Majili Review: The Journey isn’t Smooth all the way, But Gets you Home
In a scene from Shiva Nirvana’s Majili, the Ugadi release that’s in focus over the last few days, we see a young Poorna (Naga Chaitanya) ask his father (Rao Ramesh) what’s for breakfast. On being dissatisfied with the response that he receives, Poorna ends up asking his dad as to why he didn’t make pesarattu (green gram dosa) instead. A little later in the film we see an older Poorna who’s now married, so it’s his wife Sravani (Samantha Akkineni) who’s handling the cooking at home these days. Its breakfast time and as Poorna’s father reaches out for the pesarattu that Sravani is cooking, she surprises him by saying that the pesarattu is for Poorna and that she’ll get dosa instead for her father in law. Similarly there’s a reference to Poorna talking to his father in his younger days about his fondness for non- vegetarian food and later we actually see a totally smitten in love Sravani taking chicken curry for Poorna during lunchtime. These are maybe small and even inconsequential segments from the film, but these are examples of what Shiva Nirvana is capable of.
When you watch the film you realize that Majili is not having the benefit of a truly impressive plot, it even has its fair share of issues (more on all that later). But the link between the two distinct time zones as well as the connection between Poorna and Sravani is something that Shiva Nirvana manages to carry off very well. Majili talks of Poorna a teenager who lives with his father in Vizag and for whom his life revolves around cricket. An aspiring cricketer, Poorna ends up coming across Anshu (Divyansha Kaushik), the daughter of a Navy officer (Atul Kulkarni). While Poorna and Anshu fall in love predictably, her family doesn’t of course feel happy about it. Anshu’s parents forcibly take her away from Vizag, leaving Poorna heartbroken. He ends up forgoing his cricket career and becomes an alcoholic instead. Years pass and Poorna is made to marry his neighbour Sravani who has always been fond of him. But he is still lost in his thoughts of Anshu and refuses to leave the company of alcohol. How does Sravani go on to bring a change into Poorna and salvage her married life is what we get to see as the tale progresses further.
So what’s special about someone not succeeding in love and drowning his sorrow in the company of alcohol, you might ask. That’s exactly why I say that there’s nothing impressive about the basic plot of Majili. Also how much longer do we have to see a character that’s aimless in life and is forever stuck on to something from his past? But luckily Shiva Nirvana manages to ensure that the film benefits from some really subtle moments like the ones mentioned at the start of the review. Also the narrative style adopted by the director makes sure that the proceedings never get into a major emotional overdrive, despite the ominous possibility. The songs composed by Gopi Sundar are effective, though not memorable as such. Posani Krishna Murali does his usual bit; the lighter portions introduced thanks to him. Atul Kulkarni, Rao Ramesh, Subbaraju, Ravi Prakash are all effective while Divyansha Kaushik leaves an impact playing Poorna’s love interest, Anshu.
It’s not wrong at all to call this as Naga Chaitanya’s finest performance in his career so far, despite the done to death character arc given to him there is a lot of sincerity visible in his portrayal of Poorna. The angst in him looks genuine and credit to Naga Chaitanya for ensuring that we do have some sympathy for the character. Samantha seems to be in great form over the last year or so, there is an inherent maturity that’s creeped into her performances of late and the effect is very much visible in Majili as well. She plays the role of Sravani with a lot of grace and charm, making you warm up to her totally. It also helps that the real life pairing of Naga Chaitanya and Samantha indirectly contributes to their on screen chemistry as well, making them a delight to watch together in Majili. Overall Majili isn’t anything fantastic to rave about, but it’s among the better Telugu films in the recent past, a distinction that also applies to Shiva Nirvana’s previous outing, Ninnu Kori (2017).
Majili does not have anything novel in terms of its storyline but has some genuinely interesting moments and carries good performances from its leading actors, Naga Chaitanya and Samantha.