‘Bro’ movie review: Pawan Kalyan, Sai Dharam Tej cannot save this bore

Barring the occasional fun banter between uncle-nephew duo Pawan Kalyan and Sai Dharam Tej, director Samuthirakani’s Telugu film ‘Bro’, written by Trivikram Srinivas, is drab

July 28, 2023 03:37 pm | Updated 05:05 pm IST

Pawan Kalyan and Sai Dharam Tej in Samuthirakani’s Telugu movie ‘Bro’

Pawan Kalyan and Sai Dharam Tej in Samuthirakani’s Telugu movie ‘Bro’

When a film banks heavily on a star’s hits from the past, referencing songs and dialogues from his blockbusters, but fails to have fresh standout moments, it can end up as a huge misfire. The Telugu film Bro - the Avatar, starring uncle-nephew duo Pawan Kalyan and Sai Dharam Tej, is one such case in point. Director Samuthirakani who had written and directed the Tamil original Vinodhaya Sitham, reworks the plot to suit Pawan Kalyan’s and Sai Dharam Tej’s personas with the help of Trivikram Srinivas’ screenplay and dialogues. Yet, Bro ends up as a film that occasionally brings in some cheer but otherwise fizzles into a boring soap opera, despite a well-intended story. 

The core plot isn’t bad at all; it’s a relevant one that spells out the universal truth that none of us are indispensable; our home and workplace will adapt and move on irrespective of us. The story can work like a fable that makes the viewer take back a few lessons in humility. 

Samuthirakani and Trivikram Srinivas aptly call the central character Markandeyulu (Sai Dharam Tej). Mark, as his colleagues and friends refer to him, thinks he is presenting the best version of himself to his family and colleagues and that he knows the best. ‘I have no time’ is his constant refrain. 

Bro-the avatar (Telugu)
Cast: Pawan Kalyan, Sai Dharam Tej, Ketika Sharma
Direction: Samuthirakani
Music: S Thaman
Storyline: A self-centred man gets a second chance in life and gets to eat humble pie

Bro explores the possibilities when Mark’s life is brutally cut short and time presents itself in a larger-than-life avatar of Pawan Kalyan who is named, hold your breath, Titan! Mark bides for time to fulfil his responsibilities. Titan, who is addressed by Mark as ‘bro’, comes to an agreement with Mark.

The introduction sequence of ‘time’ aka Titan has ample references to the ‘power’ in the ‘power star’ label. He is also presented as a metaphor for a porter who transports people between different worlds, dressed like in the ‘Vayyari Bhama’ song from Thammudu. The fun has just begun, so we don’t mind it. Soon, there are references to Tholi Prema, Khushi, Jalsa, Bheemla Nayak… All this would have been more fun had Bro come up with its share of original moments that can stand the test of time and serve as pop culture references in the years to come. 

Among the songs that play at regular intervals, the most fun and foot-tapping ones are the brief segments from Jalsa and Bheemla Nayak, not the new compositions. So it is with the dialogues as well. Brahmanandam (in a cameo) and Pawan Kalyan have a fun face-off. The duo have sparkled in better-written comic stretches in the past; here, the writing does not have the zing. It never raises above fan service, referencing old dialogues and the star’s political career.

Much of the first hour is spent showing how Mark reassesses his perceptions of people, at home and at work. The sub-plots featuring the siblings are predictable and the office politics too do not hold many surprises. Priya Prakash Varrier, Raja Chembolu, Tanikella Bharani and Ketika Sharma (as Mark’s girlfriend) get a few minutes to make their presence felt. Vennela Kishore is underutilized too. 

The one supporting character who gets to make an impact is Rohini. For a large portion, her role is like that of a stereotypical screen mother and the story conveniently relegates her to the background. When she is brought back, she springs a welcome surprise. This portion and the final segment where Mark gets to look at life afresh and have a heart-to-heart conversation with Titan are the only significant portions of the film.

Bro does not make Pawan Kalyan or Sai Dharam Tej do anything special. They merely go through the different emotional beats required of them. We have seen better from both of them. The subpar visual effects are also a dampener.

In hindsight, Gopala Gopala, in which Pawan Kalyan played God incarnate, was a more entertaining film. Bro’s original, Vinodhaya Sitham, had a story centred on a middle-aged character (played by Thambi Ramaiah). The Telugu adaptation tweaks certain aspects to suit a younger protagonist and tries to pack in enough entertainment to cater to Pawan Kalyan’s fan base. Yet, lazily written and executed, it squanders its potential.

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