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'Bharat Ane Nenu' review: This promise ticks the right boxes

Mahesh Babu in ‘Bharath Ane Nenu’  

‘I don’t belong here’, Bharat Ram (Mahesh Babu) tells Varadaraju (Prakash Raj) when he’s asked to take over the Chief Minister’s chair that lies vacant after his father’s (R Sarathkumar) demise. A storm is brewing within the ruling party. Bharat, who has spent most of his growing years abroad and has channelled his void of missing out on parental love into academics, enters the imposing Chief Minister’s chamber. Everything is in order except the place card on the table. Bharat sits down and gently sets it straight. With this move, director Koratala Siva establishes what Bharat will do in power — he will set things right with quietude, kicking up a storm only if necessary.

There’s a certain classiness to this political drama set in undivided Andhra Pradesh. Bharat gets a taste of the city’s traffic, the chaos that unfolds in the legislative assembly and the lackadaisical attitude that penetrates all through the government machinery. His calm contrasts the din, which never gets deafeningly loud on screen. It’s as though we’re looking at the world through Bharat’s perspective. Koratala Siva harnesses Mahesh’s trademark style of emoting subtly and the actor delivers a fine, mature performance. Devi Sri Prasad’s music, Ravi K Chandran and Tirru’s cinematography are in sync with the slick presentation.

In the opening scene we learn that Bharat isn’t afraid to admit what he doesn’t know and enjoys the learning curve. ‘I am a fast learner,’ he says and lives up to it. The narrative traces the evolution of this outsider, who occasionally falters in Telugu and finds it easier to speak in English, into the son of the soil. The transformation is gradual, brought in by his empathy with people. Simultaneously, Bharat also plugs the gap in the family bonding.

This film is a sharp contrast to Shankar’s Mudhalvan (Oke Okkadu) where the face-off between Arjun and Raghuvaran and the events that follow on one day formed the film’s crux. This is a different stage. Bharat, too, takes unconventional decisions but the momentum builds slowly as he understands the deep-rooted rut he’s been pushed into and feels the need to clean it up.

It would have been easier to build a crowd-pleasing mass masala with this story. But the team takes the trickier route of doing it with restraint and still wins hearts. Ideas of local governance, better vigilance, and accountability on part of both the government machinery and people get discussed.

A stand-out sequence is a crucial press meet where Bharat tears into a section of media that thrives on personal slander stories for better TRPs.

Bharat Ane Nenu deserves a thumbs up for its well thought out plot and nuanced characters. Keeping us hooked to the narrative are Mahesh Babu, accompanied by Prakash Raj in another winsome and complex role, Rahul Ramakrishna, Rao Ramesh, Brahmaji and Kiara Advani among others. Kiara is impressive in her limited role and it will be interesting to see her in more substantial parts.

If there’s any grouse, it’s got to do with the film’s length. But it doesn’t really matter, since it’s not often that we get films that don’t take the audience for granted.

Bharat Ane Nenu

Cast: Mahesh Babu, Prakash Raj, Kiara Advani

Direction: Koratala Siva

Music: Devi Sri Prasad

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 11:54:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/bharat-ane-nenu-review-koratala-siva-and-mahesh-babu-serve-up-a-classy-political-drama/article23614964.ece

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