Bheeshma Review: A Suck Hole of Awful

The torture! The pain!!! The never ending AGONY!!!! Those of you who suffered with Srinivasa Kalyanam with me understand what I have gone through. It’s that movie all over again, and this time we are being lectured about organic farming.

UGH! That’s what I say to young effortlessly smart Telugu heroes. You know, the kind who stand up and say a simple obvious answer to the complex problem posed by the foolish not-them people, and then a voice in the crowd says “Wah!” and the hero waves his hand to silence them because he doesn’t want applause, he just wants folks to understand his simple internet-folksy wisdom.

Nithiin And Rashmika Mandanna's Bheeshma Movie HD Posters - Social ...

The hero of this movie (Nithiin again, because I have not lead a virtuous life and God is punishing me by tricking me into seeing Nithiin movies), is literally a Meme creator. And it’s not treated as a joke! Everyone’s like “oh wow, Memes truly are wise, and not vapid over-simplification mind candies”. And then he stands up and spouts out more vapid over-simplification mind candies, while surrounded by a bunch of straw men who are easily defeated by his wet noodle level wit.

And now you are wondering “Margaret, why did you keep watching?” Because The Internet told me too!!!!! And because I think I need new glasses. I could barely read the subtitles on the TV, let alone recognize Nithiin the Movie Poison. And The Internet told me it got decent “fun time pass” level reviews. So I thought “okay, this movie is like death now, but it will get fun later, because The Internet said so”. And then I was 45 minutes from the end before I realized that no, it will never get better, this is what it is. And also, NITHIIN!!!!!

Pretty sure the main reason this got made was so he could go on vacation to pretty places with a pretty girl

Oh man, this movie is so STUPID!!!! Like, one of Nithiin’s mind candies is “it doesn’t matter how many chemicals you use, what matters is the soil”. Said in the context of arguing for organic farming in India versus in other countries where they might need chemicals. The message to the audience of course is “India is innately better because of our tradition and heritage and the old entrenched Hindu men shouldn’t change anything about their lives, and we are better than those other weak places that need outside assistance”. That’s a dumb message, but the surface message is also dumb! Yes, chemicals DO change the soil! Like, that’s why farmers buy chemicals? What do you think they are doing with them, using them as salt or something? Chemicals aren’t just pesticides, they are fertilizer too. Also, India’s soil isn’t universally great! This is a very large country, with varied terrain, you can’t say across the board “all our soil is awesome and farmers are weak if they take chemical help”.

Another thing this movie doesn’t address, which is kind of a big question, what do they mean by “chemicals”? I guess this is why the “soil” metaphor is so good, because I have the same question about Indian society and Tradition. If the soil is so good it doesn’t need “chemicals”, does that mean you aren’t going to plant potatoes any more? Because they aren’t native to India. What about dwarf wheat that was created in a lab and set off the green revolution? What about tractors that use gas? At what point do we draw the line against progress? And along those same lines, if Old Way is Best Way, are we going to go back to child brides? Give full control to Panchayats? I guess yes, based on the other Telugu movies I have seen with similar heroes and similar messages (Bharat Ane Nenu, my hate for you will never die).

Also, it’s a total stalker romance, way more than the simple “song where he follows her around and steals her scarf” kind of romance that is the norm in action movies. But our hero is “traditional”, so it’s all okay. And our hero is handed fabulous success without effort, just because of his own Perfection, that’s a healthy message to give the young unemployed resentful male college drop outs of India! Along with “stalk a girl until she gives in to your awesomeness, don’t worry she really likes you”. Most of all, it’s BORING!!!!! If you aren’t watching it identifying with the hero and pretending you are getting folks to go “wah wah wah” with your dumb statements, and molesting a pretty woman until she stops fighting back, there is nothing THERE. Like literally, almost no plot.

DON’T WATCH! This isn’t a fun hate-watch, it’s just depressing. It doesn’t even have good songs or fight scenes to keep you going. Never ending suck hole of awful.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

Nithiin is an unemployed college drop out who makes internet memes (he’s won awards! Let us all bow down to the award concept of value!). He’s also obsessed with getting a girlfriend, Any Girlfriend. That is soooooooooooo creepy, right? Either way it’s creepy. A woman shouldn’t be desperate for a husband/boyfriend without regard to who the person actually is, and neither should a man. In this case, the song inventively titled “Single and Ready to Mingle” makes it very clear that Nithiin just wants sex. He doesn’t want to get married, he wants a “girlfriend”. Any attractive woman will do.

