Cast: NBK, Sneha, Tabu, Archana, Suhasini, K. Viswanath, Siva Parvathi, Sana, Sameer, Brahmanandam, Suneel, Dharmavarapu, Ananth, M. Balaiah, Apoorva, Y. Vijaya and Others. Action: Vijay. Art: V. Bhaskara Raju. Cinematography: V. Jayaram. Dialogues: JK Bharavi. Editing: Sreekar Prasad. Lyrics: Suddala Ashokteja, Vedavyas, Veturi, K. Shiva Datta, JK Bharavi & Chandrabose. Music: MM Keeravani. Direction: K. Raghavendra Rao. Producer: K. Krishnamohan Rao. Banner: RK Film Associates. Release Date: 30th May, 2008.
Pandurangadu is probably the best script K. Raghavendra Rao could get at this point of time. The story of a man who's gone wayward and then repents, thus becoming Lord Krishna's true devotee-this is a devotional but the director didn't have to struggle to get in the commercial element. Pandurangadu's wayward behavior includes alcohol, lies and women.
In typical KRR style, the first half is filled with fruits and flowers, the dialogues full of sexuality and sensuality and the images intended to titillate. The protagonist repenting and becoming the Lord's devotee dominates the second half, and Balakrishna delivering a believable performance, not to mention his double role as Lord Krishna (highly reminiscent of his legendary father's) are factors sure to pull in the crowds.
Plot Pandurangadu comes from a respectable family who are devotees of Krishna. He is mischievous from his childhood, and it doesn't leave him in his adulthood. His vices include women and alcohol, and unlike his family, he is not a devotee. An ardent devotee of Krishna is a girl called Laxmi, to whom the Lord comes in a dream and tells her to marry Panduranga. He runs away at the talk of marriage, being in a relationship with a courtesan Amrutha. Krishna does his Leela, and Panduranga ends up married to Laxmi but continues his illicit affair with the courtesan. Amrutha and her aides loot him, while he throws his family out and does every bad deed in the book. But repentance dawns and Panduranga finds his God.
Story, Screenplay and Direction Except for Pandurangadu's family and one or two others (like Mohanbabu playing a sage), each character in the movie is handed either a)dialogues full of sexuality b)vulgar gestures or c)both. So what's new? Nothing, except the clever interweaving of a devotional, which KRR is pretty good at making it highly watchable along with all the other elements the whistle-hooters look for, of which KRR is the King.
Who's complaining? Unless you are planning to take your grandmother to the movie, which will leave you throughout the first half squirming in your seat with embarrassment, every double entendre is targeted in reliving those good old days when every season there would be a KRR movie to watch with every Masala element and the corresponding seasonal fruits in full attendance. Oranges make their presence felt in Pandurangadu.
The first half, the first song, Tabu and even Sneha in one song along with all the comic characters like Ali, Suneel (used sparingly in a scene or two) are complete Paisa Vasool for the 10 rupee crowds; and in reality to the rest of them too, most of whom enjoy it, albeit discreetly. "The script/character required it". Right. Then why wasn't the old Pandurangadu shot like that? To their credit, the new one has honesty in intention-tell a story, but get the masses to come back through hook or crook.
The narration is good, and K. Raghavendra Rao is a storyteller, which is where the movie scores. Had it been just the "commercial elements" and no real story to sustain it, it would have been worthless. But thankfully it isn't so. But there is some 80s style imagery, old/routine clichés in the familial scenes and there is a break in the narration in the second half. Well, it's an old story, and what more, it's actually a period movie. Otherwise, the story part of it is okay, even with the melodrama in the second half.
The makeup for Balakrishna as Panduranga and Tabu is terrible. Balakrishna as Lord Krishna reminds you of NTR, although the makeup even there is not perfect. The special effects where Krishna takes his devotee to Brindavanam is very amateurish.
Performances Balakrishna does the best he did in the past 5 years, and this is not merely about a hit or flop. He has clearly delivered what the director required him to, and that is where he scores. As in Bhairava Dweepam where he was so convincing in the Janapadam style movie, in this devotional, Balakrishna seems to be on home ground.
Of course, even the mischief in the first half, wait, especially the mischievous aspect of the first half, comes naturally to the actor. The only flaw was with the makeup. Sneha is the perfect good, innocent devotee and loyal wife. Tabu, a firebrand performer, disappoints badly in spite of her mentor's presence. Vishwanath and Siva Parvati and the rest of Panduranga's family members justify their roles.
Music and Dance The music is the highlight of the movie. Three of the songs have the ladies (Tabu, Sneha and others) shown in trademark Raghavendra Rao style, embrace it or leave it. The devotional numbers are lovely, catchy and have a familiar air courtesy Keeravani, and the picturization is kept colorful or in the case of the last two songs, intense.
Last Word It's a true blue KRR movie, and Keeravani's music is an asset. With the script being so, we get to see both the worlds of the director, and one might argue and say it could have been more sober and much neater, but then it wouldn't be a Raghavendra Rao movie. If that sounds good to you, then despite the obvious flaws (editing, efx, makeup..) it will entertain you to the core. As mentioned above, it's not for your granny's eyes.