SHORT TAKES Siddlingu is a must watch film – it attempts to think out of the box
The hero gets off at a busy Mumbai station and tells his buddy, “I'm going to take over the mafia in Mumbai”. The friend is flabbergasted but fans roar in applause. Hero reaches the ‘chawl' they're going to stay in, surveys Dharavi from the rooftop and declares, “I'm in love with a girl here.” “Who's that?” asks friend. ‘Meee' squeals the girl sitting behind me much to the discomfort of her boyfriend. Hero effortlessly takes control of the mafia, treats the police with utter disdain and has a pocketful of politicians acting like puppets. Hero, when he's not breaking bones shoots people like balloons at a exhibition, falls in love with the Police Commissioner's daughter and into the second half in a typical snazzy set a scantily clad lass sings, ‘we love bad boys, we wanna bad boys,' to wild applause. Bad is good today.
All this is in one of the Sankranthi releases “Businessman” which is doing great business and stars Mahesh Babu, the most popular Telugu actor today. Many a word is beeped out and the audience takes vicarious pleasure in guessing the cuss words beeped so shouldn't the lines be cut? I'm disappointed because I like Mahesh. He knows his limitations as an actor, is tastefully attired and his casual, clenched teeth dialogue delivery is endearing. There are more and more films today which seem to say that crime pays (“Mangatha” is another example) simply because the protagonist is played by a superstar. Mahesh should realise that he's played a character who'd usually get beaten to pulp by the hero in the end! Fans should treat stars as mere sources of entertainment. Most of them are mere idols who portray characters with skewed ideals.
The outrageous claims by some directors is making industry trade pundits squirm. While Lingusamy claims that he's going to remake “Vettai” in Hindi with Salman Khan and Ranbir Kapoor, our own Chandru declares he may direct the Telugu and Tamil versions of “Ko Ko” with Mahesh Babu and Arya respectively. Now the stars mentioned are not twiddling their thumbs desperate for offers. The more important fact is that both these films are damp squibs at the box-office. Even “Nanban” was a non-starter. The much hyped Shanker-Vijay combination has not worked the expected magic. “You press guys are to blame,” smirks a distributor in the know. “You guys attend these ‘success meets' thrown not even a week after the films release, swallow the improbable collections declared there and spit it out verbatim the next day. How many of you cross check with the hapless distributor?” Chandru goes on to claim he wanted to transform Srinagara Kitty into an ‘action hero'. Shouldn't his endeavour be just to make a sensible entertainer?
The producer of “Sidlingu”, Siddaraju definitely had a reason to throw a success party. The film, made on a practical budget will make a neat profit, says a distributor friend. It's a fairly engaging film marred by an unbelievably skewed second half. The debutant director Vijayprasad definitely shows promise. His shot taking, cutting and handling of the fringe characters in the film are laudable. Yogesh deserves a pat for attempting something off the beaten track. This is Ramya's most mature performance yet. You can judge an actors calibre by watching how they react in scenes where they don't have much to do. The day they stop gesticulating to garner unnecessary attention you realise they're no longer insecure as performers. Ramya is first rate and dubbing her own lines is definitely enhancing her performances.
S. SHIVA KUMAR