Krishna Chaitanya's plot for Savitri is as unambitious as it gets. Savitri (Nandita) is obsessed with being married right from childhood. It doesn't matter to her whom she marries, and it doesn't matter what she is going to do with her life after the wedding - all she wants is to get married. Before you can spell r-e-g-r-e-s-s-i-v-e, she bumps into a fun and cheeky Rishi (Nara Rohit), who falls in love with her in the most unconvincing of circumstances and decides to woo her away from her engagement.
There is one too many a clichéd trope in the script. The hysterically impractical female lead is portrayed as "cute" and fully desirable. There is the comedian so completely off his head he believes he is a Lord Krishna incarnate after a two-minute speech by the hero. There is the loving family where the patriarch waxes lyrical about paruvu and prathishta. A wealthy girl and a middle class guy elope, and despite being so removed from each other that they practically don't even speak each other's language (the girl speaks English and the boy replies in Telugu), they are somehow in the right to run away and get married. Because love is all you need, isn't it?
Aside from these issues, one fear we had about the casting was that Nara Rohit isn't exactly the name that comes to mind when you think fun, cheeky youngster. We recently mentioned in Tuntari
's review that he appears like he never really was young. He still doesn't fit this role, but he seems to be more comfortable this time around. The mannerisms are more natural, and the body language more at home. And that possibly has to do with a director who knows his craft.
Pavan Sadineni's direction is what really pulls Savitri up. Despite the tropes being old and the plot being repetitive, something about the execution keeps the film going. The editing in the scenes with multiple actors and a bunch of close-ups are done with a certain smoothness that you don't find anything amiss (these scenes usually draw attention to themselves on account of how jarring they seem). The film often takes off to a kind of slow motion to emphasize the actions on screen, and these decisions all pay off. Sadineni has a fairly good idea how things will play out on the screen, and that's a talent a director has got to have.
Further, he engages his cast well. Thankfully, his screenplay's idea of humour is not to spoof the most recent blockbuster with a fifty-something comedian huffing and puffing to say unimaginative lines. That sort of laziness seems to have no place in his work. So you have pretty well-written comedy scenes that the actors make good use of. Prabhas Srinu, Satya, Ramaprabha, Jeeva and Fish Venkat among others are hilarious, and it is always a joy to watch the Telugu comedian work with material that is worth their talent.
This works out particularly well for Nandita. She, with her vast eyes, is a sight for sore eyes as she prances around in those half-sarees and sarees. It isn't just about how good she looks, we're equally invested in how convincing she looks in those clothes. Given our films, it isn't altogether unenvisagable that a fair-complexioned lady from Mumbai with no concept of lip-sync could be cast for this role. While Savitri is not really a film that lives up to the reputation of its legendary namesake, we can take solace from the fact that a pretty and expressive Telugu girl is playing the titular role.
En fin, Savitri could have been a painfully mediocre film if it were left in the hands of lesser talent. Pavan Sadineni shows a lot of promise and elevates the film to being a patchy entertainer. However, the patches which entertain do it well, and that might just be all you need this weekend.