Valmiki review: The film is Varun Tej's show all the way
Valmiki is a faithful remake of the Tamil blockbuster Jigarthanda
Critic's Rating: 3/5
Friday 20 September 2019
Valmiki aka Gaddhalakonda Ganesh
Varun Tej, Pooja Hegde, Atharva Murali, Mrinalini Ravi, Krishna Manjusha
This is an official remake of a super hit Tamil dark comedy Jigarthanda. The Karthik Subbaraj directed 2014 movie won critical acclaim for its novel story and treatment. Since I have not seen the original movie, I cannot comment whether the film is faithful to the original or deviated from it but observing Harish Shankar's work well, we can assume that he has told the story in his way. He had drastically changed the Dabangg when he remade it into Telugu as Gabbar Singh. He has taken credit for changes for the story of Jigarthanda as well.
Coming to Valmiki (the title is changed to Gaddalakonda Ganesh just a few hours before the release), the film begins with the introduction of Ganesh the gangster and the aspiring filmmaker. Their two stories run on parallel initially and go on a single track from the mid-point The first half of the movie runs on regular fashion with some comic portions showing off the gangster activities of Varun Tej in a funny way. It holds our interest with many funny scenes. A scene of a rowdy giving Sagara Sangamam CD to his family to watch is hilarious. He doesn't know that the CD has content of a Japanese porn movie. Such comic scenes have made the film entertaining throughout.
After the interval, the film loses the grip but it comes to the groove when the story of Varun Tej and Pooja Hegde is revealed. Looks like this portion is added for commercial reasons. The basic concept of the movie is really good. But the screenplay is inconsistent. Also, the milieu is an issue. We are told that the story happens somewhere on the border of Andhra – Telangana but the raw look and extremely underdeveloped village atmosphere give more of a period look when the main story is set in today's times. This is unconvincing.
The best part of the movie is Harish Shankar's way of narrating every scene with one-liners and some comedy. The second half is mostly catered to the mass audiences.
The film is a mixed bag. It works for the most part but it also goes off the mark at many places.
Coming to the performances, Varun Tej steals the thunder as a gangster Gaddhalakonda Ganesh. His physical transformation with a long beard and curly hair has given a new dimension to his acting style. This role required him to play totally 'massy’and he has done justice to it. The movie is his show. In the role of a filmmaker, Atharva Murali is perfect.
Pooja Hegde has played the role of Varun Tej's former lover Sridevi. Her track with Varun Tej seems to have added to bring a nostalgic feel. The Elluvocchi Godaramma song from Sobhan Babu and Sridevi starrer has been recreated well. Pooja Hegde has got her steps well but Varun looks odd as Sobhan Babu in this song. Newcomer Mrinalini Ravi as Atharvaa Murali's love interest is okay. Brahmaji as an acting coach provides a bit of comic relief but this is stretched beyond a point. The A square plus B Square act is clumsy.
Cinematography Ayanka Bose is good. Music by Mickey J Meyer is catchy and is also different from his style. His background score is excellent. Waka Waka song at many places has effectively used to elevate the mood. The item song Zara Zara stands out. Harish Shankar has once again shown his mark in dialogue writing.
Dialogues like "idivaraku sukamga batalanukuntollu..ippudu sukamga savalanukundru" and "chetullo geetale untayi raatalu undai' are superb.
Valmiki aka Gaddhalakonda Ganesh runs on Varun's act. It is his show all the way. The film offers some fun moments as well. On the downside, it has lengthy runtime and not-so-convincing climax portions. Overall, it is an entertaining watch.