Not that the woman should mind. This movie makes it clear how it thinks of women when Nithiin is introduced having scrapped up an invitation to a party through a Facebook friend. The party is being thrown for an engagement, the friend’s boss just got engaged to a woman who came to their office for an interview, he proposed at first sight, she accepted. Ha-ha, he proposed because she was pretty and that’s all a man wants in a wife. Ha-ha, she accepted because he was rich. And then Nithiin introduces himself as IAS, she agrees to leave the party with him (thinking he has a good IAS job), ha-ha he explains that IAS meant “I Am Single”, ha-ha, she stops a passing policeman and claims he kidnapped her.

So, women’s only value is in appearance (why both Nithiin and the boss proposed), women only care about money, it is okay to lie to a woman about money in order to get her to be your “girlfriend”, and if a woman is disappointed she will spitefully file a false police report. What a funny opening sequence!!!!!!

Obviously I should have stopped watching at that point, but I did not. Although I did stop reading every line of dialogue because I figured the rest of the plot would be so painfully predictable I didn’t have to. And I was right!

Nithiin is arrested and the cop makes him work off his crime as his driver. He also takes him to meet his boss, Sampath Raj, for advice on living a better life. Because men should all close ranks and help each other when a foolish woman files a false police case against them.

Nithiin starts driving the cop around, and sees a pretty girl Rashmika Mandanna and offers her and her friends a ride. When they get to where they are going, Random Louts start yelling teases at them and Nithiin beats up all the Random Louts but humbly/nobly doesn’t even let the girls know he did it. This is between Men, no need for the women to know about the danger they were in, or that he solved it already.

Blah blah, stalking. Turns out Pretty Girl is the daughter of Sampath Raj, who approves of Nithiin and tries to force him on his daughter, ha-ha, women thinking they can make up their own minds about sex partners. Daughter finally softens when she takes Nithiin to a work event where he gives a dumb dumb DUMB speech about how organic farming is awesome. But then they hug, and Sampath Raj gets a photo of it, and is FURIOUS. Because while he has picked Nithiin as his daughter’s sex partner, it’s supposed to happen on his timeline after a ceremony, not just because they want to.

Rashmika and Nithiin break up, but then Nithiin turns out to be the grandson of her boss at the organic farming company and is suddenly made CEO. He gives a DUMB speech and presentation that wins over the department heads, because they all act like little robots who follow the rules of the script in order to make him perfect. Rashmika starts to fall for him a little too. And now, finally, PLOT! Beyond Nithiin just being perfect and getting everything he wants. A rival company is trying to steal their contracts with their farmers and convince the farmers to use “chemicals” (what chemicals? We don’t know. Just “chemicals”). Nithiin goes back and forth with the other company, finally drives out to the villages and gives a big speech that wins over the pitiful farmers, and the company is defeated once and for all when the local politician declares their product harmful and pulls their license. Why does he do that? Because Nithiin caught him in a hotel with the same golddigger woman from the beginning having sex. Woman! Good for sex, for molesting, and for use as blackmail!

This whole film feels like the fantasy of a 13 year old boy. Partly the “everything I do always works out and my enemies are constantly humiliated and dumb, plus I am desperate for sex but not really clear on how to treat women as people” aspect, but also just what the movie thinks of as “clever humor”. For instance, at one point Nithiin and Rashmika are riding together in the backseat of a car. And whenever they go into a dark tunnel, Nithiin makes kissing noises with his mouth. Rashmika is listening on her headphones and can’t hear him, it’s so the driver will think they are making out. Ha-ha, isn’t that funny, making your friend think you are kissing a girl when you actually aren’t.

He can’t even dance that good! Why is Nithiin a thing??? Why does he exist in this world to torture me??? And no fair saying “because his Dad is a rich producer”, there are lots of sons of rich producers who aren’t horrible movie stars! Why Nithiin? Why does he get away with it?

