It is great to see Mahesh Babu shedding his macho image and wooing a woman in the film. Mahesh is a delight to watch in these scenes. His comic timing and dialogue delivery are on point.

Sarkaru Vaari Paata movie posterFacebook/Sarkaru Vaari Paata
Flix Review Thursday, May 12, 2022 - 17:15
Worth a watch

Mahesh Babu’s long-awaited film Sarkaru Vaari Paata, which was delayed due to the COVID-19 situation, has finally hit the screens. The film is written and directed by Parasuram. Mahesh (playing the role of Mahesh) is a financier with a reputation for collecting his dues at any cost, regardless of the situation. Keerthy Suresh (playing the role of Kalavathi) is a debtor; she is a party and gambling addict, who owes almost everyone in Miami money, and hopes to repay them with gambling wins. As her debt keeps mounting, Kalavathi approaches Mahesh for a hand-loan. But only after she researches Mahesh’s history in order to exploit his vulnerability. (Where she acquires these intimate details is a mystery. At least, it’s not shown on screen.)

Kalavathi as planned traps Mahesh by exploiting his innocence — and his fetish for traditional Indian women wearing a saree and flowers in their hair. These scenes, where Mahesh falls for Kalavathi and already sees a future with her as a wife, are extremely funny. It was refreshing to see Mahesh Babu shedding his macho image — it’s women who usually fall for him or lust after him, because he is The Mahesh Babu. And Mahesh is a delight to watch in these scenes. His comic timing and dialogue delivery are on point.

Keerthy Suresh also experimenting with a role where she is an arrogant brat, as opposed to the usual ‘innocent’ woman which she has been playing in many films, is quite a change. She gives a convincing performance as Kalavathi.

While initially, the story plays out like a romantic-comedy set in the USA, the romance part quickly evaporates and there is a conflict between Mahesh and Samuthirakani (playing the role of Rajendranath). Rajendranath is Kalavathi’s father, who is ideologically opposed to repaying debts. It is a strange characterisation; Rajendranath is a politician with immense wealth and strong political connections with ministers from the Union government, but has a simple life motto: Do not repay debts, even if it affects your political career. Ironically, when Rajendranath’s character is introduced, he utters a dialogue “I hate two kinds people: Those who are sincere and those who are stupid.” He then promptly kills the representatives who come to collect dues. 

The story writing is poor. Kalavathi who comes from an ultra-rich family is struggling to repay meagre debts, and pay her rent, which she shares with at least four others. If she is so wealthy, why does she put up an elaborate act to cheat Mahesh? And though she is uncomfortable, she puts up with Mahesh stalking her and pretends to be in a relationship with him — all for just $10,000. We also learn that she has exactly 22 blank cheques from her father — one each for her 22 birthdays. Why doesn’t she use them to pay her debts? Where is the logic?

Just when you are relieved that this Mahesh Babu film is not a preachy message film involving farmers’ plight, director Parasuram brings another twist with an overtly political message. (And it occurred to me: Can’t Mahesh Babu act in any film without offering unsolicited advice?) Here, he takes on the role of enlightening people about how banks mitigate their losses caused by big corporations.

From being an NRI who came to India just to collect the money he lent out, Mahesh morphs into a political leader who takes it upon himself to ‘educate people’. This plotline is similar to Vijay’s Sarkar — and the backstories of Mahesh and Vijay in both these films strengthen the deja vu. Strangely, Keerthy Suresh is the female lead in both films.

Though initially Mahesh gets fooled, he gets his redemption; and his actions to redeem himself are outrageous. He blackmails Kalavathi to sleep with him — next to him — every night, with dialogues insinuating that he wants to have sex with her. But since he is the hero, he does not act like a rapist and force himself on her. These scenes are very problematic, and you know how dangerous it is when men jeer and laugh out loud when these scenes play out in the theatre. 

Barring this, Sarkaru Vaari Paata makes for a fun watch, at least for those who are acquainted with ‘formulaic’ films, which the Telugu film industry churns out regularly.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the series/film. TNM Editorial is independent of any business relationship the organisation may have with producers or any other members of its cast or crew.

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