Majili Review: An emotional rollercoaster that largely works
Despite inconsistent writing, the lead characters and the straightforward performances keep you hooked
Director Shiva Nirvana's Majili is far from a perfect film, but it has an honesty and sincerity that is missing in our films today. The film's characters are so likeable and relatable that it's hard to judge them even when they do foolish things.
Naga Chaitanya is Poorna, a middle-class boy, who aspires to play for the Indian cricket team. He bumps into Anshu (Divyansha Kaushik), the daughter of a Naval officer (Atul Kulkarni) and soon they become close friends. His friendship for her turns into love, but her feelings for him remain platonic. Just as things are looking up for the pair, a series of unforeseeable events threaten Poorna's love life and destroy his career. He loses the battle with both his heart and head, and unable to come to terms with reality, he starts drinking. Amidst this emotional upheaval, he gets married to Sravani (Samantha Akkineni). His heart still yearns for his unattainable girlfriend, who has now moved away from Visakhapatnam. Poorna hardly speaks to Sravani, but she loves him, and they both suffer the bitter pain of unrequited love.
Cast: Naga Chaitanya Akkineni, Samantha Akkineni, Divyansha Kaushik, Rao Ramesh
Direction: Shiva Nirvana
Despite several hiccups, especially in the first hour, Majili is a commendable effort thanks to Shiva's depiction of love and pain. The love stories at the core of this film are complex and the narrative doesn’t offer a solution either. You can see Poorna coming alive each time he remembers Anshu, whereas when he is with his wife or father, he sits poker-faced, prone to violent outbursts or lost in a morass of grief.
It’s quite evident that Shiva has beautifully conceived his character, and he gives us some moments to understand them better. For example, in one scene, after an attack at the party office, Poorna retaliates and tells his friend how he betrayed his trust in him. In another scene, he questions his friend, who is about to get engaged, if he indeed has overcome his love failure and depression. There’s a sense of sadness and also sharp wit on display here.
The narrative meanders at times and there are some glaring plot holes especially when a few characters go missing abruptly. The film's second hour is predictable and the story seems a bit too stretched for its own good. The tonal shifts between the serious and funny moments aren't smooth. Yet, Majili is a movie that benefits from its talented cast whose presence and performance makes it worth watching.
Divyansha Kaushik, who makes her debut with this film, is sincere as the spunky Anshu. Naga Chaitanya and Samantha deliver wonderful performances, and their sparkling chemistry is palpable on screen. Chay performs gloriously, effortlessly slipping into Poorna's role. You feel sorry for him when is going through the pain and root for him when you see him change for the better. Samantha, who is winning laurels for her scintillating performances in films like U-Turn and Super Deluxe, charms the audience yet again with her tough and sensible act as Sravani. She is the soul of this film. Posani Krishna Murali makes quite an impression as Sravani's father, who meddles in his daughter’s life as she goes through an emotional turmoil. Rao Ramesh also delivers a strong performance and holds your attention.
Vishnu Sharma's cinematography captures the pulse of Visakhapatnam beautifully. The action and melodramatic sequences are competently handled. Gopi Sundar’s music is hummable and the background score by SS Thaman too works well.
Overall, Majili, despite some issues, is worth watching if only to fall in love with its lead characters and the straightforward performances.