Telugu movie audiences are of two types. The first category are the ones who are knowledgeable, who’ve watched plenty of Hollywood cinema, who tut-tut logical flaws, who tell you which movie was copied from where, and who most likely appreciate poetry. The second category, the remaining 99%, are the ones that really matter. Give them the right amounts of salt, spice and oil in their masala dosa, and they’ll make your movie a hit. Just don’t serve them raw mix and call it your interpretation of a dosa.
That should explain the rating. Pokiri is no award-winner. It just works. And how.
It’s impossible to see Pokiri doing any lesser than 100-150 days. Puri Jagannath has made a perfect mass action entertainer, one that makes the blood surge fast in your veins when it’s not surging faster. Its raw dialogues and unrepentant pandering to your ill-fated fantasy to be a superhero, or at least to lustily cheer one as he fights for the meek, and its impressive checklist of all ingredients for a mass pot-boiler, make this one a prominent applicant for the biggest hit of the year.
Pandu (Mahesh Babu) is a vagabond and ruffian with his heart in the right place – i. e. in money. He’ll do anything for mammon, including murder. Leading a life of crime, he runs into Shruti (Ileana), a girl who brings out the softer side in him. But involved as he is in a fight between two gangs, he cannot commit to her in peace.
That is basically what the movie is about – a superhero strategizing and executing gangwars, and rubbing out members. There’s an evil inspector Kiran (Ashish Vidyarthi) who wants to molest Shruti, and Ali (Prakash Raj), the gangster kingpin, in other significant characters.
What make Pokiri a leg-grabber for you are the dialogues - the conceptualization of several scenes with great exchanges between characters. Indeed, it shows what just well-written dialogues can do for a film. The encounter between Mahesh and Ashish Vidyarthi in a basketball court, and Sayaji Shinde’s diatribe against the media, are just two examples of the adrenaline-pumping fury of this one. There’s thought in almost every key exchange in the film, and it’s the masala dosa thought.
The music, of course, rocks. The slick editing and the visual chutzpah add all the more to the presentation that showcases what is essentially a hardcore mass movie, extremely classily. But all of this, of course, could not have succeeded without the performamces.
Mahesh has the meatiest of dialogues, and with about 15 years in the industry now, he’s nearly par for the course. He has to mostly mouth pithy lines and look indifferent, and he delivers. Ileana shows promise – she’s cast in the Genelia mould, and should last her 2 years in the industry, as a good opposite for the younger heroes. The other good performances come from, of course, Prakash Raj, and the now seasoned Sayaji Shinde (who does an impressive job dubbing for himself) and Ashish Vidyarthi.
The main theme is so hypnotic, anything seems like a distraction, including even the songs. So the comic track, involving Brahmanandam, Ali and Venu Madhav, becomes almost an irritant everytime it obtrudes into the privacy between you and the movie. And even as a stand-alone module, it’s overdone.
So Pokiri is going to be a hit. A big hit.
Big enough, perhaps, to cause worry for Mahesh Babu. On several planes. It’s going to be very difficult to deliver on the hype that his next release will generate. Refer Johnny, Andhrawala, Chennakesava Reddy and, recently, Pournami. Attempting another action film immediately might be an ill-advised career move, since it has to better Pokiri now just not to be deemed routine, which will be hard. Actually, attempting any movie for a while may be a bad idea.
Now try to forget this review and watch the movie with no expectations.