Sarileru Neekevvaru movie cast: Mahesh Babu, Rashmika Mandanna, Vijayashanti, Prakash Raj
Sarileru Neekevvaru movie director: Anil Ravipudi
Sarileru Neekevvaru movie ratings: 2.5 stars
Our mainstream movies are a solid way to gauge the mood of the day. And if you look at the kind of movies that have been making big bucks at the box office, especially in Bollywood, it is clear as day that nationalistic fervour is on the rise. Telugu actor Mahesh Babu is the latest to hop on the bandwagon of big movie stars who want to look cool while riding the wave of patriotism.
Mahesh Babu has played the role of Major Ajay in his latest movie Sarileru Neekevvaru. Ajay may be a trained soldier, but he’s a quintessential fan of Telugu cinema at heart. He behaves like a typical Telugu hero, who is very particular about his looks and his judgements are driven by hyper-masculinity. Also, he is all over the place. On odd days, he seems to head a bomb disposal squad, and on even days, he leads a squad of foot soldiers into a rescue operation. Well, accuracy seems to be the first casualty of the act of glamorization.
Sarileru Neekevvaru is not entirely a military movie. But, the Army backdrop has allowed director Anil Ravipudi to shoot a few scenes in the backdrop of picturesque Kashmir and dress up his protagonist in army fatigue. Mahesh looks fashionable in uniform, and that’s all the director wants. Because he knows very well that the star’s hardcore fans will work themselves into a frenzy when they see a uniformed Mahesh walking in slow motion.
The actual story is set in Kurnool in Rayalaseema region, which has been an inspiration for numerous violent Telugu films for decades now. Ajay’s squad member Ajay (Satyadev Kancharana) is gravely injured in the rescue operation, thanks to his recklessness. Ajay volunteers to be the bearer of the bad news for the kin of his colleague, who is fighting for his life. Ajay arrives in Kurnool which is ruled by politician-rowdy Nagendra (it is Prakash Raj, of course). He invites himself into the business of Nagendra, and thus the fireworks begin in the backdrop of Kondareddy Buruju.
Anil Ravipudi’s movie is rife with problems. Especially, the way he has written the character of Rashmika Mandanna. She plays the role of a desperate girl, who is seemingly ready to elope with anyone who looks slightly better than the clown selected by her father. And when she bumps into Ajay, she begins to pester him. She goes to the extent of accusing Ajay of rape to persuade him to marry her. This sort of treatment of the “leading lady” in this day and age is very uninspiring, regressive and cringeworthy. To put it like Ajay, Anil garu update aavali kaada.
At the same time, Anil also knows how to have fun while making a movie, and that has translated on the big screen. It was a relief to see Mahesh Babu loosen up and move more muscles while performing this time. He seamlessly switches between comic banter and serious punchlines. And that’s a big plus for the movie. He makes an impact in parts in the second half with his lengthy monologues.
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Sarileru Neekevvaru is all about man, masculinity and manhood. Anil Ravipudi unapologetically establishes that being aggressive is the key quality of a “complete man.” However, he has been reasonable when it comes to the handling of patriotism. It really strikes a chord, when Ajay asks civilians to behave responsibly in society to honour the sacrifices that our soldiers make to protect them at the border.