Ganesh or Gunny (Rana Daggubati) is not your quintessential, selfless Telugu film hero. He doesn't bat an eyelid before snatching his friend's t-shirt or losing a fight if it means getting a huge sum of money.
The setting is Malaysia. Gunny lives a carefree life with his friends for company. In the temple of Batu caves, he spots Krishnaveni (Genelia), who awaits her boyfriend Kishore (Harshavardhan Rane) in vain.
She is kidnapped by goons who want to sell her to a brothel and is saved by Gunny in exchange for a huge sum. Gunny plans to get the money from her family, hoodwinks Krishnaveni into going home to India stating that her mother has suffered a heart attack.
Neither does Krishnaveni carry a mobile phone nor does she think of calling home to check! Oh well, we aren't supposed to ask questions in a mainstream potboiler. In India, Krishnaveni is to be married off against her wishes. For her father (Nasser), family pride comes foremost. Gunny is asked to stay till the end of the wedding before he can be paid the money. He discovers that the wedding will bring her no happiness, and aided by her mother, leaves the village.
We see snatches of ingenuity in the way Prakash Toleti captures the couple on the run. Subbaraju (a relative of Krishnaveni) and co move to Malaysia to track her down and meanwhile, the original boyfriend returns in search of Krishnaveni.
Naa Ishtam rides on the premise that a self-centred hero, who places himself before others, will try every trick in the book to protect and win the girl he loves. For a change, it's nice to see a hero show his shades of grey. Barring that, there's nothing new. It's a film where you will see the mandatory songs (including a needless item number) and stunt sequences. Rana lets his guard down and plays to the gallery for the first time. He uses his height to advantage in the action scenes, does somersaults with ease, shows his dancing prowess and woos Genelia. As a performer, he shows improvement. Genelia sails through the role with a restrained and mature performance. It's the shoddy writing that lets her character down. It's tough to believe that a woman of today wouldn't know where her boyfriend intends to work or his email id and will meekly await his return. The boyfriend is equally perplexing. He is shown smashing his mobile phone in one scene and we gather that he doesn't buy another mobile. The couple doesn't seem to have common friends and hence, he goes around Malaysia searching for his girlfriend with a photograph! The other characters like Nasser, Subbaraju, Uttej, Ali (as the perpetually drunk motor mouth), Brahmanandam and Shawar Ali (cast as a typical Telugu film villain) are incidental to the story.
Naa Ishtam is enjoyable in parts and Chakri's music deserves a mention. The second half has too many loose ends to overlook.
Keywords: Naa Ishtam review