Nagarjuna and Naga Chaitanya unite for an entertaining socio-fantasy drama which has a distinct rural flavour in spite of retaining the essence of its prequel Soggade Chinni Nayana.
Last Updated: 02.11 PM, Jan 14, 2022
(Chinna) Bangarraju loses his mother Seetha early in his life and grows without the love of his father in a village in Andhra Pradesh. His grandmother Sathyabhama takes it upon herself to raise him well. Despite Bangarraju's supposedly-happy existence and his reputation of being a casanova, he is a lonely soul who yearns for the love of his family, more so his father. His late grandfather returns to earth to give a direction to his life and get him married to a village belle Nagalakshmi. However, an unexpected plot to kill Bangarraju brings a twist to the plot. Is there a happy ending in store?
Sequels are among the hardest films to pull off. You need to offer something new to audiences and yet not tinker with the spirit of the universe and the characters of the original. There's a new section of viewers that needs to resonate with the sequel as a standalone film as well. Amidst a whole lot of challenges, it's safe to say that Bangarraju is probably among the best sequels that Telugu cinema has produced in the recent past. The plot takes off exactly where Soggade Chinni Nayana ends and it has an identity of its own without missing out on all the ingredients that made the former a blockbuster.
The parallels between couples across different generations lend an interesting dimension to the film. If the elder Bangarraju is happy to reunite with his wife in the heavens and continues to be a harmless flirt, there's another friction-filled romance brewing between his grandson (also named Bangarraju) and a village belle Naga Lakshmi back home. If the father came back from hell to sort out his son's marital life in the prequel, Bangarraju is a tale about a grandfather returning from heaven to help out his grandson.
When the grandson is possessed by his grandfather's spirit, a lot of fun is in store for viewers. At several levels, Bangarraju may appear similar to its predecessor but a fantastic, entertaining screenplay doesn't give any chance for you to complain. Veteran Satyanand's expertise truly comes to the fore and helps the film stick to its basics without going haywire. Mind you, Bangarraju is a potpourri of many genres - a complicated mix of horror, folklore, family drama, romance, action and comedy - and it requires experience and clarity to tie up the various threads neatly.
It's also not fair to judge a film of this nature for its novelty. However, what it manages to achieve by giving a twist to familiar tropes deserves praise. The first hour is an excellent fun ride that lets the viewer soak in its energetic ambience and the latter half is nothing short of a mass treat and is designed to please the Akkineni fans. For a Sankranthi release, there's sufficient emphasis on the importance of agriculture, a bull fight and a plot that is essentially about familial togetherness.
Despite all the familiarity, it's surprising to notice Bangarraju's emotional pull in its climax sequence. That's what focused writing and apt casting can do - wonders! It's refreshing to see a resurgent Naga Chaitanya step into the shoes of his father in a typical rural fare and do all the heavylifting in Bangarraju. While Soggade Chinni Nayana capitalised on Nagarjuna's strengths and image as an on-screen casanova, his son proves equally adept in adapting to the energy and the setting.
The sequences where Naga Chaitanya and Nagarjuna come together are the perfect icing on the cake, providing the adrenaline rush of an enjoyable masala potboiler. It's a cakewalk for Nagarjuna to pull this off while it's Ramya Krishna who is yet again the film's emotional anchor. Krithi Shetty's golden run continues with Bangarraju too. She just has the right element of restraint and composure in her performance without making her character look silly. The entire sarpanch subplot featuring her, brings in a necessary comic relief to the proceedings.
The comedians and sidekicks like Vennela Kishore, Praveen and Brahmaji have lesser work to do this time but they manage to entertain while they last. Jhansi, Anitha Chowdary, Rao Ramesh, Sampath Raj and Rajashree Nair pass muster. The film remains chirpy and colourful throughout and the backdrop of the heaven is a visual feast. Cinematographer Yuvaraj's peppy, bright visuals reflect his refined understanding of rural backdrop while Anup Rubens comes up with a memorable, energetic album after quite a long time.
Bangarraju makes for a perfect family viewing for this Sankranthi. It has all the elements to please the masses and gets its priorities right - of being an entertainer throughout. There's not a single dull moment in the film and the reunion of Nagarjuna, Naga Chaitanya on the screen adds to the spectator's joy. Forget your pandemic blues and enjoy this one!