Nice little Telugu movie, nothing special, I just watched it for Maddy. If you might be interested in seeing it, definitely read the No Spoilers review and skip this one (the movie works a lot better if you don’t know what is happening next). But if you won’t have a chance to see it for whatever reason, you can read this instead.
Whole Plot in Two Paragraphs:
Naga Chaitanya, our hero, is born with a second personality. Explained to his parents as a twin he absorbed in the womb that now lives within his brain as a few random neurons and control over his left arm. Chai grows up, his mother dies, he loves his older sister Bhumika, and his little niece, and he works making ad films with his best friend since childhood Vennela Kishore who knows the secret of his arm. And then he randomly runs into Nidhhi Agarwal at a film shoot, her company is his client, and they both flashback to their college romance which began with misunderstandings caused by his left arm, and almost ended in a proposal until that was interrupted by a phone call from his sister and he never came back. In the present day, Nidhhi still loves him and vice versa but they don’t understand each other until a work trip to New York brings them back together. Chai arrives home, all happy, to discover that his house has been destroyed in a gas cylinder explosion, killing his brother-in-law and niece and leaving his sister Bhumika in a coma. Chai is heart broken, but then puts it together that his niece must still be alive because he talked to her on the phone at school after the explosion happened. He rushes to the police station only to be diverted on the way, his car damaged, and then to get a mysterious phone call from Maddy (yaaaaaay!) who explains he did all this and he has the niece and now Chai will die. But, he doesn’t, because his left arm was watching his back and kills the assassin before the assassin can kill him. INTERVAL
In the second half, Chai tries to convince the police but they show him how all the records prove his niece is dead. He goes into it further and finds out that the police and doctor were both threatened by Maddy to force them to falsify the records. He gets another call from Maddy sending him on a wild goose chase all over the city and fails to rescue his niece. He and his friends finally figure out what is happening when the get the clue of the number “21”, which was the number of people who died in a bus crash that Chai escaped right at the start of the movie. And the letter “A” which is what is written on the map following the route Maddy sent Chai on. Maddy is “Arun”, who Bhumika was supposed to marry but she loved someone else. Chai got a phone call from Bhumika while proposing to Nidhhi years earlier, rushed off to help her escape the wedding, and Maddy always blamed him for that. Maddy arranged for all the people he hated to be on one bus, but Chai survived and Bhumika and her husband skipped the trip last minute. Maddy tried again but Chai arrived home a day late and missed the explosion. Maddy was going to kill the niece, but then decided not to and instead keep her as the daughter he was supposed to have. Now he has kidnapped Bhumika from the hospital and plans to keep her and the niece with him. Chai tracks them down, beats everyone up, and finally his left hand kills Maddy for him. Proving that his left hand twin brother loves him after all.
So, the left hand thing is wonderful. In the exact way I look for from Telugu films. They took the kernal of an idea of a real thing (yes, it is common for second fetuses to be absorbed, and yes there can be odd remnants of them left in the surviving fetus), and then took it to it’s illogical conclusion. It’s not just that Chai has less control over the nerves of his left hand, it is that he has a twin brother, Aditya, who lives in his head and only communicates through the left hand. Their mother raised them equally, kissing both of them good night and reading stories and so on. And after she died, Bhumika was the same, tying Rakhi on both the left and the right hand and so on. And then you have this odd thing of the left hand both sabotaging Chai in a very “big brother” kind of way (embarrassing him in front of Niddhi, for instance), and protecting him, punching people out for him when he is knocked out and stuff. It’s a cool plot idea to play with, and also kind of a superpower, since no one knows he has this extra thing.
