Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnu Katha Review: Pleasing drama makes up for flaws

Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnu Katha Review: Pleasing drama makes up for flaws

While VBVK is not devoid of shortcomings, its mighty heart and intriguing narrative hold our attention
Rating:(3 / 5)

A distinct attribute that’s inherent to Telugu cinema is that our films cannot be easily boxed into one genre and switch from one tone to the other as effortlessly as Vikram does in the climax of Anniyan/Aparichithudu. If you are watching a big-ticket Telugu entertainer, at one moment, it’s a comedy, and minutes later it is a violent actioner. The skill of the filmmaker lies in how effortlessly and organically he pushes the narrative from one mood to the other. In that sense, Vinaro Bhagyamu Vishnu Katha (VBVK) succeeds in switching genres without leaving a jarring effect.

Director: Murali Kishor Abburu

Cast: Kiran Abbavaram, Kashmira, Murali Sharma

In fact, when the protagonist Vishnu (Kiran Abbavaram) is about to share his backstory which forms almost the entirety of the runtime, he is asked about its genre. He calls it a mix of a rom-com and thriller that culminates as an intense action-drama, alluding to the tonality of the film. This comes with its own set of shortcomings. For instance, the romantic comedy angle is filled with futile attempts to evoke some laughs. These attempts feature the antics of Sharma (Murali Sharma with a very well-thought name, as you can see) and Darshana (Kashmira Pardeshi, struggling to emote) at their centre, grooving to popular dance numbers. Darshana, attributed to a poorly-written character coupled with equally poor performance, is rendered a dull, charmless character and even when we are expected to feel sad for her plight later in the film, we don’t feel an ounce of concern for her. 

Sharma happens to run a dog kennel, and Darshana is an aspiring YouTuber. How are they related to Vishnu, a librarian in Tirupathi with a golden heart? The answer to this question is also one of the core elements of the film: number neighbours, those with the same contact numbers with the last digit being the next higher or the lower number. 

Exposition aside, the film lays quite a bit of importance on the number neighbours concept and even uses it as a tool to conveniently resolve the primary conflict in the climax. In a way, the writing's choice to resort to this concept to save the day is the cut from the same fabric of heroes in social drama inspiring the masses to revolt through a speech or using social media to bring about a sudden dramatic shift. In that sense, logic and practicality can be questioned here and the convenience in the writing can be labelled a mere excuse. However, like Vishnu, who is committed to seeing and spreading only good in the world, the film truly believes that goodness can make this world a better place and makes this point multiple times. 

The protagonist’s character and virtue lend the film a nice, pleasing quality. In fact, the film opens in his childhood when a quarrel with their neighbours results in Vishnu’s parents being stripped of their honour in front of the whole neighbourhood. They end up dying by suicide. You see, the film takes the concept of neighbours seriously. 

Vishnu’s grandfather (Subhalekha Sudhakar, delivering a gem of lines every time he appears on screen) teaches the importance of virtue and the value of being a good Samaritan. Vishnu, the younger version of Relangi Mavayya, takes these words quite seriously and is always a shoulder to lean on. The quarrel from the opening scene finds a beautiful closure, one that begins on a heart-warming note, segues into a ‘mass’ action scene and ends in a Mahesh Babu-esque preachy zone. The film, thankfully, is not overly preachy. Likewise, I also found it interesting that when the antagonist’s intentions are revealed, they, too point at the goodness they have been deprived of in their life, compelling them to embrace the dark side. It was a nice touch, although I wish the film found more ways to reiterate its theme instead of communicating them verbally time and again.

While it falters as a rom-com, VBVK keeps you guessing as a thriller by placing its multiple open threads in front of us and manages to sustain our curiosity. Likewise, the way the story is bookended by the character of Rajan (Sarath Lohithaswa), the audience to Vishnu’s story, and a parallel track involving NIA are simple and smart touches to accentuate it above ordinary. They all culminate in a sequence that looks inspired by the climatic moments of Doctor, both in staging and usage of music, but it did make me smile. Chaitan Bharadwaj’s music, especially ‘Vaasava Suhaasa’, adds gravitas to this drama.

More than anything, VBVK is a dog-loving film, and like its protagonist, it has a heart of gold that compels you to look past the evident shortcomings.

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