'Tholi Prema' review: A love story with its heart in the right place

Rashi Khanna and Varun Tej share a sparkling chemistry.
'Tholi Prema' review: A love story with its heart in the right place
'Tholi Prema' review: A love story with its heart in the right place
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The mark of a good love story is how it can make the audience hold its breath every time the boy and girl look at each other. Too many things have to be done well for that to happen and Tholi Prema, directed by Venky Atluri, pulls it off with elan.

The movie kept reminding me of Khushi, more than its namesake, because of how important the heroine is to the storyline – a pleasantly surprising deviation from Tollywood love stories. Aditya (Varun Tej) falls for Varsha (Rashi Khanna), the very first time he sees her. He is impulsive and doesn’t for a moment think of consequences.

After a brief romantic rendezvous, they drift away only to find each other again in the same engineering college. The sparks light up their alleyways and they are irresistibly drawn towards each other. However, an altercation with a guy who harasses Varsha leads to an argument and a clash of their individual ideologies. Aditya, who revels in the idea of being honest and impulsive, walks away from Varsha, who was always keener on protecting their love than giving in to outrageous impulses.

A few years later, they end up at the same construction firm, his anger for what she had said and done, still fresh in his memory. However, in the process of helping his friend’s (Priyadarshi) love reach its logical conclusion, Varsha and Adi end up coming closer to each other. As they meander from one argument after another, it is clear neither has ever moved on from the other.

There are many things that work in the movie’s favour. Varun Tej is probably gearing up to be the next big thing. He is gorgeous in every scene, can shake a leg efficiently and most importantly, can emote. Wonderfully, at times. Like Prabhas, he doesn’t look out of place in fight scenes either. The maturity, with which he picks the right scripts, shows in his acting too and, at this stage of his career will definitely take him places. He is on a fast track to becoming the poster-boy prince charming of good movies, aided by his styling and screen presence.

Rashi Khanna, whose career really kickstarted with an equally romantic Oohalu Gusa Gusalade, has come a long way. She has a beautiful role and she does justice by pulling off the girl who never gives up on her boy believing, ‘that the love wasn’t wrong, just the fight’. She is one of those rare women actors, who can conjure romance and mischief in one glance while looking adorable all the while. Rashi and Varun’s chemistry is sparkling and Venky Atluri should be credited for creating so many splashes of romance throughout the movie. From their first exchange, to their first kiss, they look sincere as two young ones feeling the butterflies of love for the first time and eager to embrace it.

Apart from endearing cameos by Suhasini and Naresh, the movie also benefits from the comic relief provided by ‘Bhimavaram Rajugaru’, who like Priyadarshi has a wonderful sense of timing. Shout out to George Williams’ cinematography as well. In the run-up to the release, Varun had promised that this movie will be aesthetically appealing and will have a refined touch a la colourful romcoms from Bollywood. And he wasn’t wrong. A shout out to the production standards that ensured there is not a single scene in the movie where you would feel like looking elsewhere. From the costumes – very chic – to the indoor design, from the styling of the actors to the choreography, the movie walks the tightrope of casual, urban cool without trying too hard.

Thaman’s OST in this musical helps audiences rediscover that romantic corner in their heart that would transpose them to their own stories. The dialogues are not long but impactful, whether it is about love, memories or ego. The conversations between Varun and Rashi were almost always resonant of two interesting, and crystal-clear outlooks. The love story also delights because there are no happy coincidences that are usually the hallmark of wannabe love-musicals.

All in all, Tholi Prema will easily be the new-age love story of the year, giving us a new prince and princess charming, who are only going to grow in stature with time.

Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.

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