Tholi Prema movie cast: Varun Tej, Raashi Khanna
Tholi Prema movie director: Venky Atluri
Tholi Prema movie rating: 2.5 stars
Debutant director Venky Atluri’s Tholi Prema is heavily indebted to all the romantic films that have been made in India thus far. Not one scene in the film or how the love story plays out between the leading characters look unfamiliar. The director, who is also written the film, has built the first meeting between Adithya (Varun Tej) and Varsha (Raashi Khanna) around the railway station. Adithya is running in the middle of London streets. He is desperately looking for something or someone before he takes us down the memory lane recounting his Tholi Prema (first love).
Back in India, Adithya is at a railway station to catch his train to his hometown Hyderabad. And the train begins to leave the platform slowly. Adithya still hanging at the footboard of the train waiting for a parting gift from his friends. At that moment, I imagined Varsha running to board the same train and Adithya lending his helping hand to pull her into the compartment. But, the director adds a small twist here. For a change, the heroine seems to have come on time and boarded the train already. She pulls Adithya inside the running train, saving him from an accident. It’s love at first sight for Adithya. But, he doesn’t know yet that she has a very different personality than him and going forward it will be the deal breaker. He is like a burning sun (that’s why the director has named him Adithya) and she is like a rain- cool and breezy (hence, she is Varsha).
The director-writer uses the threat to Varsha’s safety or honour to create situations for Aditya to show off action chops to impress his lady love. In a deserted railway station, in the middle of nowhere, Varsha misses her train as a group of thugs with wrong intentions trouble her. Before the bad guy could lay his hands on Varsha, Adithya glides in like her knight in shining armor. After ensuing action sequence, Adithya and Varsha break into a rain dance. The deserted railway station that posed a threat to the heroine’s safety just a few minutes ago suddenly turns into La La Land, bustling with activities and people in the middle of the night.
Venky unapologetically explores all the tropes of the romantic genre to take the narration of ‘can’t live without you, can’t live with you’ forward. The second half is completely set in the exotic locations of London, where the hero is still hurting inside and sort of takes his pain out on other girls by rejecting them. And the heroine returns to hero’s life, thus stirring old memories.
Tholi Prema has nothing new to offer. It even borrows its title from Pawan Kalyan’s film that came out in 1998. Many times, the filmmakers win half the battle when they get the casting right. Venky has shown a great wisdom in paring Varun and Raashi opposite each other. He has also got the mood, setting, tone, and texture of a feel-good romantic comedy right. Even as he has fully relied on overused plot devices of the romantic comedy genre, Venky makes the film work and keeps us entertained.