Watching a spate of insensitive films - including the recent Luckunnodu
- has its own advantage. We now have a working template for us to critique (or unabashedly ridicule) Telugu movies of the genre (the "creep" genre, as we call it) - narrate the story briefly, point out the moral crisis, ridicule the director, bash the characters, and hate ourselves for watching it.
So Babu (Nani) is an unemployed engineering graduate and a local brat. He falls in love with Kirthi (Keerthy Suresh), an aspiring MBA student, after a formulaic Tollywood encounter.
He stalks and harasses her and finally makes her love him. But Kirthi's father (Sachin Khedekar), although loving and caring, is understandably wary about Babu due to the latter's disrespectful, erratic and anti-social demeanour. Also, Kirthi's ex-lover Siddharth Varma (Naveen Chandra), a hulking cop, is back after four years, and her father arranges for her to get wedded to him. How Babu wins the father's approval forms the crux of the film. If somewhere in all that you were reminded of Cinema Choopistha Mama
, please join the queue.
Being a rehash of the same director's previous film isn't the biggest of Nenu Local's sins, though. That once again a Telugu film shows its ignorance of burning societal issues, is. The movie features a protagonist who falls in love with the girl at first sight and decides to mentally molest her till she concedes. He joins the same college, sits next to her, and keeps diverting her attention. He even abuses the professor for asking him to shut up (and surprisingly, his clueless classmates don't do a thing). He has no respect for his parents, either.
Indeed, Babu is everything a woman wouldn't desire to see in a partner. In fact, Kirthi's first lover is way more honourable and dignified than Babu - but somehow, he is the antagonist. Go figure. Also, the honest police officer, who is looking for a reason to arrest Babu to prevent him from stealing his lover, doesn't stumble upon the fact that harassment is a good enough reason. Seriously, someone, please call the She-Teams already.
Kirthi is the stereotypical girlfriend who believes that money and status are required to love or marry someone. And as prescribed by the cliché, Babu changes her. If you thought we ought to have put the word changes there in double quotes, well, you've more than got the point.
Nani has chosen a bad script and role this time. His character Babu can annoy most audiences sensitive to sexual harrassment, and this choice of role to turn a mass hero was ill-advised, even if his acting cannot be faulted and even if the comedy and youth audiences might still save this film. Keerthy Suresh doesn't express the sort of emotions a person feels when they are being tortured by a serial molester masquerading as a "lover", but that's really not her fault, and her emoting and her eventual chemistry with Nani deserve mention. Sachin Khedekar pulls off a helpless and conservative father quite well. He is possibly the only actor you can like in this film. Naveen Chandra is brawny and acts well. Most other actors, although popular, aren't prominent to the course of the film.
Nizar Shafi renders cool hues and colours, and Devi Sri Prasad's beats and rhythms pass muster.
Telugu audiences perhaps need a break from conventional Telugu movies until Bahubali 2 or Ghazi. Meanwhile Tollywood writers need a bridge course on sexual harassment and its various forms.