After suffering back-to-back setbacks with "1: Nenokkadine" and "Aagadu", Mahesh Babu seems to have chosen the safest genre - a family drama, which will stop any further damage to his career.
His latest outing, "Srimanthudu", which has been written and directed by "Mirchi" fame Koratala Siva, is a routine, predictable, family entertainer. High on action and emotion, what makes the movie a great fare is the concept - giving back to the society, which has not been quite explored in Telugu film industry.
Harshavardhan aka Harsha (Mahesh Babu) is the son of millionaire Ravikanth (Jagapathi Babu). He is a down-to-earth person who speaks less and acts more. His father wants him to take over his business. However, Harsha is not sure about his calling, until he meets Charusheela (Shruti Haasan), who wants to use technology for the benefit of her village.
Taking a cue from Charu, Harsha studies a post graduate course in Rural Development. While pursuing his studies, he falls in love with Charu. After learning his identity, she tries to distance herself from him. At this juncture, he proposes to her, but she rejects him stating the difference between her and his father and how his father is leading a luxurious life without caring about the problems of the people in his village.
Harsha leaves for his village, Devarakota, where he stays at the residence of Charu's father (Rajendra Prasad). He adopts the village. While bringing development to the place, he crosses the path of local rowdy Sasi (Sampath) and union minister Venkata Ratnam (Mukeshi Rishi), who are responsible for the sad state of the village. What happens next will form the climax of the movie.
Nothing much happens in the first half of "Srimanthudu". A plot twist few minutes before the interval sets the momentum. The second half has an interesting plot, but the film ends abruptly. There are several predictable scenes and the pace of the narration is very slow. Especially, the second half, which is dead slow and makes you feel like as if you are watching a sentimental TV serial.
Koratala Siva has given more focus on the heroism of Mahesh Babu. As a result, other characters have nothing much to do. The Prince has a tailor-made role and he has delivered a top-notch performance. He looks so cute, young and handsome that you just can't stop loving him. He emotes well and impresses you with his action and punch dialogues.
Shruti Haasan has done her part well and her chemistry with Mahesh is good. Jagapati Babu, Rajendra Prasad, Sukanya, Sivaji Raja, Aamani, Angana Roy, Sanam Shetty, Tejaswi Madivada, Sampath Raj, Mukesh Rishi, Rahul Ravindran and Poorna have done justice to the available screen space. The director seems to have wasted talented comedians like Ali and Vennela Kishore, who could have added much-needed entertainment quotient to the film.
"Srimanthudu" has rich production values. Devi Sri Prasad's background score, which elevates the sentimental quotient throughout the film, is the main highlight in the technical front. His soundtracks are also good, but couple of them appear to be unnecessary, forced and also halts the pace of the movie.
R Madhi's cinematography is another big highlight of the film. But some of his close-up shots, especially in the second-half, make you feel that you are watching a serial.
The stylishly choreographed fights are a treat for action lovers. But they look over-the-top and unbelievable. The way Mahesh Babu beats up body builders who are double his size gives an impression that he is playing with dolls.
The choreography is good and Mahesh and Shruti's moves will make you shake a leg. The art direction is commendable. Especially, the sets in the song 'Dhimmathirigae' are amazing. The costume designs and the exotic locales are also good. The dialogues written by Siva are another big asset of the film.
Overall, "Srimanthudu" is a wonderful family drama laced with high sentiment and action quotient. Despite having some predictable scenes and dragging narration, Koratala Siva manages to hold your attention for 2.45 hours. The movie will impress both class and mass audience. It is a must watch for the fans of Mahesh Babu.