The story of director Parasuram’s Sarkaru Vaari Paata rides on the line that money makes the world go round. Nearly all the principal characters fall on either side of the divide — those who toil to repay their small loans and are pushed to the brink, and those who do not repay thousands of crores to the banks. Through the 162-minute narrative, Mahi (Mahesh Babu) asks why ordinary people should be harassed to repay loans of ₹10-15,000 when a business tycoon can get away without repaying ₹10,000 crore.
The thought is hammered through a narrative that is entertaining at first, even though familiar and formulaic, but eventually gets preachy and overdrawn. Parasuram tailors each scene to befit the superstar image of the lead actor. Take the introduction scene for instance, where Mahesh says the now famous line, ‘you can steal my love, you can steal my friendship, but you cannot steal my money’. He bashes up thugs in the US while stating that for every blow he receives, he will return 72 (because 1$=72 rupees).
Had Mahi not been enacted by an actor with a superstar image, one would ask questions such as how he established a finance company in the US and what his credentials are. Instead, we hold on to the little information that the plotline discloses — that a boy whose parents took their own lives when unable to repay a bank loan, understands the power of those who lend as opposed to those who receive.
The Miami portions are the most entertaining part of the film, again, if you do not raise questions — such as if Kalavathi (Keerthy Suresh) is so silly as to toss her ID cards and passport to random people from whom she borrows money. Kalavathi is a glamorous hoodwinker and Mahi is so besotted that his otherwise sharp nose for money takes a backseat.
Sarkaru Vaari Paata
Cast: Mahesh Babu, Keerthy Suresh, Samuthirakani, Vennela Kishore
Direction: Parasuram Petla
Music: Thaman S
‘It’s a boy thing!’ he tells Kalavathi after trailing her to a university in Miami. As expected, the line elicits cheers. It goes with the mood of the romance track that works because of the timing between Mahesh, Vennela Kishore (as his colleague) and Keerthy. You can either be dumbfounded at the silliness of it all, like how Kishore watches in disbelief or give in to the laughs. It also helps to not ask why Kalavathi stays in debt when just one phone call to her dad (in Visakhapatnam) can bring a helicopter and gunmen to her rescue within seconds in Miami.
The first half rolls by with scenes and song sequences that capitalise on Mahesh’s boyish looks and the charming female lead. Thaman’s background music and the catchy ‘Penny’ and ‘Kalavathi’ songs establish the momentum. Credit also goes to choreographer Shekhar and cinematographer R Madhi for handling these portions well.
The initial confrontations between Mahi and Rajendranath (Samuthirakani) in Vizag, have some spark. But once the battle lines are drawn and the issue of a huge bank loan repayment is highlighted, the rest of it hurtles towards a tiresome battle of wits.
As Mahi repeatedly harps on the impact of loans on different sections of society, though well-intended, it gets boring. Mahi either sermonises or slaps people, from Brahmaji to Keerthy, to make them see things differently. Smarter writing would have certainly helped.
Tanikella Bharani, Nadiya, Geetha Bhasker and several others crop up but ultimately, it’s Mahesh Babu’s show that leaves no room for others. Only Vennela Kishore manages to steal some attention with his perfectly-timed expressions, even though he speaks less. Samuthirakani’s characterisation, too, offers nothing innovative.
It’s high time Mahesh looks beyond stories that have him returning from the United States to India on a mission, invariably delivering social messages and in turn saving people, the State or the country.