Starring: Mahesh Babu, Shruti Haasan, Jagapati Babu
Directed by Koratala Siva
In an industry where weaving a story to suit the image of an A-list star is common, Mahesh Babu’s latest, Srimanthudu, takes a different course. Mahesh Babu, of handsome mien and an ability to pull off intense roles, is stripped off his stardom; the audience is offered an actor who is in complete control. The film tells the story of Harsha, the son of a billionaire, who adopts a village and finds solace in the process.
A simple tale then, and the plot of a hero solving others’ problems has been a staple of Telugu cinema. In Srimanthudu, filmmaker Koratala Siva and Mahesh Babu stay honest to the story without falling prey to needless ‘entertainment’. While S.S. Rajamouli’s Bahubali pulled off the feat of being accepted across India thanks to its universal theme, the soul of Srimanthudu lies deeply rooted in Telugu culture and issues plaguing the hinterlands of the two Telugu speaking states. A case in point—a big chunk is devoted to depicting life in a remote village being ravaged by mass migrations due to lack of livelihood.
While Mahesh Babu does his best, he’s ably supported by veteran actors Rajendra Prasad and Jagapati Babu, who bring authenticity to their roles. Shruti Haasan delivers a fine performance, on her character lies the onus of changing the course of the narrative. The film might lack a big-starrer firepower, but by letting go of such conventions, what we get in the end is a sensible film full of heart and humanity.