Everything from the dialogues to the characters and the performances feels unoriginal and derived from the universe of Jandhyala, EVV Satyanarayana’s films
Last Updated: 05.30 PM, May 05, 2023
Sivaji and Kishore are two city-bred youngsters who’re desperate to get married. While they meet the love of their lives - Srilakshmi and Vijaya Lakshmi - and plan to take their relationship forward, their parents have other ideas. Under strange circumstances, the fathers of Sivaji and Kishore fix their sons’ alliance with the same girl Mahalakshmi. Will the duo clear the air and marry the women of their choice?
Right during the title credits of Match Fixing, a voiceover (by Sunil) confirms that the film directed by E Satti Babu, will be a homage to filmmakers Jandhyala and EVV Satyanarayana. While this raises your hopes about the film, it also assures that the director isn’t trying to create anything original. Inspiration is an oft-abused term in film parlance - here, it’s an excuse for the director to dump all influences from the works of the legends into one film.
With films like Ottesi Cheptunna, O Chinadana, Yamudiki Mogudu, director E Satti Babu has tasted considerable success with comedies over the years but his latest outing confirms that he isn’t in sync with the times. The tropes and the sensibilities in Match Fixing are heavily borrowed from the 80s and the 90s Telugu cinema that hold no relevance to current-day audiences, more so in the digital medium.
The issue of Match Fixing isn’t with the outdated story. It’s about the absence of any effort from the team to give it a modern-day spin and it results in one old-fashioned mess. The only purpose of the lead characters - Sivaji and Kishore - is to find a girl for marriage; it’s as if they don’t have any personality beyond it. They’re surrounded by equally bizarre family members who keep giving them unnecessary relationship advice and complicate their love life further.
The mother and the father of a village girl Mahalakshmi confirm their daughter’s alliance with two men - Sivaji, Kishore - without each other’s knowledge. The film is all about how the parents of the bride, bridegroom(s) handle the tricky scenario. It’s a premise where there’s abundant scope for solid confusion comedy but it lazily borrows references from several popular films and doesn’t offer the actors any chance to create something original.
The eccentricities of the fathers’ characters are exactly replicated from Jandhyala’s films - there’s a direct reference to Suthi Veerabhadra Rao, and you spot similarities with Aha Na Pellanta and Srivariki Premalekha. The cheeky one-liners with sexual innuendos are cut from the same cloth as EVV Satyanarayana’s films. It’s quite distracting everything in the film takes the viewer back to yesteryear cinema.
If you’re among those who isn’t interested in this ‘spot-the-reference’ game, there’s not much for you in it. Comedy is born out of exaggeration and requires irreverence, and conviction on the part of the director and the actors to translate well on the screen. What seems absurd in Match Fixing could’ve been great fun in the hands of the right filmmaker. The efforts are so half-hearted in Match Fixing - the writing, the performances and it’s a joyless experience to watch it.
The target audiences for Match Fixing are perhaps those who wish to experience the nostalgia of old-school comedies again. However, when a viewer has the luxury of watching old films on OTT, why would they bother about a cheap copy? If you’re compelled to name any performances that strike a chord, they come from Viswant, Surekhavani and Goparaju Ramana. Abhijeeth Poondla is passable but needs to liberate himself as an artiste to perform comedy better.
Both the female leads - Vasanthi Krishnan, Pragya Nayan - have very little to do. Kedar Shankar, Sivannarayana, Shakalaka Shankar aren’t at their best either. If E Satti Babu does something well, it’s to not populate the film with unnecessary songs and add to the agony of the viewer. Even with a two-hour runtime, Match Fixing makes for a tiresome watch; beyond a point, you stop caring for the cacophony.
Match Fixing is a confusion comedy surrounding a wedding that barely takes off. The premise is unoriginal, heavily derived from the works of Jandhyala, EVV Satyanarayana and other 80s, 90s films. Director E Satti Babu doesn’t bother to upgrade the template for the current-day audience. Amidst the limitations, Viswant, Surekhavani and Goparaju Ramana make an impact.
(The film can be watched on ETV Win )