Dhana 51 is the second film of Sumanth with J Soorya Kiran after Satyam
surprisingly was a good watch thanks to an impressionable performance by Sumanth and some carefully intertwined music. Both the director and the hero were perhaps so smitten by their work that when the flush of congratulations ended and they wanted more, their only inspiration was their own antecedent.
A remake in the essence, albeit with changes in the locations, songs, sidekicks and vocations of the actors, Dhana is essentially a cut-copy-paste version of their earlier enterprise, with new fonts and colors (literally!).
The story unravels in a predictable way with Dhana (Sumanth) being the messiah of all the harassed first years in some college where shaving for men is banned and tailors' mistakes - not clothes for women - is the dress code. In comes Lakshmi (Saloni) after another bash-up session by the hero, and bears witness to how he mesmerizes a self-declared lazy Principal into accepting his rowdy ways as a benefit to people and as his effort at saving money from the exchequer of the country.
Dhana, who is aspiring to be a police officer, is instantly attracted to Lakshmi, and it only grows during their routine trips to temples, drives and picnics with a bunch of dumbass sidekicks who have strict instructions from the director that acting is punishable. Mukesh Khanna, who makes his South-Indian movie debut, plays the role of a strict Police Commissioner, but in reality is obsessively possessive of his daughter, so much so that in a clandestine operation, shoots down a ruffian who tries to fool around with her.
In order to get rid of our hero, he uses Dhana's ambition to suit his needs and makes him an undercover agent to hunt down all the other trouble-makers in town. Our gullible hero helps apprehend the goons only to realize that this was a plan by the Commissioner to trap him for the rest of his life.
Dharmavarapu Subramanyam plays the hero's dad who finds using the stairs too hard an effort and hurls himself from the roof to a pool of blood in his effort to prove to the girl that his son truly loves her. How Dhana proves his innocence and gets the girl forms the remaining half of the film, which has been told no less than 51 times by the “actors” in Sumanth's family itself, very recently by his uncle.
The movie runs for an excruciating 2 hours and 45 minutes, in which, apart from hiding your disgust, you would have been distracted at least 51 times in an average theater, because of so many leaving.
The heroine does her job of looking cute and traditional. That is all the mention she needs, for that is how brief her role is. Tanikella Bharini puts in a neat performance as the girl's uncle, and so does Dharmavarapu Subramanyam. A special mention must be made of Mukesh Khanna, not only for his acting skills but also for dubbing for himself. Kudos to 'Shaktimaan' for having delivered such a good performance in a alien language, and also for his first non-Hindi appearance.
Now, if you are reading this without being completely confused about why the movie is titled Dhana 51, don't use too many of those gray cells. That's the hero's roll no. in college... amen.