Here I am, trying to make this movie into some kind of logical narrative. A well-nigh impossible endeavor!
Whole Plot in Two Paragraphs:
It’s 1976. Our hero, Prabhas, is the “Einstein of Palmistry”. He visits Indira and warns her about The Emergency and therefore is banished from India. He travels around Europe flirting with white women and enjoying life before ending up in Italy where his mother and best friend live. Also in Italy is Pooja Hegde, a young doctor working at the hospital run by her uncle. They meet magically on a train, but then keep missing each other until they finally meet again when Prabhas is hit by a bus and shows up at her hospital. He suggests they start a “flirtationship”, he has no love line on his palm so he will never love or marry, and she isn’t interested in romance either, so it’s perfect! They start dating and then her uncle confronts her and tells her she is falling in love, and she owes it to Prabhas to tell him the truth….she is dying.
Just as she is about to tell Prabhas she is dying, he reads her palm and tells her she will live to be 100. And then she faints and goes to the hospital and almost dies. But Prabhas swears, somehow, she will live 100 years because it is what her palm says and he is never wrong. Pooja decides to believe him, and also decides to tell him she is in love with him. But he tells her that he is leaving in a few days, never to come back. She goes home, crying, and finds his diary in the pocket of a coat he lent her. She learns in his diary that he DOES love her, and also that he knows from the lines on his palm that he is fated to die in a few days. She determines to prove him wrong. Even though a miracle cure has become available for her condition, she decides to die and therefore prove palms are wrong and Prabhas can live. She drives her car into a tree, almost dying. Prabhas is reached in London and takes a cargo ship to Italy. Which is caught in a Tsunami wave. Explosions, drowning, all kinds of things. But Prabhas survives, defeating his destiny, to return to Pooja.
It makes more sense written out like that. For instance, we don’t have a line connecting the dots between Indira’s palm reading and Prabhas being in exile in Europe until, like, halfway through the movie. We just have Prabhas in Europe for no clear reason for a lot of the time. There’s also a whole bit about a funny hypochondriac ship’s captain who ends up being the captain of the ship Prabhas takes back to Italy. And a whole thing proving that Prabhas’ prediction for Pooja will be true. It’s just a messy mess narrative! And a poorly written plot.
“Narrative” is everything that happens in a movie. So, like, the decision to not explain why Prabhas was in Europe until hours later. Or the decision to throw in the ship’s captain and give him loads of plot time and then forgetting him. “Plot” is the story of the film, the stripped down central boy-meets-girl kind of thing. And in this film, both are just not really great. I can handle a movie with a solid plot and a bad narrative, say Dilwale where there were all these cul-de-sacs and nowhere places to kill time but the central story was solid and clear. And I can handle a movie with a good narrative and a random plot, like Happy New Year where the central story was kind of confusing but each scene moment by moment was a kick. But this movie is both confusing and dull moment by moment, and also has no clear central story.
I just don’t get why it DOESN’T have a good central story! I can accept that Telugu films will have weird cameos and strange comedy sections and magical thinking like “Palmistry is specific and unquestioned”. But I’ve seen so many lower budget and less well-made films that have a grasp on, like, why the hero and heroine love each other and where the finale is coming from. Darling, say. That is a silly silly movie. The first half is a made up story that Prabhas is telling someone to explain why he can’t marry his daughter. The second half is the real story of Prabhas trying to woo his childhood sweetheart. And it’s FUN! It’s totally illogical and crazy, but the romance plot has a clear beginning (childhood promise) and end (she confesses she’s just been torturing him all this time and loves him too). This movie could have had that, but it just doesn’t. The twists come at the wrong time, it never seems to settle into an idea, and the romance just doesn’t click.
Let’s start with the whole “Prabhas is open about not having a love line, but secret about his death time”. And also, “palmistry is real except when it isn’t”. The ending-ending actually works for me, Prabhas fights against destiny to live despite his destined death. But then, if he had no love line, why earlier did he fall in love so easily? Without fighting destiny? You can’t mix “fight against destiny” with “sometimes it just happens”!!!! Not when the whole plot of your film is based on it.
And Pooja Hegde is dying, and then she isn’t. It starts out as a cool Geethanjali sort of idea, she is living this happy life and her family is accepting of her flirting and dating because they know she doesn’t have much time. But then once she learns Prabhas is dying, her whole thing kind of gets forgotten? Like, she had this mini-journey to accept that she will live, and then poof, that’s all gone! She’s right to romantical “I will kill myself to force Prabhas to live”.
There’s good stuff in here too. Lots of sweeping visuals. Lots of giggle inducing illogic, like the fact that the hospital seems to be in some sort of roman bath building complete with elaborate tiled floors? Fairly okay period look, lots of 1970s cars and a few 1970s clothes. It’s just so unsatisfying as a full project, doesn’t really come together the way it should. Just makes you sigh.