Though the script doesn’t offer anything out of the box, Raj Tarun and Shivani Rajashekar pitch in with spontaneous performances
Last Updated: 07.44 AM, Nov 17, 2022
Seenu is a happy-go-lucky youngster from Rajahmundry and the son of a coach (nicknamed) No Ball Narayana. Much to his parents’ delight, he expresses his interest to marry a girl of their choice. Hours before tying the knot, the prospective bride elopes with her love interest. A distraught Seenu is desperate to avenge this humiliation. Is there anyone else on Seenu’s mind? Will he regret his decision?
Time and again, Telugu writers are constantly proving their inability to grasp the needs of the streaming space. The medium emerged as an alternative to cinema and television and yet continues to be a poor cousin of the two, more so in Telugu. It has become rather convenient to pass off extended feature film scripts as shows that don’t offer anything new from what’s already available in the mainstream medium.
This isn’t to demerit Aha Na Pellanta’s entertainment quotient but this attempt doesn’t qualify as a web original by a long stretch - from the treatment to the structuring of the episodes to the cinematic liberties. The show has a wacky premise driven by a comedy-of-errors screenplay and rides on slapstick humour and romance as its primary ingredients. Yet, in terms of emotional depth and character evolution, the film.. err..show is found wanting.
The plot commences on a hilarious note revolving around a play on Ramayana that the protagonist stars in his childhood and how key developments in his life trace back to that incident. The backstory of Seenu’s father No Ball Narayana, an aspirant cricketer-turned-coach, grabs your interest and one would’ve wanted it to last longer, more so because of Harshvardhan’s timing. The story, however, quickly drifts to Seenu’s wedding and how one dramatic incident changes his life beyond repair.
The scenarios in Sheik Dawood’s script are farcical and still funny. The odd-ball characters like Seenu, Maha and their friends are placed in awkward situations that entertain despite their predictability. The leads, Raj Tarun and Shivani Rajashekar adopt the ‘play comedy straight’ approach and it helps the viewer enjoy moments that aren’t exactly imaginative too.
However, across episodes, the creators try too hard to elicit humour from a situation beyond its scope and the narrative becomes silly and gradually runs out of steam. Several half-baked characters - like the curious neighbour (Getup Srinu), an aspirant actor posing like a cop (Thagubothu Ramesh) and a terrorist in the guise of a common man (Mohammad Ali Baig) - dilute the plot. Beyond a point, the narrative runs in circles, leading us to Seenu’s childhood, and the drama is unaffecting.
The finale sticks out like a sore thumb; a simple airport scene of two childhood sweethearts realising their love for one another is exaggerated beyond necessity and sandwiched amidst a terror plot. Dividing a plot of this nature across 8 episodes isn’t a great idea either, the hook element is non-existent. The compulsion to stretch an episode across 20-30 minutes affects the momentum of the screenplay.
Aha Na Pellanta, had it been conceived as a two-hour-long film, minus the flab and the multiple subplots, would’ve been a thoroughly engaging fare. The actors and Sanjeev Reddy still deserve credit because they make the show watchable despite these hiccups. Raj Tarun, in an understated performance, is impressive and a confident Shivani Rajashekar displays a flair for comedy. Ravi Siva Teja and Trishool Jeethuri get a few moments to shine as well.
Among other supporting actors, it’s only Harshavardhan who gives some identity to his part beyond being the stereotypical father. Vadlamani Srinivas, Aamani, Raghu Karumanchi, Dipali Sharma, Kritika Singh, Posani Krishna Murali and Bhadram are cast in staple roles that lack meat beyond the obvious. Rajkumar Kasireddy’s cameo works to an extent. Judah Sandhy’s lively numbers fit well in the scheme of things though none of them lingers on your mind after the show.
Nagesh Bannell and Ashkar Ali, the cinematographers, put their best foot forward in providing a vibrant exterior to this comedy across a wide variety of scenic locations. Kalyan Raghav’s dialogues are indulgent on a few occasions but land well for a major part of the show. A few key decisions could’ve helped Aha Na Pellanta rise above the ‘one-time watch’ category.
Aha Na Pellanta is a feature film at heart, packaged like a web show. Though the premise is basic, writer Sheik Dawood’s script has a few interesting plot points and director Sanjeev Reddy does his best to extract decent performances from his cast. Raj Tarun, Shivani Rajashekar and Harshavardhan stand out. With lesser subplots and a focused narrative, the show would’ve made an impact.