I'll admit. For someone that doesn't watch action films as frequently as she should, Trivikram Srinivas's Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo reeled me in hook, line and sinker. While Allu Arjun's self-aware comedy, S. Thaman's catchy soundtrack, and a fail-safe family drama template won me over. What took me by surprise was the equally mesmerising fight sequences of this action-drama hit.
For the uninitiated, Ala Vaikunthapuramuloo (streaming on Netflix) is the 2020 Telugu film starring Allu Arjun, Pooja Hegde, Tabu and Jayaram, following Bantu (Allu Arjun) as he finds out about his true parentage and navigates a path to establish himself in the family he truly belongs to. The official Hindi remake of this film Shehzada starring Kartik Aaryan and Kriti Sanon is all set to release on 17th February, 2023.
There's something unmistakeably Allu when he plays to an audience's desires without you knowing it was even possible for him to: he plays the loving son, the dutiful brother and the soft hearted lover all with ample ease. He's also a comic, as seen in the acclaimed boardroom sequence, where he plays major film song hits to lighten the tone of a rather serious shares deal, with supporting cast members requesting songs they know the audience will too.
However, where Allu truly shines in the film is in the fight scenes, and while the film has two or three really popular ones, the one towards the end stands out in particular, where Allu fights in slow motion, with a sickle in hand, a beedi unmoving from his lips, a slow folk song playing in the background.
There's something mesmerising about the hero entrance Bantu makes, while the villain makes barbeque and sings "Sitharala Sirapadu" (translation: he is a miracle worker). Bantu, in his shades and with a scarf tied around his head in the traditional way agriculturalists do in the South, picks up a rooster, lights a beedi with the sparks flying from his sickle as he scrapes it across metal and enters the fray.
The inherently traditional style of music, a style of song one associates with farmers and village festivals, paired with the cleanness of the fight stunts made the whole sequence seem less like a fight scene and more like a dance, as Allu moves and sways to fight his opponents with the grace of a swan, never missing a beat. Allu Arjun dances his way across the sequence, every hit, twist and kick of his matching S. Thaman's toe-tapping beat. It's no wonder that the film became one of the biggest hits of the year.