It’s also of course a fantasy of the urban upper classes, as is revealed by the “organic” discussion. Why is organic food important? So the urbanites who are eating it will be healthier. Our food corporation folks are rich and powerful with fancy clothes and big office buildings, and then they go out to the country and the farmers look just as poor and downtrodden as farmers always do. So, the farmers stay poor, and the rich get healthier, and this is “good”? No one is going to talk about organic farming in terms of long term sustainability? Or how it can keep family farms going versus corporate farms? Or most of all, maybe your farmers would be more willing to stay organic if you PAID THEM MORE??? We have all of these speeches presented as wisdom about how organic food makes people healthier, but no discussion of the effects on the food producers.

So great, I just watched a movie designed for a rich urban 13 year old Indian boy. No wonder I hated it. And the fact that it did good box office confirms my suspicion that the main remaining audience in India, and the film reviewers, are all rich urban 13 year old Indian boys.

26 thoughts on “Bheeshma Review: A Suck Hole of Awful

  1. Not again….! Margaret it feels like you always watch low hanging fruits of Telugu cinema liked by lowest common denominator and bash them(rightly so) and the cycle repeats… 😦 :(. If i don’t know you well, i would think its bit of masochistic! You haven’t watched “Mathu Vadalara” and “Brochevarevarura” yet!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Netflix said it was the most popular movie!!!! It was supposed to be good! But no.

      On Fri, May 15, 2020 at 6:52 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • No, meaning of “Liked by Internet” differs from language to language… meaning of it in Telugu is “people who like movies with misogyny and sexism sprinkled with comedy and machoism” ala Telugu style. This is the exact reason IMDB created separate lists for all Indian languages since people we voting weird movies to the top 10 competing with likes of “Godfather”

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        • And yet really good stuff like Goodacheri is also liked by The Internet! But I guess a very small select internet group, and I just can’t tell the difference.

          On Fri, May 15, 2020 at 7:00 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Was the title of “Bheeshma” ever explained? From your plot summary, all I can think is that it is because this hero was single (desperately trying not to be) for a while, which of course completely distorts the original Bheeshma’s situation, who took a voluntary vow of celibacy/chastity. The word “bheeshma” actually means a very difficult and severe vow. So I dunno. Neither desperately searching for a girlfriend or stubbornly propagandizing for organic farming fits the bill.

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    • Nope, I think it was just the hero’s name/name of his family company and no more than that. There might have been some subtle reference I missed since I wasn’t reading subtitles, but definitely nothing from the headlines of the Bheeshma story.

      On Fri, May 15, 2020 at 6:59 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  3. lol oh god. Can we maybe just BAN movies in which Men Singlehandedly Solve Complex Social Problems? Or at least make a great parody version that kills that off forever? I’m so sorry you were suckered into watching one.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oof I’m so sorry you watched that. Netflix does seem to be picking the lowest of the low regional Indian movies for its platform, which basically means that 99% of Telugu movies on there are trash that no one would ever consider watching. Truly, I cannot think of a single Telugu movie on Netflix, maybe barring Oh Baby, that I was good. Hotstar has the ultimate collection of movies, with Amazon prime coming in second. As another commenter suggested, Brochevarevarura is on Prime and is a really great watch! It’s really unfortunate that really good Telugu cinema rarely makes it to Netflix.

    As for the organic food nonsense, I think it might just be a desperate attempt on all of these movies (Srinivasa Kalyanam, Shatamanam Bhavati etc) to bank on the very real issues in Andhra surrounding farming and the use of harmful/unregulated fertilizers. Unlike other issues that are faced by villages like casteism, sexism, underfunding by governments, etc, farming is a safe and timeless topic for them to exploit.

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    • I didn’t even like Oh Baby!!!!

      Are there no solid big budget Telugu action films? I’m not talking genius level stuff, just like MCA or Mirchi. Feels like everything I’ve seen recently is just weak, the plots don’t hold together fully, it has some big issue shoved in, just boring.

      On Sat, May 16, 2020 at 2:33 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      • I wish I had a better answer for you, but Telugu movies recently have been pretty terrible. Even those like Trivikram who once made good movies are losing their touch. I’ve heard that Mallesham (it’s on Netflix) is pretty good, but that’s more of an artsy film not a big budget action one. Small budget Telugu films are the only ones delivering good content – I recommend Evaru (it’s on Prime, but it’s slightly similar to Badla). I’ve just been binging on some older Telugu movies since the new ones are so incredibly disappointing. Some recommendations from that – Anything by Trivikram from before 2015, Kushi (possibly the only Pawan Kalyan movie I don’t hate), most Siddharth movies, Pokiri & lots more from the early 2000s!

