Brand any film a comedy and, for the first couple of shows at least, you’ve got the crowds beating the doors down. Then the queue at the ticket counter starts to notice that the people emerging from the theater look pained and weary. Soon the excitement dies down, and another exercise in marketing has run its course. We wouldn’t say don’t watch Donga Dongadi. We’d say: watch it if you absolutely must but maybe it’s better on the whole if you didn’t. That’s diplomacy, that's what that is.
Launching another member of a filmi family is this three-hour-long story that manages to play out the basic boy-and-girl-think-they-hate-each-other-but-really-they-don’t theme for a good long while. Till the end, in fact. There’s no real plot to go by but what transpires is an endless episode of getting even.
Vasu (Manchu Manoj Kumar) and his friends – Sunil et al – make a strong case for birth control as they go through their entire life trying to look up skirts. This is a time-consuming occupation and leaves them with no energy to do anything productive. But one day Vasu meets his match (Sadaf). You know she’s his match because she gets to do a little dance in the fields at the start of the film. Also, she regularly calls him ee-diot. Cupid has struck.
The two of them can’t stand each other, but in her case perhaps that’s understandable as he causes her bike to crash into an auto. While she was on it. When she regains consciousness she gets really mad at him. He also gets mad because he’s had to foot half the hospital bill. So they fight a lot and he calls her father names and she calls his father names. Ah, the ways of young love.
The interval comes and goes and those two are still at it. Vasu escapes to Vizag to clean up his act and prove to his father that he’s not a complete loser. He doesn’t seem to do much in this direction, but at the end of the movie his father is convinced, so that should be good enough for us.
Donga Dongadi does very little apart from letting you watch boy and girl bicker pointlessly. Maybe they were going for cute, but they really pushed it. Towards the end there’s some attempt at a climax when the girl declares her undying love and the boy tells her to shove it. He does this because he doesn’t know whether his father will approve of her, and he doesn’t want to cause his family any more pain. Barf, barf.
Both Sadaf and Manoj Kumar are fair, but they don’t have much to go on with. A little more substance would have been good. It might have saved Donga Dongadi from being what it is: a lovers’ squabble with no end in sight.