Vamsy's impressive filmography, which normally would put him on the same pedestal as K Vishwanath, Bapu and Jandhyala, has often been marred by a preference for the risque - an unnecessary predilection to use a sieve upon what would otherwise have been a U audience. Arguably his two most memorable works to this date, April 1 Vidudala and Ladies Tailor, are stark examples of that rather unfortunate propensity for adult humour. Gopi Gopika Godavari will not make that list, and the reason is more tragic than relieving - it's not a memorable movie to start with.
Gopi Gopika Godavari is in the same palette as most Vamsy movies of the '80s and '90s - set in rural Andhra Pradesh, with the dialect of the Godavari and the coastal hinterland, and middle class family settings. However, Vamsy fails to keep pace with the changing pulse of audiences - for a generation used to a glut of entertainment options and with short attention spans, a movie has to entertain and keep them in high spirits continuously. The plot of Gopi Gopika Godavari almost dies after a reasonably encouraging first half, and that proves its bane.
Gopika (Kamalinee Mukherjee) is a kind-hearted young doctor who chooses to serve the poor in villages in the Godavari belt around Rajahmundry through a mobile hospital - a launch with some beds, first aid and some nursing staff. The film trolls around languidly on the East Godavari canvas as it sets up its premise, and thus can't help but endear itself to people who hail from that part of the state.
Gopika accidentally gets in touch with Gopi (Venu), an orchestra singer in Hyderabad, when the latter lands upon a cellphone that her friend has lost. They grow fond of each other as they have continued conversations, and fall in love, too, without having seen each other even once. They are about to finally meet when Gopika summons Gopi to her village to meet her mother, but on the way there Gopi gets into a fracas with some thugs that results in a blow on his head and him losing his memory.
Gopi Gopika Godavari might have been passably engrossing but for its second half, which lacks in both entertainment and soul. A typical romance has the courtship, the estrangement (or equivalent), and the getting back together. Handling the estrangement is the key, since it is the part that depresses the viewer who did not come to get depressed. Gopi Gopika... spends over an entire hour without things looking like they'll improve - and, actually, with the situation continuously deteriorating.
The film does have some good comedy, featuring Krishna Bhagawan - a fine actor who isn't seen as often nowadays. The track featuring him is completely illogical in concept, but then so's the world - the execution swallows you too much to rise enough to wonder about the concept. But like we said, most of the humour is A-rated - for example, think a 10-year-old asking his dad for XXX movies to watch or writing love letters to his teacher. And that spoils it for the family crowds, for what is essentially a clean, family film.
Kamalinee Mukherjee is talented and graceful as always, and Venu is a better actor than he used to be, though this film might not do much for his sagging career. Gitanjali as Gopi's mother does a good job. The film mercifully has just about 3 songs (including an item number), which are nothing to write home about really. The movie's being set on the Godavari and its banks, of course, throws a long rope to the cinematographer, and he uses it up almost fully in doing a mostly average job.
Gopi Gopika Godavari is for those who do not mind an average filmmaking effort if it will take them to what they consider home. If you liked this, hopefully you didn't miss the one by the other Vamsi