There's no shortcut to live up to hysteria of the magnitude that Magadheera has generated. Indeed, that flashy cameo by Chiranjeevi - the genesis of that delirium - is not just a desperate ploy to grab eyeballs. It is only the cherry on the cake.
Yes, there's more to this one's recipe than just that special appearance and an electrifying remix of a '90s hit borrowed from papa's opulent archives, and Ram Charan Tej has help from more than just Daddy. To bag a golden hen is one thing; to actually make it lay golden eggs, you've got to take as much help as you can get, which comes mostly in the form of the industry's official ATM - Rajamouli, the man who's been delivering hits when he's not been delivering superhits. Daddy's coat-tails help in more ways than one.
Magadheera sees Ram Charan Tej, in his bid to arrive in the industry, pick from a catalogue of routines that you thought were dying a slow death ever since Shekhar Kammula entered the scene.
Some of them are implausible stunts that someone of the likes of Srihari is great at peddling, like maneuvering himself on an airborne bike 20 feet up in the air, jumping from a rooftop onto a fluttering helicopter and then carrying on an entire fight sequence inside the aircraft, single-handedly taking on an army of a hundred men and
finishing them off, with a graphical show of the limbs and heads he chops - the works. Then there are some others, like rising up to the occasion and feeling up the heroine's navel when duty beckons, in the songs.
Harsha (Ram Charan), his lover Indu (Kajal Aggarwal), and Indu's wicked bava
(Dev Gill) are a set of characters who have all been re-born to finish a love story that came to a rude pause 400 years ago. Currently, Harsha and Indu are getting together in a cute romantic track that comes about when he realizes there's an inexplicable spark he feels when he touches the hand of this girl he 'almost' meets at a bus stop.
Meanwhile, Indu's father is the legal inheritor of a palace in Udaigarh. But his nephew (Dev Gill) is way too evil to stop impaling lawyers who attempt to file a case against him. The nephew sets his sights on Indu now, and this leads to the drama that spills over from four centuries ago.
Magadheera is the kind of movie in which you know what happens a few minutes before it happens. For instance, when the villain is rushing stealthily at the hero with a ten-foot spear, you know that ultimately it's the villain that the spear's going to go through. It's also the kind of movie that is keen to surpass your expectations in its own way - the spear finally goes through two
men together, not one.
However, it's engrossing enough to keep you glued, down to the last song and the last frame. The film begins with the director pounding Charan's lineage into you, with the song, the special appearance and the in-jokes. It then moves on to the modern-day romance, with the second half being reserved for the period drama.
The visuals are well-done, though there is a lot of computer-generated mumbo-jumbo, both in the stunts as well as the classical Rajasthani settings. Sometimes, it looks like Rajamouli's trying too hard to please.
Ram Charan, though riding the wave of someone else's superstardom, clearly wants to make sure he's worth all the noise. He uses his fascinating jawline to great effect when he smiles, he's very athletically built, he looks regal on a horse, and he tries out a lot of his father's dance moves. However, he's not a full-fledged actor yet. He doesn't have enough spontaneity to carry a scene forward all by himself, and he flounders with the big words - a big letdown in the history narrative, when the rest of the actors are busy being fluent. Plus, there are too many stunts and violence, however, and the hero ends up being very ridiculous a lot of the time.
For Kajal, this is one great career move, and pushes up her league by several notches. She has great screen presence, and her impish looks are an asset to her well-turned out acting skills.
Dev Gill has a role that reminds you of Sonu Sood in Arundhati
, and he does justice to his role. Srihari has a powerful role, but his language just seems funnily out of place in the flashback. Most of the rest of the cast can take some time to register in your mind, owing to the costumes, but the performances are good.
As for the music, none of the songs matches up to Bangaru Kodi Petta
, which itself is being considered a vanilla offering. However, it has all the makings of a certified chart-buster now, and Mumaith Khan can now proudly take part of the credit. The rest of the songs are alright, but the slow-paced title song is also well-done.
On the whole, Magadheera is a well-spent couple of hours. And oh, watch your hips as you get out of the theatre - that dance step is highly infectious.