The first reactions I heard of 'Dookudu' the Mahesh Babu starrer were not very encouraging. Then as the publicity of the movie claimed that it had become one of the largest grossers and public perception also changed. Now people started telling me that it was funny, and that the 'comedy' was good. But not a single over the top 'Wonderful movie' or a 'Must watch it'.
I like Telugu comedians and really love their work - most of the time. Telugu film comedy is a self-deprecating, very Teluguised way of making fun of Telugus. So when I was pushed by my friend to see 'Dookudu' last Sunday, we went and watched the movie. Or rather half of it. My enthusiastic friend lost all his enthusiasm in the first ten minutes itself and I had a tough time holding him back till the interval. I have seen worse, but it amazes you to see what can become the biggest grosser in Telugu movies.
The movie starts with a slum area in Hyderabad where the first usual suspect (the film is full of usual suspects) Prakash Raj emerges as a leader - Shankar anna. These jhopad pattis and annas were good in watch when RGV made Shiva - now they are nauseating. Come on guys, find something new. RGV broke ground from the exotic dens of villains and brought them to these slums almost thirty years ago. Can't you come up with something new?
Anyway good Prakash Raj gets hit by a lorry which is a shocker because Prakash Raj is not someone you bump off with a lorry so early in the film. The audience starts suspecting that something is fishy. My enthu friend told me that Prakash Raj will return. Anyway, Shankar anna's son Ajay (Mahesh Babu) becomes an IPS officer who is always surrounded by four IPS officers who look more like overgrown collegemates. Why they move together, get suspended together, go on foreign jaunts together is a mystery but they do. One of them also seems slightly weird to be a cop, especialy an IPS officer.
Now their boss is a funny man Nazeer who gets shot in the bum to provide us laughs, who has a daughter who is a brilliant fashion designer, a wife who wants to be hep and a younger daughter who has glasses. Anyway they all push off to Turkey separately, Nazeer's family and the suspended IPS cops, or some such place to catch someone...I forget who...there are so many people and too little story. yeah, now I remember, the killers of the Police Commissioner Suman (another usual suspect, but one whom we can kill off).
The main villain is Sonu Sood whose main concern in life is that he is unchallenged by any cop. He likes listening to old Telugu songs and killing his own people when they say something out of line. His brother is his weakness. The brother has many weaknesses. While trapping the brother the cops find Samantha, the dress designer. In some of the corniest and most cliched scenes, the heroine manages to fall over the IPS officer so perfectly that their lips lock - give me a break guys. For your information, the chemistry between the two is cold as a dead fish.
Anyway heroine has a sidekick Sonia who is an oversexed fashion designer or fashion assistant who is dumb enough to mistake Mahesh Babu to be Turkish! One look at him and you know he is Krishna's son! Frankly there was more chemistry in that one scene with Sonia than in the rest of the movie with Samantha. Anyway the IPS gold medallist, the trigger happy killer of 47 people as he claims, rescues Samantha's fashion designs which she leaves in the platform (how does he do it?, why did she forget it if that was all she came to Turkey for?). Samantha forgives and a song ensues.
Ajay finds out the brother of Sonu Sood, kills him and runs off to India. There he finds that Samantha is Nazeer's daughter, gets everyone on the right side. Here is when Prakash Raj, who would have been better off dead, chooses to arise from his coma. (I told you, said my friend and tried to get away from the movie, but i held him back). Only Prakash Raj's brain is fragile and must have no shocks. So they try to recreate everything for him the way he remembers, including taking his old house back on rent from the current owner, Brahmanandam, who rents out the building for movie shoots and has plans of becoming an actor.
Brahmanandam gets slapped around about twenty times by the interval, the general demeanour to the girl is that she deserves no respect, forget her, even her mother deserves no respect - and that is the level where the humour stays. As we get closer to the interval Sonu Sood arrives in India, finds out that his brother is alive, releases him and escapes. We see an old ally of Shankar anna (Prakash Raj) helping them escape. Mystery!!! Interval!!
I must have missed about a million other characters who are in the movie. But this is only the interval. I have a fair idea of what is going to happen next. No prizes if you get it right. Brahmanandam will get slapped another twenty times, two or three songs, twenty deaths, Prakash Raj comes to terms with reality, alls well and that ends well.
Why this movie become a super hit is anybody's guess. It must be to do with the audience as much as with the film makers. Either there are no good movies that this becomes the only alternative, or the audience senses have been so dulled that such thoughtless gratification appeals to them. To me 'Magadheera' had scale, vision and grandeur, a story, a proper resolution, and I can understand why it became a hit. There was no further hope for the movie when I walked out at the interval point - that is that. I do wonder when Telugu movies will come out of this rut, of these hero-turns-superhero based movies that are thoughtlessly steeped in gratifying the senses and nothing else. For me 'Dookudu' alongwith 'Kick' and other hits of that ilk are not good enough, how much ever they claim to earn. I'd like to see some thought going in to making the stories believable, something new, something that raises the bar (not bring it down), something that uses such good talent and star power better, something that does not insult my intelligence. Too much to ask for I guess.