If you're a Telugu movie regular and aren't yet used to watching Surya's brother on screen for extended periods of time, you stand the risk of getting overwhelmed by Karthi's distracting resemblance to Venkatesh.
But wait - that's not the real trick the kid has up his sleeve.
Naa Peru Siva sure is a hero's flick, in a way that not many hero-oriented movies are. The film, for all its commercial "formula" elements, has a very real quality about it, a quality that Karthi is the person largely responsible for.
Karthi brings to the screen a macho vulnerability not seen nowadays in our leading men. He's less angry street-fighter and more mischievous boy-next-door, and this is part of the charm that Naa Peru Siva offers.
The story, strangely, is made of 2 disjointed parts - it is a simplistic romance in the first half of the flick and a crime thriller in the second. Karthi plays Siva, a happy-go-lucky loaf who woos the utterly air-headed Priya (Kajal Aggarwal). There's some comedy here, and Karthi is good at the silently cheeky one-liners. In the backdrop looms a murder mystery, that you discover is fatally connected to one of the characters in the main story.
Naa Peru Siva has a plain vanilla plot, but is a neatly-executed product. Middle-class Siva is a great opportunity for the makers to focus on the lives of the common man and his family and friends, starting with the very "homely" unkempt apartment.
The sights and sounds of everyday life - the struggle to pay bills, the typical day in the life of a collection agent, the less-than-exceptional hospitals, the wedding shopping in narrow by-lanes, the tea shops - are all captured in an appealing way, and yet never seem exaggerated or contrived.
Shiva is a character who matures from playful man-child to a 20-something who slowly realizes his responsibilities, and Karthi pulls it off with fascinating charm, grinning ear to ear as he does so. He has his mandatory fight sequences in the end, when some gory action winds up the bad guys, and he doesn't seem very out of place there either.
The ending fight sequence (highly unsuitable for kids, by the way) merits a mention, by virtue of its conceptualization alone. The drama that is the run-up to the fight captures the essence of the misguided angst of psychotic young criminals, and this culminates in some suitably thrilling moments.
The weak spot of the movie is a weird ending that either indicates that Shiva has changed his choice of career to that of Aparichitudu For Crimes Against Women (in which case it is an angle that is hopelessly unexplored), or shows that no one in the crew had any clue how to end the flick.
While Kajal Aggarwal cannot but be bubbly in her largely empty role, the chemistry between her and Karthi is quite sweet. Shiva's family, Priya's lawyer father, and the goon, who is her father's client, all have special places in the story, and each of the actors does an impressive job of emoting. Special touches include Shiva's relationship with his own father, and with the goon Gireesam.
Sadly, Yuvan Shankar Raja hasn't pumped up Naa Peru Shiva with as many songs as he did Awara, and neither are his numbers the sort that will linger in your mind. However, the background track keeps with the film's mood.
Naa Peru Shiva is a thorough entertainer, and we recommend it if there's nothing else drawing you to the theatres this week.