What a good movie! What a happy silly fun goodhearted movie. Once again, Nani has stolen my heart. You should all go see this IMMEDIATELY.
Nani is “the natural star” and that’s what makes me love him so much. While Telugu cinema is filled with actors who are something more supernatural than natural, actors who always say the perfect thing and win every fight and are never cowards or fools, Nani is as human as anyone else. Human, but still a hero. Nani is never mean spirited or cruel in his films, he loves people too much for that. But he also loves people too much to ever think he is better than any of the rest of them.
All of this is what I am saying about his character in this movie, but it could also be said about Nani as a star. He doesn’t use his star power to make movies that elevate him, he uses it to make movies that make fun of the whole idea of stardom, of some perfect man who can do perfect things. Nani isn’t the “hero” of this movie (except for in the requisite fight scene), the hero of the film is Lakshmi. Elderly tough funny Lakshmi, she’s the important character who sets everything in motion.
This whole movie is about women, that’s what the title is nodding towards. At least, I think so. Thanks to a nice reader here, I know that “Gang Leader” is the title of a famous Chiranjeevi movie. I just looked it up, and it appears to be your usual “troubled young man” story. Our hero’s life is filled with men, his gang of friends, his enemies, his brothers, and so on. That’s what “gang leader” evokes, a troubled lost youth roaming with other troubled lost youth. But this movie turns it around, brings forward the people who were pushed to the back in the earlier film, the women that those troubled youth leave behind, the women they hurt without even realizing or remembering that they are hurting them. That is Nani’s “gang”, the ones who most heroes would be too cool to associate with.
And his “gang” is a great cast. Mostly Lakshmi of course, I love her as an actress and I love that directors know how good she is as an actress. I’ve yet to see a film where she is stuck playing the “normal” kind of mother or grandmother role. She’s always the second lead next to the hero, wearing her white wig and making faces and striding around. Saranya Ponvannan was right behind her. The rest of the gang is fine, not a stand out. But that’s normal for casting this kind of film, the hero is a big name, the second and third lead are big names, the rest are good enough. Only in this case, the second and third lead are middle-aged and past middle-aged women, it is the villain and the heroine roles that get stuck with the inexperienced type of actors.
Really, this is just a delightful movie! Lovely funny hero, kind strong interesting women around him, a nice message about the importance of family relationships (not the lip service kind of message most films give but a sincere true one), and all of it done with the light touch that says “you know and I know that this is just a movie, so let’s relax and have some fun with it.”