Despite all the fanfare that Varudu gives pretty much everything except its villain, the movie derives every ounce of its strength from its villain. Though designed to make the good look good, Varudu's evil overtakes the good and ends up looking far better than it.
The movie begins by glorifying the honorable qualities of Sandeep (Allu Arjun), a modern party-going son of rich parents with the extravagance of moral values of generations ago. When his parents (Ashish Vidyarthi & Suhasini) tell him they'd like to see him get married, he agrees, and much to their bewilderment, asks them to look for a bride for him.
What most of today's generation would consider a frightening gamble, Sandeep stretches to stupefying proportions - he vows to not even take a look at his bride or her photograph until they're both on the pelli-peetalu. What happens during the wedding and how the villain who enters the picture is dealt with forms the rest of the story.
The first half of the movie is spent in paying homage to the institution of marriage and in telling you why some of the technicalities of a typical Hindu wedding ceremony matter as much as they do. It's an undeniably beautiful concept for a film to be dealing with, and does have quite a few heartstrings tugged at by the time the hero and heroine finally get to see each other. However, there's a good chance that people will find all this less than engaging. That is because this kind of an idea is best left to the sugar-candy specialists who'd are good at making you feel guilty that you haven't married yet, or worse, that you haven't married the right way.
The publicity stunt over the heroine's identity was evidently written into the script. In fact, at this point of the film's release, people are eagerly sitting through the first weddingy, bantery half possibly more because of this very intrigue, and not really because Gunasekhar builds up any Hum Aapke Hain Kaunish camaraderie or drama. This novelty is probably already wearing off, so there's that half gone to the hatchet.
Which brings us to the better half of the movie. Despite the cheesiness of the fights and chases, and despite the absence of comedy, the second half of the flick is fairly entertaining fare, mostly because of its villain. Arya, who plays Diwakar the villain, manages to make you forget this movie even had a first half. Don't get us wrong - his role of the village drama-artiste who takes his villainous roles too seriously, is not an artfully written character, and tilts more towards being a campy Mogambo. But as the pivot of Varudu, he is great redemption for the rest of the flick.
Needless to say, Arya overshadows Arjun in post-experience recall value. He glowers and fights to only semi-menacing effect thanks to the script, but ends up triumphantly as the most enjoyable character in the flick. Arjun is bright and energetic, but he hasn't that much to do by way of romance or comic dialogues - he just has to be Superman. By the way, it's also pretty unreal to watch him play a groom reveling in happiness at his wedding almost more than a shy bride would.
The heroine acts well, and her work in the future might be interesting to watch out for. Suhasini, Ashish Vidyarthi, Sayaji Shinde, Ahuti Prasad and others are their usual talented selves, though none of these roles have any real energy. And the rest of the wedding party, that is reportedly made up of several real families, is pretty amateur.
Mani Sarma churns out some rather colorless fare, save for a few tunes including the signature of the flick. The visuals aren't impressive, and for a film supposedly centred round a wedding, the wedding set looks pretty synthetic, as do most of the stunts. However, the final fight between Arya and Arjun has been choreographed well.
Well, Varudu might get its audiences because of a lack of a solid menu of better options for the next few weeks at least. Catch this if you're caught movie-less.