Simha celebrates brand Balakrishna. It thus also celebrates the brands that he in turn celebrates - his vamsam, his netturu, the works.
It speaks about the vanquishing of evil; heck its plot is chopping limbs, breaking bones and defying gravity. It is the kind of movie outing that'd make even the plainest of women feel overdressed for the occasion. Actually the kind of movie outing where women are just not welcome.
And first of all, it is a movie outing.
Indeed, some things never change. Where Telugu cinema is concerned, some things aren't allowed to. Simha is almost a loud assertion of that fact. Sure, Balayya now won't canoodle with navels as much as he did earlier, and reversing a train's motion purely by intent seems laughable now, but it is - gasp - refreshing to see the cinematic tradition of The Hero being kept alive with such grandeur.
The downside is that the cinematic tradition of the medical marvel, consisting of a man with multiple stab-injuries passionately finishing off a 100 goons in one shot, is also being kept alive. But that's an aside we'll forgive.
So Srimannarayana (Balakrishna) is this He-Man professor who protects students in his college from evil forces all around and within. His grandmother fears for his life and keeps asking him to stay out of trouble. He doesn't, of course, and things start spinning out of control when he has to protect a student Janaki (Sneha Ullal) from several oily crooks.
Next up is a flashback that everyone shares. Narasimha (Balakrishna again), Srimannarayana's father, was a doctor of royal lineage. He served the people of his town not just by means of his personal palace-turned-hospital, but by warding off the local set of villains who see peace only in evil. Needless to say, he was revered by the populace - or whatever survived of it - there. Srimannarayana, then, has to finish whatever and whoever his father wasn't able to.
The movie starts off, unfortunately, being desperately bouncy. Where the hero must show off his dance steps; or back off from the oversexed English teacher (Namitha) drooling over him; or fall for an unacceptably younger girl (Sneha Ullal) - it all smacks of retro.
Maybe that doubles the impact of his avatar in the second half, but the senior Balayya seems much more in tune with what people do want to watch. He's a saviour still, but a lot dignified and stately.
And the dialogues work exactly like they must in big-budget productions like these. The lines are well-timed, powerful and sharply delivered. Wanting to pander to the audiences is one thing, but when the audiences too want to pander to your every superstar whim and cheer on, it does make for a potent combination.
Like we said, Simha has gore - plenty of it - and the story is almost punctuation. The characters are black and white, and the direction is almost laugh-out-loud campy in several places. Such violence is almost outdated now, but the way the flick brings it all together is pretty impressive and exactly what the targeted fan base is looking for.
Performances aren't a problem here. The first half sees Balakrishna seem jaded and quite detached from the proceedings, but the second half is where he snaps out of it and delivers. As for the women, they're all wallpaper. No one makes an impact except for Nayantara, who emerges out of the whole deal looking graceful and putting up an expressive job. Namitha - as a character - is irrelevant, and Sneha Ullal does not act.
Kota has some biting villain lines, and Brahmanandam, Krishna Bhagawan, Ali and Jhansi contribute to an entertaining comedy track.
Well-shot though the movie is, the violence is likely to overshadow your memory of the visuals. The music is pretty banal, and most of the songs are jarring and far from catchy.
Simha isn't novel or extraordinary. Still, surprisingly, even though Dr. Narasimha in this one blurts "anti-arithmetic" once, it doesn't hurt you as a movie-watcher. Maybe some things are indeed better left unchanged.