Many a time, while watching a well-made Hollywood rom-com, we wonder why this genre isn’t explored enough in Indian cinema. Slice-of-life films can be great fun when they hit the right note. Debutant Tharun Bhascker has written and directed one such film. Pelli Choopulu is effortlessly cool. Portions of what unfolds on screen could happen to you or those around you. It’s that real.
We’ve seen films where the key protagonists take up engineering out of compulsion, later summon courage and go against their parents’ wish, follow their passion and prove themselves. What if the guy is incorrigibly lazy to even work towards his dream? Prashant (Vijay Devarakonda) likes the idea of being a chef but if there’s an easy way to make money, by becoming a son-in-law to a business tycoon, he wouldn’t mind it. A mix-up brings him face to face with Chitra (Ritu Varma), an MBA who wants to further her dreams in Australia.
He’s a dreamer and she’s the practical one, willing to work and has sharp business acumen. Poles apart in their outlook to life, they find a small connect — both don’t like dousing a samosa in sauce. Real food, cooked from scratch, is what works for them. She suggests starting a food truck — less investment, better returns.
It’s a joy to watch the journey of these two characters. The parents, grandmother and their friends add to the humour. Priyadarshi who plays Kaushik, spouting Telangana dialect, is a riot. He, along with Abhay who plays the photographer friend, brings the house down on many occasions. Even small characters make an impact, for instance the little boy with a twinkle in his eyes, who sits through the ‘Pelli Choopulu’ conversation.
You know the protagonists will inevitably fall in love but the narrative keeps you hooked. The end is all heart without getting melodramatic. In 125 minutes and amidst all the laugh-aloud humour, Tharun makes a gentle, intelligent case for an educated, independent working woman. He also asks parents to not give in to societal pressure and give their children some time to find their calling.
Vivek Sagar’s music has hummable songs and a spot-on background score that elevates the film. Anish Kuruvilla returns as an actor and is a natural. Nandu appears in a brief role.
The film ultimately belongs to Vijay Devarakonda and Ritu Varma. Vijay lives his part of an affable guy who needs to be goaded to doing something worthwhile. It’s tough to think of anyone else in Ritu Varma’s role. Observe her in a scene in the café where she quietly registers the impact of what her father tells her about earning to fund her dreams in Australia. It looks like she does nothing, but she conveys the mood of a girl cornered.
From the décor of the houses to the interiors of the food truck, nothing looks fake. Many rom-coms make you laugh while in the cinema hall. Very few make an impact by portraying realistic characters. This falls in the second category.
Pelli Choopulu is fantastic. Don’t miss it.
Cast : Vijay Devarakonda, Ritu Varma
Direction : Tharun Bhascker
Music : Vivek Sagar
Rating : 4 stars