@Narthanasala Review: An inconsistent, farcical comedy
This forgettable affair is filled with stereotyped characters that reinforce a lot of cliches and tests our patience despite the two-hour runtime
Narthanasala (1963) is regarded as one of the all-time classics of Telugu cinema. The historical period drama based on Mahabharata’s Virata Parvam focused on the trials of the Pandavas, who lived incognito during their exile. In it Arjuna, played by NT Rama Rao, lived in the garb of a woman as Bruhannala. On the heels of that iconic role, debutant Srinivas Chakravarthi has arrived with a modern story titled @Narthanasala. The film shows Naga Shaurya as Radha Krishna, a self-defence trainer, who pretends to be gay to escape a forced marriage and marry a girl of his choice. To his own surprise, he gets a proposal from a man, Raja (Ajay).
Direction: Srinivas Chakravarthi
Cast: Naga Shaurya, Ajay, Kashmira, Jayaprakash Reddy, Yamini Bhaskar
The story has lots of scope to excite the viewer with interesting characterisations and humour, but Srinivas Chakravarthi transforms it into a forgettable affair that sinks without a trace. If you expect anything other than stereotyped characters reinforcing a lot of cliches and insulting a particular community's sentiment, you are in for disappointment. The first hour itself tests your patience with its overdose of banalities. The director throws in a riveting twist at the interval point and just when you think there is a more interesting plot point building up, it all fizzles out. The second hour is filled with predictable misunderstandings and manipulations which further slacken the film’s pace. The narration by this point slips into an inconsistent, outrageous and farcical comedy without much of a story.
Naga Shaurya slips effortlessly into his role, but he gets complacent and practically sleepwalks through some of his scenes. Jayaprakash Reddy does everything in keeping with the film’s tone. He delivers some of the film’s wittiest lines and has you laughing out loud. Yamini Bhaskar and Kashmira have no story arc of their own and never feel properly incorporated into the story. Swara Sagar Mahathi is unable to recreate the magic of Chalo, and gives us some ordinary compositions.
Even with a runtime of just a little over two hours, @Narthanasala feels really long because there’s little happening in terms of its screenplay, which is devoid of surprises.