Telugu Reviews

Pellichoopulu Review: A Simple Romcom That Makes You Smile

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Earlier today, as I wrote an article on Meg Ryan’s directorial debut, I couldn’t help but reminisce over some of her most famous films: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail. The last one of these released 18 years ago, but I still made a mental note to myself to try and watch one of these films over the weekend. These films were the definition of feel-good romcoms – simple, predictable, yet attention-grabbing, making you hope that the film pans out just the way you know it would. Haven’t we all watched one of these films and thought to ourselves –  why hasn’t this genre been fully explored in cinema out here in India? Romcoms these days just equate to an unimaginative storyline combined with a trusted comedian as a sidekick delivering one-liners at will, and a staple bar song that reeks of misogyny.

But today, I witness something different in Pellichoopulu. Innocent smiles, relatable characters, situations we can or have seen ourselves in. The setting is so natural, right from the tea shop the friends talk in, to the lead pair just taking a few minutes to discuss something, sitting on their scooters parked on the side of a street. The characters talk the way people around us do. Fathers scold their children just like how mine does when I laze around. Friends are nothing like Brahmanandam or Santhanam – they make fun of their friends, rib them gently just like our friends would. It took me all of ten minutes to relate myself to the characters in the film – when Prashanth (Vijay Devarakonda) says that the worst things about his ex-girlfriend was that she doused her samosas in tomato ketchup. “So much that we can’t taste the samosa anymore. She could rather drink the ketchup straight from the bottle” he says and I go “I know! Right?”

*****

Prashanth, a lazy man who studied engineering because he was compelled to, has a knack for cooking. Although this impulse results in pretty good food, he would still prefer to make a quick buck by settling into the household of a business tycoon by marrying his daughter. Chitra (Ritu Varma), on the other hand, wants to prove her father wrong – a man who never missed a chance to tell her he would have preferred a son than a daughter. She wants to be a business entrepreneur and become a successful, and independent women. Both are thrown into a room to ‘meet each other’ as a precursor to marriage, by their parents. Though neither of them are interested in the marriage, they speak to each other about their lives, interests, past relationships, and food. Despite being as different as chalk and cheese, they decide to become partners in business; they bond over food and slowly fall in love.

*****

Though there is nothing fancy about the film, it is the very way that the story is narrated that keeps us hooked. Prashanth’s story is that of every youngster who is forced to study engineering. Like someone on Twitter once said: India is the country where everyone becomes an engineer, and then decides what he/she wants to be in life. Under constant pressure from his family to make it big – though they never understand where his true passion lies – Vijay Devarakonda nails his part, right from vacant expressions to displaying intense emotions, the young actor has picked up from where he left off in his debut film, Yevade Subramanyam. Vijay is definitely one of the better young talents in Tollywood this year. Talking about talents, Priyadarshi, who plays Prashanth’s friend, is a revelation. His funny one-liners and conversations with a distinctive Telengana accent, has the audience in splits, whenever he is on screen. The hope is that he does not turn into another run-of-the-mill comedian, who have no character to themselves other than praising the hero and insulting others.

*****

Ritu Varma as Chitra, shines with her expressive eyes, that show pride, anger, disappointment all within a single scene. The supporting actors including Anish Kuruvila and the actor who plays Prashanth’s father, give great performances, and hilarious scenes –  like the one where Prashanth’s grandmother sneaks a drink with her grandson, or the conversations between Prashanth’s father-in-law to be and Priyadharshi. The creatively written scenes, to the envisioning of the music, to the ambience of the film, everything suggests that director Tharun Bhascker is someone to pay attention to in the future. The fact that the film has been shot in sync sound, adds to the film’s advantage making it all the more believable and relatable.

*****

Pellichoopulu is a welcome film for Tollywood. It’s refreshing to see that amidst the Sardaar Gabbar Singhs and Sarrainodus, there is a Kshanam and Pellichoopulu. Such films reinstil the hope that filmmakers understand that keeping things simple, sweet and short once in a while can go a very long way.

*****

Every good romcom can make you laugh, smile, and cry. A few can make you smile even a long time after you watch it, and Pellichoopulu will make me smile each time I see samosas and ketchup together.

 

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