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        • Shoot! Based on this list, I’ve already seen most of the good Telugu films.

          On Sat, May 16, 2020 at 5:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. Internet was tempting me also with this film, but as soon as saw it has Niithin I decided it’s not worth my time. Good to know I was right, but bad you had to suffer.
    When was the last time when we saw a good big telugu movie? I think it was Baahubali. All the rest is 13 years old boys fantasy about money and women. This film, Dear Comrade, World Famous Loser, Allu Arjun unpronounceable film etc
    Next time please watch Chi La Sow. The guy is not the best, but the heroine and the story are adorable and strong.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! I don’t even necessarily need a nice family romance, I just want an action film without a big issue speech and with a plot that more or less holds together. It feels like what we’ve been getting lately is the first draft of a script filmed without edits.

      On the other hand, from what folks have been telling me, the lower budget no-star films are getting really good. Maybe that’s the issue? The good scripts are going there, and the trash is rising to the top? But I don’t want to watch a low budget no-stars film! I want to watch a big dumb action movie that actually has a plot which makes sense!

      On Sat, May 16, 2020 at 5:25 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

      • OK, if you don’t mind a slightly older film (2004), and also starring Nithin (don’t let that put you off), I highly recommend Sri Anjaneyam. I guess you could call it a “socio-fantasy” film in that both gods and evil spirits have a major role in the plot. But it is a really delightful film with a solid plot and an interesting premise. There are some fights, but not enough to call it an “action film.” I don’t know if it was Nithin’s first film, but if it wasn’t, it was quite early in his career, and his acting is competent enough. It was Charmee’s first film (if you don’t know her, she’s a very good actress), but the real kudos on the acting front went to Kannada actor Arjun who played a major supporting role. Think of it as Yamadonga with a more serious plot and use of the divine elements, but also with plenty of humor, and you’ll get a pretty good idea. It’s directed by Krishna Vamsi, who is a very respected director in Telugu (and incidentally is married to Ramya Krishnan). I’ve been meaning to suggest this film to you for a while, so hope you can find it somewhere with subtitles. (The version on Youtube doesn’t have subtitles, though the dvd does.)

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry you had to watch it!! What a horrible horrible movie. Netflix has the worst collection of Telugu movies. Prime is better and Zee5 has few good movies.

    Netflix recommendations on regional content is horrible. That’s why I prefer Viki over Netflix for KDramas.

    Recent Telugu movies that are good
    Aravinda Sametha (NTR Jr)
    Brochevarevaru raa – Its available on Prime.
    Geeta Govindam(Vijay D) – It has some cringe worthy scenes but I overall enjoyed it.
    Evaru (Adivi Sesh), inspired by Spanish film The Invisible Guest is also decent. Available on prime
    118 (Kalyan Ram – NTR Jr’s half brother)
    F2 – I know you hate Venky but he has the best comedy timing

    Slightly older but very good
    Mental Madilo
    Oohalu Gusagusalade
    E Ee – This is a very low budget silly film with some fantasy. I loved it.

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    • Thank you! I like Telugu movies I can enjoy while sewing or doing other things. So, the usual “hero” and gang and fight scenes kind of plot, I don’t have to read subtitles that closely because the plot is so predictable, but the songs and fight scenes are great and the hero is super charming.

      This movie was predictable, but the hero was definitely NOT charming, the songs were lousy, and so were the fight scenes.

      On Sat, May 16, 2020 at 9:53 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I have just taken this off my Netflix list! Thank you for taking one for the team!

    Also, this is the second Indian movie I’ve run into in which one of the protagonists is a meme creator. No, wait, it’s the third, but in one of them it’s made clear that it’s a hobby. In the other one I saw, it’s a job, the woman works at an office, making memes. Is that really a thing? How would it possibly pay?

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    • In this one, it’s also a hobby, but something he is proud of?

      I’ve decided it’s part of the whole internet culture running into the rote learning culture. Memes are perfect for people who are trained with rote learning, simple and require no original thought, you just see them and repeat them.

      On Sun, May 17, 2020 at 2:23 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

  8. If you want a big action movie I would recommend Rangasthalam starring Ram Charan. It was a well made movie by director Sukumar who directed Arya2 and 1 Nenokkadine.

    Like

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