With some films, you reconcile to watching staid, oft-repeated storylines that don’t budge from the formulaic template. A few other films have the promise of holding your attention with something wacky. At times, even if what unravels on screen seems slightly raw and amateurish, you overlook the rough edges and hope for a gritty ride that mainstream Telugu cinema doesn’t always offer.

Bangaaru Kodipetta belongs to the second category, with a story woven around a group of underdogs — characters many of us don’t give a second thought to. Bhanu Pinisetty (Swati), dressed in clothes borrowed from high-end stores, hard sells an energy drink with the lure of gold coins at a mall. Her job is at stake and she needs money for her dream home. Vamsi (Navdeep), her colleague and a petty thief, drives a rickety old Maruti 800 that might come apart any moment. On a different track, there’s a pizza delivery boy Venu who dreams of becoming an actor. Then, there are estranged brothers Yerra Babu and Dora Babu, one of whom needs money to repay debts.

To this set of characters, bring in a crime-comedy plot of diverting a truck with a few cartons of gold biscuits and coins and you’d expect an irreverent film like Swamy Ra Ra. Bhanu and Vamsi are neither professional crooks nor trust each other completely. The one-upmanship between them brings in more players.

All this should have heightened the drama but Bangaaru Kodipetta plods along at a snail’s pace, unsure of itself, with jerky moments, just like the hero’s rusty old car and we sigh at the lost potential. The pace isn’t the only pitfall. Stunt masters Ram-Laxman may be good at their craft but are definitely not great actors; and less said about the actor who plays Venu, the better.

Mahesh Shankar tries to lift the film with his quirky and refreshing music but that alone isn’t enough. A little girl trying to bridge the gap between estranged brothers Yerra Babu and Dora Babu could have provided the required emotional hook to the crime-comedy caper but instead, each time she goes “Pedananna…” the audience sighs and moans.

The director gets his act together in the last 20-25 minutes and ties up the different threads to the story, making the film come alive. We only wish the breath of fresh air had come in earlier.

Swati and Navdeep are the saving grace of this film. In the first few minutes when Swati takes in the dismissive looks of shoppers at the mall, braves a smile and parrots a few English lines she’s memorised, she shows her mettle. Navdeep is earnest but his part isn’t fleshed out enough to make him shine through.

Bangaaru Kodipetta is up your alley if you like unconventional storylines and characters but keep an energy drink in hand, just in case…

BANGARU KODIPETTA

Cast: Navdeep and Swati

Direction: Raj Pippalla

Music: Mahesh Shankar

Bottomline: A good idea on paper that lacks the zing on large screen.