Shailaja Reddy Alludu Review: A formulaic film for the masses
Unlike Maruthi’s previous outings, Shailaja Reddy Alludu is like a throwback to those family dramas of the 80s that will appeal to fans of stories centring on the ‘Alludu-Atha’ conflict
Director Maruthi has a predilection for stories that show his protagonist dealing with a disorder. Be it Nani in Bhale Bhale Magadivoy (absent-mindedness), Venkatesh in Babu Bangaram (hyper-empathy), or Sharwanand in Mahanubhavudu (obsessive-compulsive disorder), the director has been persistently drawn to such themes. Keeping the tradition alive, Maruthi has come up with a story soaked in ego and narcissism in his latest outing Shailaja Reddy Alludu.
Cast: Naga Chaitanya, Anu Emmanuel, Ramya Krishna, Vennela Kishore
The film has an impressive cast – Naga Chaitanya and Anu Emmanuel as the lead pair, Ramya Krishna in a pivotal role, Vennela Kishore as the protagonist’s sidekick and Prudhvi in a humorous role. The premise is also a familiar one: The happy-go-lucky Chay (Naga Chaitanya) falls at first sight for his neighbour, Anu (Anu Emmanuel), who’s the daughter of Shailaja Reddy (Ramya Krishna), a manifestation of ego and narcissism. The protagonist’s father, who’s equally egocentric, complicates the proceedings in a momentary lapse of judgement. The story then shifts to Anu’s native village near Warangal with Chay caught between his father and tyrannical atha to pass the test of commitment.
Unlike Maruthi’s previous outings, Shailaja Reddy Alludu looks like a throwback to those family dramas of the 80s. The director follows the traditional movie-making pattern – a punch-line by the hero’s side-kick, elevation scenes and bombastic background score when our hero gets into action mode, a family conflict, a few underdeveloped characters to offer some entertainment, and finally, the predictable resolution.
The first hour keeps us engaged with Maruthi's trademark candyfloss entertainment, romance and action sequences. However, the narrative is stretched post-intermission with predictability ruining the fun, but we nevertheless wait to see how the drama unfolds.
Twenty minutes into the second hour, the film tries, unsuccessfully, to channel the simplistic comedy-of-errors format of Srinu Vaitla’s films and the family melodrama of Super Good Films' early hits. But despite a script that shows creative bankruptcy, it’s commendable that the director does not portray either Ramya Krishna or Murali Sharma as an embodiment of evil.
There is a hat-tip to feminism too in the film involving Ramya Krishna’s character that falls somewhere between her iconic Neelambari (Narasimha) and Sivagami (The Baahubali franchise).
The film also benefits from some fine performances. Naga Chaitanya is at ease and doesn’t miss a beat. Ramya Krishna plays her part with both heart and heft; she lends credibility to the sluggish second hour that is plagued by song breaks. Equally charming are Vennela Kishore and Prudhvi, who bring the house down with their comic timing. Anu Emmanuel carries herself well throughout the film. She conveys emotional vulnerability and confidence in scenes involving Ramya Krishna. Naresh Vijaya Krishna is in good form and delivers a restrained performance.
Gopi Sundar’s music and background score fit the bill and three songs – the title song, Egiregire and Anu Baby – are a joy to watch. Shailaja Reddy Alludu is an old-school, formulaic film that will resonate with those who find comfort in its familiarity and are excited by stories that revolve around ‘Alludu-Atha’ conflict.