Directed by KS Hemraj, the film revolves around a dinner table conversation among friends that takes an ugly turn
Last Updated: 11.05 AM, Mar 01, 2023
A group of college buddies reunite at their common friend Riche’s wedding in Ooty. One among them is the latter’s ex who’s clearly not moved on. Two other couples have their own mess to deal with; another is a television actor facing sexual harassment charges. There’s a man-child who can’t hold his horses amidst women. A tricky game over a dinner party alters the course of their lives.
Dinner party dramas/thrillers are commonplace in the West, though the genre hasn’t caught the fascination of our storytellers much over the years. It’s not hard to understand why; the genre is believed to cater to a niche audience and is also a true test of a director’s skill. The visual scope of the story is restrictive, the screenplay is a hard nut to crack (minus the space for commercial liberties) and the writing needs to be absolutely precise.
Richie Gadi Pelli is all about a wicked game at a dinner party where a friend challenges his counterparts to attend their calls on ‘speaker ’. With truth bombs bursting one after the other, the ‘fun’ experiment reveals the true colours of their not-so-perfect lives, wreaking havoc on their relationships. The game takes an ugly turn when the bridegroom needs to bear the brunt of it.
Director KS Hemraj believes an attractive topping could make up for a rotten cake and the result is a catastrophe. Beyond the premise, the ambience of the film is a mess. The telephonic conversations are sexist and the verbal diarrhoea is intolerable. The superficiality in its world - the one-note characterisation, the under-wrought conflicts and simplistic resolutions - is hard to handle.
It’s puzzling how all the characters need to battle their inner demons only between 10.30pm-12 am in a dinner party. Even before they land at a wedding, the filmmaker is in a hurry to establish their conflicts (which are largely infidelity and trust issues in relationships) and the male gaze is quite evident in the writing. He seeks to ‘transform’ his characters merely over phone conversations.
Expectedly, boozing and smoking are the tools to showcase the creator’s idea of modern-day women. A female journalist is called out for being ‘woke’ and she, in return, shames another television actor charged for sexual harassment. A married man in the company of a 10-year-old kid proudly hits on a hotel receptionist. A vet helps a cow deliver a calf over phone. Issues as serious as infidelity are resolved within one-liners.
The bizarre climax, where the bride creates a ruckus about the protagonist’s past, is unintentionally hilarious. It’s as if a crew went to a hill station for a picnic and forgot that they had to make a film. Richie Gadi Pelli is an ordeal to sit through, despite the 110-minute runtime. It’s good to explore uncharted terrains in storytelling but it’s equally important to remember the basics - engaging screenplay and good performances are a bare minimum.
Naveen Neni is the only actor who remains tolerable among the lot. Praneeta Patnaik’s expressions feel repetitive while Sathya SK, Chandana Raj and Bunny Vox’s characters lack meat. The songs are hummable, though the climax number is wasted in an unworthy situation. The jokes on the Me Too movement, the desperate attempt to demerit its significance, are unwarranted.
If Richie Gadi Pelli was a mobile contact, you’d rather want to add it to your blocklist. The conversational drama unfolding over a dinner party is amateurishly written, poorly enacted and executed. There’s no silver-lining here and the director KS Hemraj misuses the potential of a good premise with a directionless screenplay.