Sarileru Neekevvaru - Been there, done that!
Any action hero's job more often than not is to 'save the day' and this is pretty much a given. Mahesh Babu has been diligently following this for sometime now. Either he is doing something for the society as in Srimanthudu, Bharat Ana Nenu and Maharshi or he needs to save or protect someone as in Okkadu, Arjun or his latest release Sarileru Neekevvaru. Another common thread in most of these movies is that he begins elsewhere and then takes on a mission on an alien land. Anil Ravipudi uses the exact template and makes a mix that is entertaining in parts and remains watchable for the most.
Ajay (Mahesh) serving in the Indian army has to go to Kurnool to help his colleague's family but once he sets foot there, he has to take on a powerful minister. Much like the plot, the narrative too is as cliche as it gets. But what keeps the film going is the rather light hearted presentation that ensures that we don't ask too many questions as the general tone of the film is never serious.
The film gets into its groove some thirty minutes into the first half with a lengthy train sequence. The comedy here is loud and over the top but the actors make it work. The too cute that they are almost stupid heroines have sort of become annoying but here it doesn't come across as odd because the silliness is a part of every character and Rashmika too delivers the right note. But what is it with the RAPE joke? A mother falsely accusing the hero of raping her daughter so that she can get him to marry her isn't something you should be doing in the name of comedy. It is wrong at every level.
The issue with the film is that while the light hearted narrative keeps the proceedings watchable, it also ensures that there is never any high moment in the entire film. The pre interval action block is a hero glorification moment but for this to strike a chord, you need to have an emotional connect. Say in Okkadu, before the action explodes you know what the Bhoomika character has gone through and you want a saviour to intervene. So when the punches land, there is a sense of rejoice. But here the Vijayashanti character disappears after the initial few minutes and when she is in danger, you aren't really anxious and this results in the stunts being merely a visual stimuli.
The film never really has you invested with what is happening to the characters and what we have on screen is a collection of scenes, stunts and songs in a particular order with no real organic flow. Rashmika disappears and then when the makers feel they need a song she is brought back. The attempt to showcase patriotism is laughable at best. The biggest issue with the film is that none of the characters including the hero and the villain seem to have any strong motive. Prakash Raj is venomous in one scene and plain silly in another.
A watchable template flick with a couple of entertaining stretches but it never really gets you majorly interested at any point.