Shoojit Sircar's 2012 romantic comedy "Vicky Donor" was refreshingly original and elicited laughs without ever becoming crass despite the nature of its subject: sperm donation. "Naruda Donoruda", the Telugu remake, is enjoyable but falls short by several notches. And this perhaps happened because director Mallik Ram has tried too hard to imitate the Bollywood film instead of making an intelligent adaptation of it.
Sumanth plays Vicky, a young man of no particular ambitions, who becomes a sperm donor to make easy money at the behest of Dr Anjannayelu (an entertaining Tanikella Bharani). The good doctor runs an infertility clinic and is in desperate need of quality sperm to satisfy the demands of his ever-increasing clientele. The premise is a minefield - Vicky's "talent" could have easily translated into annoying machismo but instead, he is slut-shamed, probably a first for a Tollywood hero.
It's good to see Sumanth on screen again. The "Godavari" actor is convincing in romance sequences as well as the more emotionally dramatic ones. The scene when he tries to convince his girlfriend's Bengali family about their marriage is especially hilarious, thanks to the chemistry he works up with Bharani.
However, the rest of the cast is a bit of a let-down. Pallavi Subhash as Ashima Roy, Vicky's love interest, delivers an uneven performance. She's good in the lighter, flirtatious scenes but when the narrative turns serious, she doesn't leave much impact. The older actors like Srilakshmi who play the role of the elders surrounding the couple appear like caricatures because their parts lack authenticity.
In "Vicky Donor", the clash of cultures was between the Punjabis and the Bengalis. "Naruda Donoruda" attempts to superimpose Punjabi characteristics (if one may call it that) upon Telugu ones and the result is rather unconvincing. For instance, the middle-class Telugu people in the film (men and women) booze quite happily in public at a wedding. This is not to say that South Indians don't drink ever but it isn't as much a culturally accepted practice as it is in a Punjabi wedding.
The editing is patchy in places and some of the scenes appear rushed. The insensitive portrayal of the queer community in what's supposed to be comedy at the beginning could have been avoided. With all its faults, however, Sumanth must still be commended for choosing a project like this to make a comeback of sorts. There are many progressive ideas from "Vicky Donor" that have made it to "Naruda Donoruda" and it's a brave choice to make, given that the average Telugu film remains highly misogynistic and patriarchal.