Telugu Reviews

The People’s Prince: Srimanthudu Review

Srimanthudu literally means ‘wealthy man’. And the srimanthudu in the film, Mahesh Babu, is not just wealthy, he’s good at practically everything. The ideal son, the ideal boyfriend, great looking (no surprises there), great at studies, great at breaking bones (the crack of bones is the most frequent sound effect in the film), great at giving advice, generous – the list goes on. The srimanthudu is essentially a ‘Chaala Manchodu’ (a very good man).


The story revolves around Harsha (Mahesh Babu), son and heir of business tycoon Ravikant (Jagapthi Babu). Harsha lives in his own world – a Rama Navami street celebration with his company’s employees is more interesting to him than a high society party. He doesn’t want to take the reins from his father. Instead, inspired by the woman he loves, he goes on a journey to bring changes in his hometown, where he is welcomed by one goon after another. Oorinunchi chaala theeskunnanu..thirigi iccheyaali, lekpothey laavu ayipothanu (‘I’ve taken a lot from my hometown, I need to give it back, else I will become fat’) is the main concept behind Srimanthudu.

Mahesh Babu seems at ease as Harsha. The brooding look is nothing new to him, and he delivers his lines with a casual élan. No yelling, not a single excessive decible. The fact that Mahesh is not the most expressive actor around is no surprise. But I couldn’t help wonder – just what about his brand of performance captures the hearts of the Telugu audience? Some actors have to dance, some have to fight, some have to deliver punchy dialogues in a row to make the crowd cheer. But all Mahesh has to do is walk. In casuals, in a suit, or as in Srimanthudu, in a blue lungi folded at his knees. In dance sequences, his face seems stuck with that innocent smile, reminiscent of amateur actors. Yet, his fans clearly find even that awkwardness enjoyable.

The first half of Srimanthudu has some great moments. The scene where Mahesh drives in circles around Shruti’s hostel just to get a glimpse of her. The camaraderie between the lead pair in the song ‘Jatha Kalise’. Shruti Haasan delivers a memorable performance of her own, and remarkably, holds her own in a Mahesh Babu film. Pleasantly, there is no forced comedy, and Vennela Kishore manages to make the audience laugh with his antics.


Where Srimanthudu falls short is its slow-paced, highly predictable screenplay. Stunts are the answer to every knot in the story. All Mahesh has to do it casually break a goon’s hand or leg, and toss it away. Problem solved. (Just what Prabhas had to do in the director’s previous film, Mirchi.)

Speaking of goons, Sampath, the villain, seems to be stuck with the same role in every Telugu movie. Even his clothes are the same – in Mirchi, S/o Sathyamurthy and now Srimanthudu. Except that he swapped the towel around his neck for a dupatta this time.

Srimanthudu has elements of Swades, a film about a NASA scientist who returns to his hometown and brings positive changes. But Swades was rooted in realism, and Srimanthudu is packed with the stereotypes of commercial entertainment. Anything to ‘suit the audience’.