Telugu films starring major stars always capitalize on their stardom, often making their characters in the movies larger than life. Nagarjuna himself has been a part of mainstream hits such as Sreenu Vaitla’s ‘King’, which was a fun, no-brainer mad capper and breezy romcoms like Vijay Bhaskar’s ‘Manmadhudu’. Nagarjuna – Nani’s latest outing, ‘DevaDas’ treads a path in between the two – tries to be a simple movie, unfortunately, with unrealistic subplots and glaring loopholes!
A flamboyant don, Deva (played by Nagarjuna), meets an upright, simpleton ‘MBBS, MS, Gold Medalist’ Dr. Das (played by Nani). This doctor-patient relationship grows from an overbearing goon arm-twisting a young and naïve doctor, to a strong friendship between a doctor and his lone friend, a robinhood-like don. The rest, as I said, is a botchy, loophole-filled narrative, which neither keeps you stay invested, nor adds any value to any of its characters. Director Sriram Aditya, who has also written this movie, uses his actors as mere stereotypes, by making all his characters one dimensional with no layer giving them a flat character arc. Agreed that we as Telugu audiences love and adore our larger-than-life ‘heroes’ in the movies, but, if a character is not given enough weight, it falls flat. Barring Dr. Das (to a certain extent), none of the other characters evoke any emotion or connect with the audiences. His screenplay in the first half is uneven especially in the first 30 minutes, when the narrative cuts across the lives of Deva and Das without a smooth transition. At 2-hours-and-44-minutes, it is way too long, and the makers seem to waste a lot of time in setting up the theme and over indulge in the second half trying to glorify both the male leads.
A mention of the catchy music by Mani Sharma, as a couple of songs are quite hummable. Though some songs like the over-indulgent ‘Lakumikara’, mixing holi with dahi-handi and Ganesh Chaturthi, was a drag and seem to be in the movie just to let Nagarjuna flaunt his perfectly shaped abs! Among the characters, the one that has some layers is Dr. Das and Nani plays it with complete conviction. Even though his scenes as a medical practitioner seem contrived, his honesty and endearing nature makes the viewers overlook these flaws. He, along with Vennela Kishore, deserve to be praised for their impeccable comic timing, and sharing better chemistry than Nani shares with Rashmika Mandanna. Speaking of the girls, both Rashmika Mandanna and Akanksha Singh get a raw deal, where both their characters have good potential but are relegated to the background. Nagarjuna uses his charm and wit to his advantage and plays a one-tone larger-than-life don, but it is such a poorly written character, with no justification whatsoever for his Robinhood-like compassion or an explanation for Das and Jahnavi’s (played by Akanksha Singh) empathy towards a criminal. Honestly, I waited till the end for Deva’s story to be revealed to explain the gaps that were left in the narrative all along, but they remained as glaring loopholes. Even a charming Kunal Kapoor makes a majorly disappointing Telugu debut as the villain and practically gets nothing to do.
Two of the most adored romantic heroes unite for the first time but are let down by a weak script and poorly-etched characters. Imagine how insipid Devdas will be, without his Paro or Chandramukhi. Nagarjuna-Nani starrer DevaDas is equally bland without his Paro (script) and Chandramukhi (characters).
My Rating: 2/5 (0.5 only for Nani and because it is not unbearable)