Film: 'Nagavalli'; Director: P. Vasu; Cast: Victory Venkatesh, Anushka, Kamalini Mukherjee, Richa Gangopadhyay, Avinash, Brahmanandam and Dharmavarapu Subramanyam; Music: Guru Kiran; Rating:**
P. Vasu's 'Nagavalli' is a remake of Kannada blockbuster 'Aaptha Rakshaka' starring Vishnuvardhan. It is also a sequel to Vasu's Kannada film 'Aaptha Mithra', which starred Vishnuvardhan and Soundarya, and Rajnikanth's Tamil film 'Chandramukhi'.
And these films were essentially inspired by the 1993 Malayalam hit film 'Manichitrathazhu'
The main problem with 'Nagavalli' is that the director has not been able to hold the audience's interest throughout the first half. The second half gains a little momentum but when the suspense starts unravelling, the director again falters and the pace becomes slow again.
The climax sequence makes little impact because of the director's eagerness to end the film. The comedy sequences do not make any impact. Less said about the quality of the classical songs and dances as both Anushka and Kamalini Mukherjee fail to bring charm in their dance movements.
Venkatesh's performance in the negative character of Raja Naga Bhairava is one of the positive elements of the movie.
The story revolves around a girl apparently possessed by a spirit. It starts off with mysterious goings-on in the house of a man with three daughters. He seeks the help of a priest to unravel the mystery, but after a while the priest wants to rope in a psychiatrist named Vijay.
The priest is convinced that the house is haunted by the spirit of Nagavalli, a danseuse. Vijay comes to the house and starts his investigation. He traces the happenings in the haunted house to the past where a cruel king, Raja Naga Bhairava Rajasekhara, kills the court dancer Nagavalli after she tries to elope with her lover.
Nagavalli's spirit wants to kill the cruel king. She finally takes revenge on the cruel king, who has now become a 125-year-old man hiding in a mountainous area. And with the revenge over, the problems in the haunted house are also solved.
Despite his advancing age, Venkatesh scores in the role of the cruel king, but he is not as energetic in the role of a psychiatrist. Anushka lacks the appeal to carry the role of Nagavalli and her spirit. Avinash excels in the role of the priest.
Technically, the film is not a patch on either 'Aaptha Rakshaka' or Tamil film 'Chandramukhi'. The dialogues by Parachuri Brothers could have been far better.
Guru Kiran's songs in the original Kannada version were great, but they fail to generate interest in 'Nagavalli'.
'Nagavalli' suffers because it fails to match up to 'Aaptha Mithra' and its sequel 'Aaptha Rakshaka' or even Rajnikanth-starrer 'Chandramukhi'.
But Venkatesh fans will like the film.