him.
Devadasu, of course, is no ordinary superhero. He utters some more Taekwondo lines, throws back his shirt collar, and sees right through Kaatam Raju's lowly con. And follows the family back to the US. Here we meet Bangara Raju (M S Narayana), Kaatam Raju's PA and the lead comic character, and this is one of his more hilarious performances. He follows Kaatam Raju around like a flea does a dog, and makes life hell for him with his infuriating questions.
The music is average, very loud and heavy on percussion and electronica. Some melodies are lasting, but the English-Hindi-Telugu mongrelization of the lyrics smudge up their character. Illeana is pretty and good enough for the limited facets to her role. Ram is energetic and manages to retain a boyish charm through his street smart persona.
Shriya plays herself, and comes and goes as Devadasu's helper. As for Shinde, you could say he plays himself, too, since this seems to be the only kind of role that is following him around these days - that of a villian with a childishly devious personality.
Devadasu thrives on its dialogues and Ram's acting, while the others serve as tracks to keep the story going straight. Overall, it's funny, cute, cheerful and feel-good all through. There is hardly any element that pins down its floaty, buoyant feel, and so it continues like a loud swing-hustle party. One that gets more flamboyant and boisterous as every new character joins in.
We wager this is what you would rather see on a relaxed weekend, what with its comparative lack of pretensions to seriousness. And the dialogues, of course, are completely sssmokin'! Give it a dekko.