While watching director Anish Krishna’s Telugu film Krishna Vrinda Vihari (KVV) starring Naga Shaurya and Shirley Setia, it is tough not to be reminded of Ante Sundaranikii, which was released three months ago. The crux of KVV is similar to Ante… An orthodox family realising its hypocrisy of not being empathetic to a woman, while it is ready to bend backwards for a male in a tough situation. There are some ‘lies’ packed into this story as well. The family in question, again, is a conservative Telugu Brahmin household. However, KVV isn’t clear on how it wants to present its story; it ends up as a random mix of comedy, romance and unwarranted action drama.
Krishna (Naga Shaurya) hails from a village in the West Godavari district where his mother Amruthavalli (Radhika) has the last word. In the words of a bus driver, she is to that village what Sivagami is to Mahishmati. Young women in that village prefer to call Krishna anna (brother) than risk dating him.
When Krishna moves to the city to work in a corporate office, we get a staple dose of office humour, with Sathya and Rahul Ramakrishna as colleagues. The office is also filled with a bunch of people who look and behave like thugs. When Krishna takes a liking to his team lead Vrinda (Shirley Setia), a project manager uses these bouncer-like colleagues to put Krishna in his place. There is also a random action sequence in which the hero flaunts his six-pack abs and drives home the point that vegetarians can also have serious muscle power.
It takes a while before Krishna and Vrinda, after a lacklustre wooing game, fall in love and decide to face an issue that can be a hindrance to their wedding. Krishna concocts a lie, with the support of Dr Sathya (Vennela Kishore), after which his conservative family gets down from its high horse and is willing to look past cultural differences — Vrinda is from Punjab and her family isn’t so culture-appropriate (read, they drink and smoke).
Krishna Vrinda Vihari
Cast: Naga Shaurya, Shirley Setia
Direction: Anish R Krishna
Music: Mahathi Swara Sagar
Unlike Ante…, the male and female leads do not frankly discuss the ‘lie’ that was concocted to bring them together. Had they done that, the film would have ended at the midpoint and saved us the rest of the film. What ensues is a prolonged television soap kind of face-off involving Vrinda, Amruthavalli and Krishna’s grandmother (Annapurna). That project manager also resurfaces, serving to create trouble in the climax portion when Krishna has to dash to the airport (where else! even in 2022?) to make amends with Vrinda.
To be fair, the male lead’s character is written with some sensitivity — the manner in which he makes Vrinda feel safe even during a night out, how he understands her plight in a crucial situation and is willing to take a decision that his family would not approve of, and in the end showing a mirror to his mother’s hypocrisy. The female lead is also written fairly well, with her trying to make peace with Krishna’s family and asserting herself only when things go too far. Occasionally the comedy works, with Satya, Vennela Kishore, Rahul Ramakrishna and Brahmaji, but the comedy in one of Anish’s earlier films Ala Ela was a lot more effortless, and a riot.
Naga Shaurya puts up a spirited performance and Radhika and Annapurna, despite the one-sided and caricaturish characters written for them, have their moments. But, wonder why Radhika is always made to wear heavy jewellery. Shirley Setia tries to do her best but has a long way to go as an actor.
Krishna Vrinda Vihari is like one of those films we might watch when there is nothing else to do, but get disinterested after a point.