Venky Mama movie review: Old wine in an old bottle
If you can switch off your brain and enjoy seeing Venkatesh and Naga Chaitanya in action, with zero expectations, then, Venky Mama is for you
Telugu movie buffs know by now what to expect from a romantic family entertainer set in a rustic backdrop. We get to see an influential man who is well-respected by the community and stands by the downtrodden against tainted politicians. He has a heart of gold and would do anything for his family. Add in some adult jokes, big action sequences, and foot-tapping songs, and you have the recipe for a commercial potboiler. Venkatesh and Naga Chaitanya’s Venky Mama follows this formula and offers nothing new. The film is soaked in kitschy 80s nostalgia and is essentially an old-fashioned melodrama that quickly becomes a slog.
Venky Mama is about Naga Chaitanya's character, Karthik, an Indian Army Captain who was raised by his uncle, Venkata Ratnam aka Military Naidu (Venkatesh). The film takes an hour or so just to establish the relationship between the mama-alludu and the women in their lives. The screenplay thus takes too long to arrive at the core conflict.
A woman like Vennela (Payal Rajput) is hard to find. She stands faithfully by her man even though he is in no mood to get married until he meets his nephew. She plays a Hindi teacher, but you rarely see her in a classroom. In one instance, you see her trying to befriend her students discussing her relationship status and showing a willingness to live in a joint family. No wonder then that Karthik becomes a matchmaker and does his best to get her hitched to his mama.
Then we have this mama, who tries to find ways to rebuild a fractured relationship between his alludu and Harika (Raashi Khanna). Disguised as comedy, the sequences involving the mama-alludu, who try to play cupid for each other, are in bad taste. These clichés could have easily been avoided.
One assumes that the point Venky Mama wants to make about astrology is that even though God writes our fate, love alone can change it for good. However, the message gets lost along the way and the film suffers due to its mediocre script. It might have worked as an enjoyable comedy, but much of it is narrated as an emotional drama, resulting in several contrived scenes that fall flat.
The humour works when it is done intelligently, but the film’s slapstick sequences do not work at all — like the one in which Venkata Ratnam asks his mother to prepare chalimidi (a traditional rice sweet).
Venkatesh is at ease in a character we have seen him play many times before — the aforementioned man of strength with a heart-of-gold, and humour to boot. The blows and the look of pain on his face seem genuine and the film largely benefits from his performance. Naga Chaitanya fits the bill as Karthik and he delivers a few light moments. Hyper Aadi helps muster up a few laughs as well. Prakash Raj as Army Brigadier and Rao Ramesh as the baddie are reduced to caricatures. Nasser and Geetha, who do not get much scope to perform, just breeze through their roles.
To an extent, director Bobby does well to keep things moving without a dull moment. But that’s not enough for this story as the director clearly has the potential to make a better film than this.
Overall, the film is predictable and tiresome because its wafer-thin storyline is stretched way beyond its potential. If you switch off your brain and enjoy seeing Venkatesh and Naga Chaitanya in action, with zero expectations, then, this one is for you.