Updated: June 12, 2022 9:27:55 am
In Ante Sundaraniki, the hero Kasthuri Poorna Venkata Sesha Sai Pawana Rama Sundara Prasad aka Sundar’s superpower is his ability to talk people into the trickiest of situations. People just give into Sundar’s audacious demands despite their better judgment. Because halfway through the one-hour customary meeting with Sundar, his targets realise the truth that he won’t stop talking until they give him what he wants. In other words, Sundar badgers his targets into submission with his unceasing monologue.
Sundar’s superpower is not something he inherited. It is something a person develops growing up in a household, which controls each breath he or she takes. A highly regimented approach to child parenting seems to be the easiest way to produce master liars.
Sundar comes from a highly conservative family. So much so that he’s not allowed to travel to the US because his family believes that allowing a man to cross the sea is a cardinal sin, something which would anger their gods. Their superficial beliefs make his growing-up years very painful. He’s constantly mocked for his funny, incomplete tonsured head at school. His father Sastri garu (played by a wonderful Naresh) gets him a girls’ bike because he’s worried the horizontal crossbar in the boys’ bike would endanger his son’s ability to become a father in the future. Sundar is also subjected to quite a few yagnas or rituals since his childhood to remove all the negative vibes in his life. In the process, the family’s astrologer becomes rich.
Like his family, Sundar also has his own set of quirks. After losing an opportunity, he never had in the first place, to play young Chiranjeevi in a movie, he stops watching films altogether. After his school crush Leela (played by Nazriya Fahadh), a professional photographer, falls in love with a man from her line of work, he stops posing for pictures altogether.
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Leela also comes from a very conservative family. But, her family prays to a different god than Sundar’s. Sundar is a Brahmin and Leela is a Christian. And both their parents are hardliners when it comes to the matter of mixing with people from other religious backgrounds. But, these religious and social distinctions don’t apply to the relationships that form within the premises of schools. An educational institution is a place where diversity thrives. It is a safe place for young minds to mingle, and forge friendships without pride and prejudice stemming from one’s class, caste, colour, creed or religion. And that’s where Sundar and Leela meet.
Sundar and Leela are total misfits. They don’t have friends in school and their families play a huge role in it. And, they find each other. They appreciate each other’s qualities that other kids find worthy of ridicule. But, it would take a while before their school friendship turned into more than that. The love for which they both are ready to move heaven and earth through their seemingly endless lies.
Ante Sundaraniki is snappy, fast-paced and a lot of fun. Writer-director Vivek Athreya infuses this comedy with the energy of a thriller. The hilarious movie reminded me of the irreverent comedy style that was invented and perfected by iconic comic and screenplay writer Crazy Mohan. The confusions, conflict, drama and humour stem from lies and those lies need more ridiculous lies and those lies ask for more outrageous lies to cover up one simple truth.
Nani effortlessly fits into the role of a rebellious man, who comes up with masterful lies as easy as he breathes. Nazriya Fahadh’s screen presence adds a lot to the appeal of the movie. And who knew that putting Nazriya and Nani in the same frame would create such crackling chemistry. Naresh, Rohini, Azhagam Perumal, Nadhiya, Anupama Parameswaran, Harsha Vardhan all shine within the portions allotted to them in the 3-hour run time.
Vivek has picked warm colour schemes that are easy on our eyes. And editor Ravi Teja Girijala has done a brilliant job in infusing the narration with edge-of-the-seat energy, something rare to find in the romantic-comedy genre.
The real selling point of Ante Sundaraniki is Vivek’s love and grasp of the Telugu language. The fluency of the narration is so refreshing. It is not loaded with heavy heroic punchlines. The vocabulary of the movie is so simple and at the same time has a significant literary value.
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