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‘Venky Mama’ review: Venkatesh and Chaitanya breathe life into an old tale

Rashi Khanna, Naga Chaitanya, Payal Rajput and Venkatesh in the film

Rashi Khanna, Naga Chaitanya, Payal Rajput and Venkatesh in the film   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

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The uncle-nephew camaraderie works well, but there’s little else to root for

Everyone loves a good old-fashioned tale. We may not buy the idea that’s told in the story but if it’s narrated in a manner that makes us feel empathetic towards the characters, it’s a win. Venky Mama’s premise is an old one — horoscope predictions. A disclaimer states that the film doesn’t endorse superstition. Irrespective of whether we believe in astrological predictions or not, the story of an inseparable uncle and nephew where one of them is danger can keep us hooked and make us hope that faith, in this case unbridled love, can move the proverbial mountains.

To a well respected patriarch of a village (Nasser), horoscope readings mean everything. He opposes his daughter’s wedding to the man of her choice because their horoscopes don’t match. If they get married, the predictions have it that they will lose their lives before their child turns one. Destiny has its way and they die in a road accident, leaving behind their little son. The grandfather doesn’t want the grandson in his home because his horoscope holds something sinister. But the uncle Venkatratnam (Venkatesh) takes it upon himself to bring up the boy who instantly takes a shine to him.

Venky Mama
  • Cast: Venkatesh, Naga Chaitanya, Rashi Khanna and Payal Rajput
  • Direction: K S Ravindra aka Bobby
  • Music: Thaman

This whole idea might seem dated and boring but when the little boy hugs his uncle, it seems like the beginning of a moving family drama.

From this moment, the bond between the doting uncle and nephew takes over. Venky gives up his dream of joining the Army and stays single, attending to his nephew 24/7.

Though there are two female leads, Harika (Rashi Khanna) and Vennela (Payal Rajput as the school teacher), the real love story is between Venky mama and Karthik alludu (Naga Chaitanya). Chaitanya with his boyish demeanour shows a mix of awe and affection for his real and reel-life uncle. Venkatesh features in a retro song and we see shades of his vintage star persona in a few scenes that he completely owns and shines.

The alludu tries to be the matchmaker for his mama and the teacher, while the mama tries to make the alludu patch up with his college sweetheart, Harika. All this should be fun. The principal cast has good comic timing, and Vidyu Raman and Hyper Aadhi offer additional support, but the quality of humour is mostly lowbrow. There’s a truly hilarious scene where Chaitanya and Aadhi are dodging from being photographed. The rest of it is rather lame. Sample this: Venkatesh chases Rashi to find out why she broke up with Chaitanya. But thanks to a sidekick’s interpretation, Rashi and Vidyu think he’s a skirt chaser. Despite Rashi and Vidyu sharing a great rapport, these episodes aren’t fun. The same goes for the scenes where Chaitanya and Aadhi chase Payal for the sake of Venkatesh. Surely the film could have done with better comedy than toilet humour and bedroom jokes.

Payal speaks in a strange mix of Telugu and Hindi and a sidekick comments that it sounds like a partially dubbed Hindi film. Even if that had been leveraged with witty lines, it would have led to laugh aloud moments. The humour falls flat here as well.

There’s some hope of a gripping emotional tale when Nasser makes a revelation in the pre-intermission portion that makes his wife (Geetha) and us, the audience, understand the gravity of the situation. But the film goes downhill when the action shifts to Kashmir. From a mile, it’s easy to guess what Venky mama will do. The end is clichéd.

The only thing that works is the uncle-nephew combination. Both Venkatesh and Chaitanya make the film watchable and their coming together needed a better story and script. Rashi Khanna has a charming screen presence and emotes effortlessly. Rao Ramesh and Prakash Raj are cast in parts that feel very repetitive.

Barring an odd funny situation and the uncle-nephew camaraderie, there’s little else to root for.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 10:32:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/reviews/the-uncle-nephew-camaraderie-works-well-but-theres-little-else-to-root-for/article30296200.ece

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