Bharat Ane Nenu (BAN) was perhaps one of the most awaited Telugu movies. Typically, a Mahesh Babu-starrer comes with its own bag of expectations. Moreover, this big-ticket film was coming after a spate of average fares. Also, the name of Koratala Siva, the man behind three blockbusters, one of which stars Mahesh Babu (Srimanthudu), has added to the audience curiosity.
There have only been a handful of political drams in Telugu cinema. It’s hard not to compare Sekhar Kammula’s Leader – that was released in 2010 – and Siva’s Bharat Ane Nenu. Both the movies start off with the death of the Chief Minister, and the responsibility of taking care of the State of Andhra Pradesh (BAN shows an undivided state), obviously falling into the hands of the elder son. Of course, there isn’t any other way for a person in his 20s to become the chief minister of an Indian state overnight.
And, like in Leader, the head of the ruling party controls the actions of his members (Kota Srinivasa Rao in Leader; Prakash Raj in BAN).
Despite the rehashed elements, BAN has got some powerful messages to deliver. Bharat, while taking the oath as CM, stammers a bit at the Antahkarana Shuddhi phrase, and the very next day, a daily publishes an article making fun of him. Bharat is not one to let it go; at the same time, he won’t seek revenge just for the heck of it. In a bid to make the city a better place, he increases the fines of traffic offenders by a hundred times, and, says he did with “Antahkarana Shuddhi”, when questioned by the same reporter who ruffled his feathers. That’s what success is, for Bharat. It’s speaking with actions!
Mahesh Babu must have had fun playing Bharat. Every time, he says, “Madam Speaker,” in the Assembly, the audience knows that there’s a twist in the tale. Moreover, the emoji-emulating faces of Posani Krishna Murali bring in the laughs. He knows what cracks up the viewers, and he does it astoundingly.
Do writers of Indian cinema write their screenplays keeping in mind certain pockets of audiences? This scene is for the fans… this scene is for the critics… this song is for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ centres? I, honestly, feel that Kiara Advani’s character was added to the script in the final minute. Her presence brings nothing to the table. Even before I began to register her in my head, she was gone for a period of twenty-thirty minutes. Maybe, she was required to give the media a warning (or, a lesson if you want a kinder word).
It’s sad that women are roped in as leads and offered little screen time, and even littler screen weight. Had she been billed as a supporting actor, there wouldn’t have been romantic (and boring) songs, and the rough edges would have gotten a smoother finish, too.
However, director Siva isn’t fond of foregoing the format of commercial filmmaking. The hero still gets to beat up the bad guys, once before the interval and once near the climax and a couple more in-between.
Similarly, Siva sticks to the rulebook while introducing the antagonists, predictably seen smoking and drinking. Prakash Raj and company down hard liquor, whereas the beloved CM of AP opts for a cup of coffee. Originality is not for these writers.
There are powerful dialogues and power-play between the characters of Prakash Raj and Mahesh Babu, but there is nothing really novel in this film.
For Mahesh, Siva must be a lucky charm!