I might be on an island with this opinion but I was quite disappointed at Gopichand's foray into being a hero. His menacing turns in Varsham
had me salivating at the fact that Tollywood had found a captivating bad guy who would be the consummate immovable object to any good guy's unstoppable force.
The good guys were disposable but Gopichand's intensity and ominous screen presence were inimitable. While movies headlining him have ranged from bad to passable to the occasional good, his characters in said movies rarely, if ever, captured the imagination like his aforementioned cracks at being a villain. Could Goutham Nanda be the film that would shift my perspective and help me embrace Gopichand as a "hero"?
Turns out, not quite.
Goutham Nanda follows the stories of Goutham and Nanda - the former the sole heir to a massive fortune amassed by his oft-absentee parents and in search of an identity of his own; and the latter the sole heir to his parent's never-ending series of issues, poverty and debts, and dreaming of living the high life while endlessly parroting The Wolf Of Wall Street's most quoted line.
Owing to a chance meeting and a minor application of twin magic, the men exchange their ecosystems for a period of 30 days as a means to experience their deepest desires.
As Roger Ebert once said, "It's not what it is about but how it's about it." With that in mind, I'll ignore how flagrantly the basic plot and beats of the first two acts are lifted from many films of the past (including the Kannada film Alli Brahmachari Illi Ramachari). The film still had room to explore when it came to its characterizations and world. Sadly, no originality can be found here as it is a product of that much-maligned version of Tollywood that refuses to evolve even if recent films around it (Ninnu Kori
, Pelli Choopulu
to name a few) are pushing the industry towards a better and more well-rounded creative space. This version of Tollywood consists of lazy filmmaking where lighting equipment is left out in the open to insinuate coolness and characters are as unidimensional as the sets they occupy.
This is the version that forgot that the so-called mass movie can be thought-provoking, deep and emotional, and that mass films are given the said moniker because they cater to the most primal instincts of every man and woman (not just the supposed B- or C-centre audiences).
The movie rarely has anything truly rewarding for its audience. The rich folk are either evil or stoic, the poor folk are good to the point of making God jealous, the young ladies in the poorer parts of town and the richer parts of town suspiciously have the exact same makeup and hair people because both look equally dolled up, and morals are quite literally dictated to the audience with subtlety thrown out the door. While my usual gripes of underused female characters and poorly written dialogues still stand, I more than realise that this film is a vehicle to make its lead star look a million bucks.
The film fails at that aspect as well until the second act twist (leading to the third act) kicks in. The movie finally reveals a major plot point it has been sitting on for the first two acts, and lets Gopichand play to his strengths. An intense and purposeful Gopichand with a clear and relatable motivation is what I have asked for since his days of being the baddest you-know-what walking the face of Tollywood. He chews the scenery up as if he is relishing the chance to show the audience what he is truly capable of. The last 30 minutes of the film, even though marred with plot holes, finally justified the price of admission to many members of the audience. Watching Gopichand act against himself is a sight indeed.
This section of the film acts as a small token of redemption for putting the audience through hackneyed storytelling for nearly two hours of its runtime which includes unfunny jokes, forgettable songs, a deafeningly loud score, botched character moments and a tragic waste of Ajay.
While refraining from saying the awful "this is strictly for Gopichand fans" line, I can't help but rue the lost opportunities scattered throughout the film. While the potential to make a gripping character drama or an engaging and intelligent cat-and-mouse action movie between the twin leading men is as plain as day, the filmmakers chose poorly while constructing their narrative. Gopichand ends up being merely the saving grace of a film which had the possibility to shoot him back into the A-list.