Also wonderful is Maddy’s motivation. And, like, the whole Maddy thing. Maddy is a genius who cannot take criticism, so he can go to extremes and create miracles in his quest for vengeance, like kidnapping a woman in labor from the hospital in order to threaten her husband and then returning her without anyone finding out, but as soon as anything goes wrong, he falls to pieces. A wonderfully different kind of villain, bitter and petty but also genius. Plus, it’s Maddy, so he adds on these great performance touches like the way he interacts with his servant, and his little gesture when he wants a drink and so on and so forth. And this is all on top of the motivation being that he was the arranged groom left at the altar by the run away bride, a figure in almost every movie who is never remembered (in this case, they didn’t even remember his name let alone his face). I could have had way more Maddy in this movie and been very happy.
But the problem is, we had to spend a bunch of time on other less imaginative stuff. Chai and Nidhhi’s college romance, for instance. He falls in love with her at first sight (of course), but she is shy and uncertain because he is an upperclassman and she thinks he is ragging her. But then another boy rags her and asks for a kiss and Chai rides to the rescue, beats them all up, and wins her heart. It’s cute and all that, but it’s not really original.
(Nice song, but it’s a remix)
What’s even less original is the present day back and forth. Nidhhi and Chai meet up and she is cold and a little angry, but not really. Just kind of mildly irritated while he is just kind of mildly wooing her. No big gesture from him, no slap from her. Just treading water while she makes him jump through a few somewhat boring hoops (making an ad for her, than traveling to America and making another ad as an assistant director). And then the final reveal that doesn’t really hold up to logic. He left in the middle of his proposal because he had to rush off and help his sister run away from her wedding. But, really? He couldn’t put that off 2 minutes to finish his own proposal? Plus, this is a last minute thing? Wouldn’t he have been going to the wedding anyway? And then she says she looked and looked for him, and he says by the time he looked for her 2 months later, her phone number had changed and she was off Facebook and he couldn’t find her. So, what, she looked and looked but also changed all her IDs so he couldn’t find her? It just doesn’t hold together!!!! You can’t have two people both looking for each other and not able to find each other, it’s just not LOGICAL!!!!! Plus, the big thing that makes her decide to forgive him is learning he named his company after her, “Artich”. He has to show her this using scrabble tiles, I don’t know why. Artich is a really stupid name and pretty obviously “Chitra” spelled backwards. This whole conversation also involves a bunch of American kids (like, 12 year olds) playing scrabble at night in the middle of winter at a riverside cafe. You know, like you do. And then Chai just walks over and grabs their tiles and rearranges them and they do nothing. So strange!
(Also, no real reason this all has to take place in America)
And there’s soooooooooooo much time spent on Venela Kishore as the humorously incompetent director and Vidyullekha Raman as Nidhhi’s humorous cousin. It’s not just that I tend to get bored by Telugu comedy scenes, it’s that these in particular go on waaaaaaay too long. I don’t find the short ones funny either, but at least those don’t slow down the movie, they are kind of sprinkled in for fun.
One thing that is sprinkled in which really is fun is all the Nagarjuna and general 80s-90s tributes! If I loved Naga less, I might find those irritating too. But I do love him, so all the tributes and clips in the background just make me sit up straight and smile.
The 80s-90s tributes I really shouldn’t find charming, and yet I do. The framework is that Nidhhi’s business is making expensive costume versions of all the popular consumer treats from the 80s and 90s for the successful adults who grew up during that era and still crave their childhood desires. This concept alone deserves an entire paper about the growth and importance of consumer desires in Indian culture, the new generation of successful middle-class people and how the wealth of today isn’t as satisfying as their modest childhoods and so on. But I’m not going to get into all of that. Instead, just the idea of throwing in all the references to Cinthol soap and Ambassador cars and getting the audience to go “awww, I remember that”, and the surprise of the fact that it actually does make me go “awww, I remember that!” Look at that, even without growing up in India, the films contain enough of the consumer culture that just by watching movies from an older era can make me feel connected to it.
A better version of this movie would have done a lot more with the nostalgia hook, would have made Maddy do something with all his smarts besides hiring the same old identically dressed henchman, would have made the romance make considerably more sense, and would have made the comic bits a lot snappier. But this version is still pretty good.