Nandu (Jr NTR) is a student and stands for his friends in case of any trouble. As every other hero who played student roles till now, he’s seen as careless and not bothering about his academics. On a rainy day he sees Akarsha (Samantha) and falls head over heels for her. He hatches many plans with his friends to woo her. Most of the attempts turn futile and lead to comedy of errors. Finally, he strikes gold and then the story takes a U-turn. More revelations of the plot may slip into spoilers. So, we will draw a line here. What is Nandu’s intention and what conditions lead to his transformation, and what’s the justification of the title – Ramayya Vastavayya, forms the rest of the story.
NTR owns the film. He carries the entire film on his shoulders. Of late, we haven’t seen so many variations in his character. His acting falls on the two extremes of the spectrum. He effortlessly pulls off one-liners and gags, and takes the cake. The way he shifts gears from a class act to funny zone to emotion to fights all in few minutes is quite interesting. Though he makes some references to the clan and Sr. NTR, his dialogue rendition is commendable. He spreads his aura in the entire film, and his dance moves coupled with foot-tapping music are wonderful. Fans will be delighted to see his introduction as Duryodhana and the intro fight with mace.
Samantha does what she is good at. She looks beautiful and plays a glam doll. Her angelic smile brings many heart-warming moments in the film. And she occupies the major chunk of song space along side NTR.
Shruti Hassan is a major plot driver of the film. She takes the story forward with a character loaded with grit and gumption. She has to settle with just one song, but what makes her presence felt is her character and its good Samaritan tinge.
Mukesh Rishi has flash-in-the-pan moments as an evil man. At times he’s menacing and at times his character falls flat.
After Gabbar Singh, Harish Shankar became the most sought after director and noted in the industry as one who gives an uncanny treatment to heroes. He proves his mettle in this film and gives NTR an altogether, hitherto unseen, avatar. He didn’t try anything new with the story and till the interval the audience don’t understand the intention of the characters. With an out-of-the world interval bang the movies set path and pace for the later half. The first half is a breezy entertainer and the second sets a serious tone for the film. Harish Shankar manages the tonal shifts quite adeptly.
Most of the film is like a collage made from borrowed set-pieces of many films. But the screenplay and the way it unfolds on screen makes it a sure winner.
S S Thaman crosses any milestone with this film. It’s great to see his music revolving around lot of melody. The background score is an archetypal Thaman – most of it is heavy percussion and the string section is taken from many Hollywood films. Pandaga Chesuko and Jabilli Cheppamma are the best from the pack.
Harish Shankar gives the template a vintage feeling with Ilaiyaraaja songs – Kalaya Nijama, Keeravani and others. There are also some symbolisms with the scenes attached to these songs.
The production values in the first half are below par, as the scenes are mostly shot in a cafeteria set or a house. The camera work is striking and the songs are very colourful.
The movie is tad long and some portions of melodrama in the second half could have been chopped to make it crisper. The last song is unwarranted and that gives a déjà vu of the one from Sainikudu.
After you finish watching the movie, you feel as if S S Rajamouli has directed it. The story, the characters, their intentions give you a feeling of that. What makes it a Harish Shankar film is the heroism he brings out of NTR and the myriad shades he adds to his character.
Ramayya Vastavayya is a masala potboiler with an age old story and loads of commercial elements. The hero NTR saves the day with his mighty presence and Harish Shankar harnesses the entire potential of this actor. Go for it.