Andhra Pradesh

Where are the laughs?

Falling flat:Venkatesh and Nayantara star in Babu Bangaram.

Falling flat:Venkatesh and Nayantara star in Babu Bangaram.  

This nostalgic trip is far from fun to declare that ‘Bobbili Raja’ is back

Nostalgia is good when a filmmaker knows to cleverly weave it into a plot. Babu Bangaram celebrates 30 years of Venkatesh’s career and is a nod to some of his big hits, the obvious one being Bobbili Raja . The throwback to the 80s and 90s happens through an action-comedy that rides on a flimsy story.

In a brief opening episode we see an aged Venkatesh, looking as though he stepped out of the sets of Suryavamsam . A Good Samaritan, he breathes his last in the only hospital in the village after asking the only doctor to first attend to a pregnant woman. His grandson inherits this character trait of putting others before him and trying to make the world a better place.

A conventional hero does nothing wrong. This hero doesn’t like bloodshed even when he’s beating up goons. In a scene, he uses a towel filled with pomegranates to beat the thugs and make them believe they’re shedding blood. ACP Krishna (Venkatesh) brings petty thieves to book in a fun manner, sometimes even gets them medical care. His assistants, which include Brahmaji and Vennela Kishore, consider him Mother Teresa reborn!

Director Maruthi gave us a fun outing with his previous film Bhale Bhale Magadivoy , and probably thought he could pull off another wafer-thin plot.

While the gags in that film were fun, the ones in this rarely work. Plenty of lame sequences play out in the name of fun. Prudhvi is a ‘bathai’ merchant and there’s a reference to Raghavendra Rao’s films where fruits find a place in courtship.

The big problem with Babu Bangaram , besides the bland comic portions that feature many known names like Prudhvi, Fish Venkat and Brahmanandam, is its apology of a plot. The storyline is predictable and the fun is uninspiring.

For a long time, we see Shailaja (Nayantara) fending off a group that wants to know the whereabouts of her father. You don’t get the feeling that she or her family is really in danger as nothing much happens for about half the film barring a couple of warnings. The key twist gives the film some momentum before it gets insipid, again, in a whirlpool of gags.

The 80s and 90s hangover works occasionally. Accompanied by Ghibran’s background score, when Venkatesh takes on his opponents with the ‘ayyo ayyo ayyayyo’ drawl, it’s fun. Now and then hit songs of those decades are used.

The scenes that try to establish its lead actors with hearts of gold look quite dated. The merry go round between Venkatesh, Sampath and Posani in the later half is too drab to be salvaged by Brahmanandam and Co. Sowcar Janaki is good in her role. Murali Sharma is wasted.

Venkatesh and Nayantara make for a good looking on-screen couple.

He does what he can to bring some fun into the film. She is impeccably turned out. A couple of pleasing numbers by Ghibran are picturised beautifully.

There’s nothing else in the film to rave about. And, are so many references like ‘Venkatesa’, ‘Om Namo Venkatesa’, ‘devuda’… necessary to add to hero worship?

Babu Bangaram shows how a film can fall flat if it banks only on a quirky character trait and doesn’t bother with a reasonably good plot or a coherent narration. The ‘ayyo ayyo…’ line lingers, because it’s apt to describe the experience of watching the film.

— Sangeetha Devi Dundoo

Babu Bangaram

Cast: Venkatesh, Nayantara

Direction: Maruthi Dasari

Music : Ghibran

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 1:07:23 AM |

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