To begin with you do not have to exclaim: Oh My God and that is more than what you normally bargain, for in the present day context.
Cast : Venkatesh, Pawan Kalyan, Shriya and Mithun Chakraborthy
Direction : Kishore Kumar Pardasani
Genre : Drama
Rating : ***
Like : The stars
UnLike : Star Value
To begin with you do not have to exclaim: Oh My God and that is more than what you normally bargain, for in the present day context. Assuredly the script has been fine tuned to bite out the bitter and to ensure the end product is sugary enough for the viewer. Artistically this could be the undoing, but then who cares. Not filmmaker Kishore Kumar Pardasani. What contrasts the film from its inspiration is the scale. While the earlier worked with actors who were stars in their own right, this script is designed for stars who are actors. This turn around will have you in the midst of bouts of cat calls and whistles, at the cost of the approval of the serious critic.
The tale is known. Gopal Rao (Venkatesh) owns a curios shop and is a stated atheist. He lives life on his terms and is resigned to the overkill faith that wife Meenakshi (Shriya Saran) has for the customs of Hindu religion. All is fine till the Earth shakes only at his shop. Strangely this happens quickly after he takes on the Godman Swami Siddeshwar Siddi (Posani Krishna Murali). This is perceived as a cosmic curse and the near and dear slowly start deserting him. Pushed to the corner, he moves the Insurance Company that wriggles out of its liability (one realistic aspect of the film!). The defence is: force majeure- Act of God. He thus decides to sue God and his agents, the men who are marketing God. All marketing agents are known to exaggeration and many to raising false hopes. So is it here too. However, as the crisis grows and our atheist protagonist is left all along to handle the mess, it is God himself in human form (Pawan Kalyan) who steps in to deliver. A materialistic, contemporaneous discerning theory is culled out drawing a clear distinction between faith and blind belief. Superstition and stupidity, fear and blind faith are scorned in contradistinction to religion, the proper, reasonable awe of the Gods.
I must confess that I went to the film with the preconceived notion that it would be very difficult nay impossible to replicate Paresh Rawal and thus Venkatesh has a handicap to begin with. To credit the actor, he keeps away from everything Paresh did in ‘Oh My God! He subtly transforms the role to a wonderful statement of a middle aged man coming to terms with the complex calls of contemporary religion. For all the approving whistles Pawan Kalyan may get for being the star of the show, Venkatesh is the actor for the script. The latter surely realises that it is important for an actor to even physically evolve as an artist. Films like ‘Seethama Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu’ or ‘Drushyam’ clearly show how well Venkatesh has read the reality of age. No actor in Tollywood has so surely and pointedly changed gears. As the central character, he essays yet again a role with consummate ease and without going overboard and being over dramatic. The star has fused seamlessly with the actor and given the context, the achievement is even more praiseworthy. Pawan Kalyan is predictably eclectic. He has the entire auditorium eating of his hands and this can be his undoing in the near future. At Tollywood it is easy playing God but playing super God could lead to disaster. He must guard against it. His fans –legion in category, are in the mood to lap up every bit of his offering. He lacks the punch to be that Cosmic Being and that seriously constitutes the drawback of the film. Mithun Chakraborthy reappraises his earlier interpretation and does nothing to improve it. Posani has a good role and does not disappoint.
Finally ‘Gopala Gopala’ is good enough for the viewer who is served on a diet of meaningless violence and family romance. It may be a near photocopy of the Hindi film with added glitter of the stars. Whether the stars have enriched it or not, is from where you look at things. However, if nothing, it reiterates that Venkatesh is an intelligent star.
By: L Ravichander