Few of us can forget Bapu's piece de resistance of the early '90s, Pelli Pustakam. A professional peep into the awwwww relationship of an endearingly playful young couple, the film went where no banter had ever gone before, making you gush and blush and grin stupidly as Rajendra Prasad and Divya Vani made you nod like a freshly uncoiled spring to the concept of marriage. Bapu's indulgence of the boundless gaiety of blossoming marriages continues in Radha Gopalam, a film on almost the same lines, but thankfully so.
Middle-class Gopalam (Srikanth) wants to wed rich girl Radha (Sneha), and takes the easy way out by doing intense penances for it to propitiate Lord Krishna. The Lord wonders why he can't just go and ask her Dad, but grants his wish nevertheless, after some ill-timed advice about sticking to just some bird-watching and leaving the results to Him fails. And so starts a cute tale of a blithe, sprightly young couple celebrating in each instance of marital union.
The first half deals mostly with the joie de vivre of new company in one's life and in one's emotions, as Gopalam and Radha cavort from scene to scene in well-done individual moments of new domestic bliss. But things start heading south when the lawyer couple unwittingly take on opposite sides of a marital strife case involving Venu Madhav (the star of this film!) and Divya Vani. In summary, Gopalam wants Radha to drop the case, and she won't.
Now when the shit starts to hit the ceiling, the worst thing that can happen is that someone switches on the fan. At exactly this time, Radha starts turning into a star lawyer, and to top it, commits a diplomatic incident vis-à-vis Gopalam when she testifies to save a college co-student without informing Gopalam first. For good-looking talented women, fame is an accelerating outward spiral. There are so few of them, even modest achievements make them media darlings. And fame begets more fame, as each media entity has to do it so as not to be the only one not doing it.
Radha gets on the media, and Gopalam finds her on TV. And she commits another faux pas by by not mentioning her husband. The deuces are now really wild. It's over to Lord Krishna now to steady the rocking boat. Since He's not human, He just pulls off a miracle. By the way, He's the coolest one. No, the Lord Himself. He has an answer to everything. It'd be fun to have a conversation some day.
Bapu messes up in small things that could have really made this a full chip of intellectual manhood. Radha's first case victory is too theoretical and ivory-tower to work. Some of the tiny moments of banter and intimacy do not seem to make sense - almost like keeping it vague to make it look creative.
Also, several times, Gopalam appears like he is not a jealous husband who knows it and is trying to deal with it, which is natural, but an underevolved boor who cannot be made a film hero. There should be a purpose to making someone your film's hero - even if it is to show him change. You can't have as your lead actor a man who actually needs God pulling off a miracle and sermonizing to turn him good.
The performances are good, with Venu Madhav leading the pack with one of the best comic performances in a long time as an adulterous husband. The film is watchable simply for him. Sneha laughs too much for the performance to be called classy - Pelli Pustakam was a hit since neither Rajandra Prasad or Divya Vani actually laughed at the other's antics; it was the perky ripostes.
The soundtrack boasts some pleasant numbers. On the whole, watchable for being far above the normal Telugu fare in both thought and execution.