Anish R Krishna’s rom-com starring Naga Shaurya, Shirley Setia is an insensitive take on a sensitive issue
Last Updated: 08.12 AM, Sep 23, 2022
Krishna is a happy-go-lucky youngster raised by a controlling mother Amruthavalli. He heaves a sigh of relief when he earns a software job and moves to a different city. Cupid strikes him at his office as he falls for his boss Vrinda, an independent North-Indian woman. Despite initial friction and apprehension, sparks fly between the two. However, Vrinda is unsure whether the relationship would last if she spills the beans about her health. Will this ‘secret’ be a cause for tension in their marriage life later?
Call it plagiarism, a similar line of thought or creative inspiration, there have been umpteen instances in Telugu cinema when two directors have had the same premise, plot-twists and yet treated their films differently. Krishna Vrinda Vihari is a close cousin to Vivek Athreya's Ante Sundaraniki in terms of its plot. Both films try to broach the same issue - conservatism across households with a plot surrounding the female lead’s medical condition and cultural clashes - in contrasting styles.
Where Ante Sundaraniki cared for sensitivity, aesthetics and class, Krishna Vrinda.. panders to the galleries and manipulates the audience. The films share another similarity too - the usage of humour to take the story forward (no prizes for guessing that KVV takes the slapstick route). Even when you look at Krishna Vrinda Vihari as a standalone film, it doesn’t rise above a dumbed-down, flimsy product filled with double-entendre, devoid of any sincerity in understanding the delicacy of its material.
The Brahminical backdrop in Krishna’s story is a potpourri of many influences from other films, it’s precisely an Anniyan-meets-Adhurs universe. By the director’s own admission, there’s another reference too - Amruthavalli is the Sivagami (of Baahubali’s Mahishmathi) equivalent to Gopavaram. While establishing Amruthavalli as the matriarch, the men around her are reduced to nincompoops who don’t dare to go beyond her word. The embarrassment continues when the story shifts to Hyderabad.
Wait, did we say Vrinda is an independent, liberated, young city-bred woman? The director’s idea to establish that is to *insert a pub scene where the girl is drunk, where she talks about virginity, the guy experiences a cultural shock and later they fall for one another*. After marriage, she fails to make coffee at home, moves too ‘closely’ with her male colleagues, the mother-in-law is upset and the guy is caught in the crossfire.
Sorry, the television soap doesn’t end there. Oh, did we forget to discuss the Karwa Chauth scene? In a bid to keep the ‘masses’ hooked to the screens, there are Jabardasth-level (for the uninitiated, it’s a cringefest in the name of a comedy show) inane gags and jokes around women, reproductive health. Many chunks blame the ‘liberated’ woman for not putting up with patriarchy but as a last-minute resort, tries to be woke about it before the climax.
Krishna Vrinda Vihari is a textbook example of how to not write female characters or even comedy. Radikaa Sarathkumar can’t afford to do injustice to her body of work by saying yes to an embarrassment like this. If not for the reasonable credibility of names like Vennela Kishore, Brahmaji or Rahul Ramakrishna, the film would’ve left us with an even bitter aftertaste. By the end of the film, you realise the director didn’t quite care for his premise. Neither does he manage to entertain.
Film after film, Naga Shaurya is only undermining his abilities. All he needs now is judiciousness in script selection and the patience to wait for the right opportunity. Shirley Setia has a charming screen presence and is a good choice for the role though the problematic writing doesn’t give us a chance to appreciate her talents. Jaya Prakash, Saranya and Annapurnamma are underused for futile purposes. Among the songs, Emundhi Ra and Varsham Lo are easy on the ears and shot well.
The only good thing that Krishna Vrinda Vihari does is to make its viewers appreciate and be kinder to Ante Sundaraniki (you know where to watch it again). Director Anish R Krishna fails to capitalise on the (unoriginal) script with a talented team and worse, underestimates his audience to fall for his cheap, sexist comedy.
Krishna Vrinda Vihari is merely Ante Sundaraniki in the hands of a less-capable filmmaker. Naga Shaurya, Shirley Setia and Radikaa Sarathkumar put their best foot forward to rescue it beyond its flaws. Their efforts, however, don’t prove fruitful.