'Bharat Ane Nenu' review: Mahesh Babu shines in fan-pleasing political drama

TollywoodWhile it is not a pathbreaking, breath-taking political drama, 'Ban' is likable for the subtle acting and situational comedy.Krishna SripadaThe first time Bharat Ram (Mahesh Babu), travelling in his convoy, looks at Vasumati (Kiara Advani) at the bus-stop, he cranes his neck with a subtle enthusiasm which reminds the viewer that here is a Chief Minister, who is like anyone of his age. The second time, he asks his Ps to guess what she would be wearing; when he turns out to be right, Bharat chuckles and enjoys a hi-five. That subtlety is the theme of the movie – what would the well-educated, honest man, who believes in keeping promises and being accountable, do if he were the Cm? Only, you can see the veil of fans’ expectations weighing on the makers. Koratala Siva’s Bharat Ane Nenu, despite its heavy-sounding title is not a Leader-style political saga. To borrow Bharat’s favourite term in the movie, the plot is ‘a simple answer’ to the heavy-handed Indian political quagmire. The movie is not a Go-game of strategies and counter strategies, far from it. The movie is not about Mahesh delivering one punch dialogue after another, reminding everyone that he is the boss; he never does. The beauty of the movie is in its subtlety, a trait that has stayed with Mahesh throughout his career in gems like Athadu, Okkadu, Khaleja, etc. Mahesh’s acting has always been about being the eye of the storm – plenty happening around him, even as he is quiet - elegantly and stylishly quiet and subtle. While being let-down by his makeup crew in several scenes, Mahesh continues to be the same charming actor. In Bharat Ane Nenu, Bharat is thrust into the role of a Cm due to the sudden demise of his father (Sarathkumar) and upon the insistence of his father’s best friend Varadaraju (Prakash Raj), a kingmaker of sorts. Interestingly, and as Mahesh’s character in the movie acknowledges, the road for him is simple – not to take the path of excuses blaming our population, but to bring the accountability that he has grown up witnessing in London. With five educational degrees to his credit, Bharat insists, very likably for a Telugu movie hero, that he likes acknowledging when he doesn’t know something, and yet, is a fast learner. Rao Ramesh’s character, playing Vasumati’s father rightly remarks, ‘Rajakeeya nayukudu anukunna, nayukudu’ (We thought, he is a political leader; but, he is a leader). Bharat’s own party men (and the barely present party-women, who exchange low-iq barbs on each other – why else would we need women MLAs, huh?!) wait for an opportune moment and mistake from his side. Insert a meme laughing at those people who expect our hero to make mistakes! Bharat Ane Nenu almost demonstrates Mahesh’s inner conflict – make a good movie, please the fans. All the parts where he is on his own, trademark subtle comedy and sophisticated dialogue delivery, the movie impresses. Every point that has been inserted into the movie for the fans – the needless song with a heroine whose character is only a plot-device and a prop, the punch-a-dozen-people-who-won’t-use-automatic weapons-and-insist-on-knives-and-sickles routine, and the populist track sung by villagers adoring their Cm (now a Koratala Siva trademark) – take away from the movie. It is almost as if the actor cannot escape the cage in which his fans have incarcerated him, forcing things in the movie that are pointless and illogical. I think, our superstars should read about the Midas Touch – first you want a fan base and when you have it, you can barely breathe or do anything of your own anymore. Tch tch! Bharat Ane Nenu’s editing is simplistic and barring Mahesh’s, not much character building is initiated. An opportunity is lost while dealing with Varadaraju’s character – barely any detailing going into the nature of a man who has more shades than one. The movie, while being watchable, suffers from predictability – its biggest surprise being the absence of surprises. All the politicians are black. The hero is immaculately white. The people are sheep. The journalists are popcorn-sellers. The step-mom doesn’t care. Whenever this monotone is broken, the movie sparkles – like in Mahesh’s press conference scene, where he stands, consistent to his character like the man who always speaks common sense, simple sense. Mahesh’s performance in that scene as an educated man reasoning with unreasonable people while simmering with anger will stand out as one of the highlights of his career. While it is not a pathbreaking, breath-taking political drama, Bharat Ane Nenu is likable for the subtle acting and situational comedy which can make the exaggeration-addicted Telugu audience laugh if they are bought into the story. The movie falls short in emotional moments, more due to indifference of the makers than due to the lack of scope - moments we found dime-a-dozen in Koratala Siva’s Mirchi and Srimanthudu. Is an actor like Prakash Raj bored of all this, yet, is another question that troubled this writer. Kiara has screen-presence, despite barely being given half a dozen dialogues. The Ost doesn’t leave you with much that is memorable. In the end, Mahesh is left with too much to do. Unintentionally, or by design, only the makers will know! Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither Tnm nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.
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