This writer was reminded of Ranbir Kapoor innumerable times while watching Premam today. The particular visual that played out was that of Ranbir lip-syncing lustily to Sadda Haq or Nadaan Parindey or even the latest rage Bulleya. The veins in Ranbir's neck stick out as he feigns belting, and even though we know that the voice belongs to someone else, we are more than inclined to believe that he's the one singing.
Naga Chaitanya, on the other hand, does not open his mouth more than a smidgen. The line in the song could be a softly murmured one or a high-pitched one - his mouth will not open and there will be no strain on his face when he's lip-syncing it. It just serves to disconnect the viewer from the song. How we wish he would learn that the simple act of actually singing out a song while shooting would probably really make his performance that much more believable.
Premam, the remake of the runaway Malayalam hit of the same name, has several typical Telugu cinema touches added to it. To be fair, we will not bring comparisons with the original into this review. The film is the story of Vikram aka Vicky (Naga Chaitanya) and his love stories at various stages of his life.
[WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD] Premam works in parts. The first love story is too short to be taken seriously - it is clearly a case of infatuation and the kind of heartbreak that you are told Vikram goes through after this one rings false. However, the subsequent portions with Vikram's new bearded avatar, Venkatesh making a surprise appearance as his uncle, and the love story with Shruti Hassan put the movie back on track. The entire college sequence plays out nicely enough to keep the audiences engaged. The final love story is wrapped up in a hurry, but comedian Srinivasa Reddy does enough in these portions to keep you engaged. Director Chandoo Mondeti adapts the soul of the Malayalam original and adds his own embellishments to make the flick palatable to Telugu audiences.
Naga Chaitanya overplays the schoolboy part with awkward mannerisms, but more than makes up for it with the other two portrayals. He's clearly something of a heartthrob now considering the number of girls who whipped out their cell phones to record his entry scene in his bearded look. Anupama Parameswaran gets a miniscule role while Shruti Hassan tones her urban girl down quite a bit and does well. Madonna Sebastian fails to impress with both her looks and her acting skills. The remaining support cast including Praveen, Krishna Chaitanya and Srinivasa Reddy provide very able support.
The film is fine technically. Only a couple of the songs register - the essence of the original tunes seems to be lost in translation.
Premam is fun in bits and parts, but is entertaining on the whole. Also, it is clean - no vulgarity, no gory action - making it almost an ideal vacation watch with your full family.