Two rival groups, two languages in war-torn Tiruppuram on the Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu border are barriers to the journey of a couple who leave no stone unturned to get together — sounds familiar? Well, that’s the strength of Chalo ; the director Venky Kudumula throws new light on a bunch of stereotypes and age-old rivalry associated with a Romeo-Juliettale. It’s been a while since campus love stories have worked magic on the big screen, the film does well to revive the genre. Chalo balances the mix between the raw-rural instincts and campus conflicts effectively and is replete with strong performances.
- Cast: Naga Shaurya, Rashmika Mandanna
- Music: Saagar Mahati
- Director: Venky Kudumula
- Plot: Two languages and communities are barriers to the union of a much-in-love couple
The engineering college is the only place where the Telugu-Tamil conflict doesn’t arise- at least on paper. Otherwise, there’s a border that divides the college into two sections, the university is shown to be affiliated to Telugu and Tamil on the either ends. There are campus fights to prove one’s supremacy over the other. While Telugu students wear shirts bearing photographs of Chiranjeevi and NTR, the Tamils do their bit with Rajinikanth. Vennela Kishore in the latter half of the film calls this a battle between sambar and dum biryani, Shankar and SS Rajamouli. How Hari, a notorious student from Hyderabad enters Tiruppuram, falls for a Tamil girl Karthika and solves a community conflict plaguing the village for six decades, makes for a hilarious ride. The comedy supersedes the action often, there are occasional sermons, but the film sustains its fizz.
Chalo rides on its actors’ histrionics and comic timing rather than its writing. The director picks enough familiar faces to represent the Tamil and Telugu sections of the town- the presence of Motta Rajendran being the cherry on the cake in the flashback episode. There are jokes on sambar, lungis, Telugu remakes and colour-not all of them work, some even defeat the purpose of why the film’s being made. Luckily, Naga Shaurya knows where to exaggerate and dumb down— his dead-pan expression with humour is his biggest strength. Watch out for the sequence where he kidnaps all the elderly men and women in town to know the reason behind the community rivalry.
Character actors too work their charm in Chalo; Naresh, Praveen, Satya, Raghu Babu, Vennela Kishore get ample scope to shine. The makers try to slot Rashmika Mandanna into the ‘lively-bubbly’ space of a female lead and she makes a confident Telugu debut. Chalo is a good showreel for Naga Shaurya; it’s within the commercial domain and also one where we see his range as an actor. The climax falls short on impact but peppy music, tongue-in-cheek humour and memorable performances make this a worthy popcorn entertainer.