Director Maruthi’s brand of cinema can be best described as familiar entertainers.
His films are usually born out of ideas that have been tried-and-tested and his approach is no different when it comes to his latest outing, Naga Chaitanya and Anu Emmanuel starrer Sailaja Reddy Alludu, which borrows its basic premise from Nagarjuna’s Allari Alludu, and gives it a slight twist to make it accessible for the masses.
What you get out of this experiment may not be path-breaking, but is plain decent and entertaining in parts.
Shailaja Reddy Alludu Story: Chaitanya and Anu are neighbours who fall for each other. However their path towards marriage is far from easy. A haughty would-be mother-in-law complicates the proceedings. The couple put up a united front to clear their roadblocks.
Director Maruthi times the revival of the once-famous atta-alludu trope that brought the roof down in the 90s for a festival. How successful is he? To put things straight, he doesn’t disappoint. While a hat-tip to the 90s cinema is okay, the director is often stuck in the other era.
Ramya Krishna as Shailaja Reddy could’ve got a better character arc, had she channelised her repertoire beyond a Sivagami-like act. Even in the overdone climax, Ramya Krishna deserved her moment of glory, while the director prefers Chaitanya to do the goon-bashing as a protective son-in-law.
The film’s heart is still in the right place in its lighter moments. This is a year where formula-driven cinema in Telugu has faced outright rejection.
Shailaja Reddy Alludu doesn’t indulge in this aspect much, but portraying Shailaja Reddy’s husband Venu (Naresh) as a victim of his wife’s domineering qualities could have been avoidable. Prudhvi and Vennela Kishore share infectious on-screen camaraderie.
He comes a cropper often, yet director Maruthi amid all the predictability in the narrative makes this journey mostly hilarious. Vennela Kishore as Chari is in inimitable form in another role as a hero’s friend. Murali Sharma is ever-dependable, he’s an equal match to Ramya Krishna in terms of priortising self respect over common sense.
A sub-plot in the film too talks of the importance of wedding rituals, the difference between this and Srinivasa Kalyanam being that the former makes it much more relatable to this generation.
Promising films end well, that’s where things don’t fall in place for Sailaja Reddy Alludu.
Naga Chaitanya shows restraint in the need of the hour although he could do more with his on-screen ease. Shailaja Reddy Alludu is another film where egoist character(s)-creates-mayhem in the house after Geetha Govindam. Anu doesn’t mind fighting for her career despite opposition from her mother.
Gopi Sundar’s music deserved better situational value. Anu Emmanuel plays the quintessential damsel-in-distress part to the hilt.
The girl puts her foot down in the need of the hour, even with Chaitanya. The story is more Chaitanya’s, a 20s something boy sandwiched among a bunch of egoists as the plot traces his attempts to be an ice-breaker between unlike poles.
It’s also time that Telugu cinema stops antagonising women who have an identity of their own.
For those who enter theatres believing this to be a guy-taming his-would be mother in law story, you are in for a surprise.
The filmmaker may have moved on from employing his lead characters with a disorder; although in Shailaja Reddy Alludu, it’s man-made ego and haughtiness that create a mess.
There’s some progress shown in the writing of its female characters, despite the patriarchal backdrop.
Watch out for the sequence where he hides himself with a bedsheet from Ramya Krishna.
Though it may be the lead actors Naga Chaitanya, Anu Emmanuel and Ramya Krishna who do the crowd-pulling act, it’s thanks to the supporting actor-lineup featuring Vennela Kishore, Prudhvi and Murali Sharma for laying a neat foundation for the film’s entertainment quotient.