Family Star Review: A Boring Imitation of Geetha Govindam That Suffers From The Delusion of Being Meaningful

Filled with messy writing, Parasuram Petla’s film is reminiscent of Geetha Govindam and it is not a good thing
Family Star review
Family Star review

Director and Writer: Parasuram

Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Mrunal Thakur, Rohini Hattangadi, Jagapathi Babu

Duration: 163 minutes

Available in: Theatres

Family Star is to Parasuram Petla, what Aagadu (2014) was to Sreenu Vytla. Let me explain. In 2011, Sreenu Vytla and Mahesh Babu delivered the comedy blockbuster that was Dookudu. When they joined forces for the second time, for Aagadu, the film suffered from a terrible Dookudu hangover, borrowing its blueprint, and its intention to recreate the magic of the first film was evident. Naturally, this hangover didn’t clearly work in favour of Aagadu and this is the primal issue with Family Star, which desperately tries to recreate Geetha Govindam, which marked the first collaboration between Parasuram Petla and Vijay Deverakaonda. It wouldn’t be a grave exaggeration to say that Family Star mimics the structure of Geetha Govindam (2018) from the word go. The story beats, the placement of incidents, the reveals, the progression of character arcs... they all imitate Geetha Govindam. It is the girl who misunderstands the intentions of the nice guy in Geetha Govindam, here it is the guy who mistakes the girl’s intention. And both of the films run on the dynamic and the ego plays that ensues. While Geetha Govindam itself wasn’t a great film, there was some charm between the leads and amusement in the way this misunderstanding played out. Family Star feels like a lifeless imitation of Geetha Govindam and it suffers from the delusion of being meaningful.

A still from Family Star
A still from Family Star

Speaking of meaning, Family Star aspires to balance sensibility with humor in its portrayal of middle-class life, a concept that the film is absolutely in love with and cannot stop romanticising. Since it wants to appear all sensible and meaningful, it cannot afford to make jokes like the one we saw in Samajavaragamana (2023), which invokes a great volume of humour from its middle-class setting and the money-minded protagonist. Here, there is an attempt to lionise the middle-class-ness of our hero, Govardhan (Vijay Deverakonda). We see him for the first time as he jumps in the air to cross a car with a goon sack as he runs to the government-run shop to get onions. It overdoes this middle-class angle to such an extent that it comes across as downright condescending at one point and is naturally, neither funny nor relatable, as intended. It’s funny how the makers believed this middle-class protagonist would come across as relatable. 

Let me give you an example. A loan shark enters Govardhan’s house and misbehaves with the sister-in-law, demanding for his money to be returned. Cut to a mass fight sequence where Govardhan brings his entire family to the loan shark’s place in an auto (I was wondering how they all fit in just one auto), and tells the kids to watch and learn how to deal with bullies. He breaks heads, slashes bodies, and makes men fly as some sloka-like vocals play in the background, and the children look traumatised by the bloodshed they have been forced to watch. The trauma of the children is still not the biggest issue with the sequence. It is the final punch, which is a glorified, polished rape threat, that the hero delivers to the bad guy. Didn’t the whole fight begin because the bad guy slyly warned the sister-in-law to sleep with him? And Govardhan is paying it back with a rape threat to the women in the bad guy’s house. The film reeks of such problems that are dropped so casually. It lacks depth and everything is simplified. I’m not someone to look for political correctness or even logic in a film as long as it's entertaining. But in Family Star, it is just not possible to overlook the glitches, both moral and craft-wise.

A still from Family Star
A still from Family Star

For a film that claims to celebrate the middle class, it gets unbelievably aspirational around the halfway mark. I’m not asserting that the character shouldn’t evolve or progress, but the way it happens is just so convenient that you don’t take the film or its intention seriously. Jagapathi Babu’s character appears like a miracle and changes the course of our hero in one scene and what’s supposed to be a Narasimha(1999)-like rags-to-riches moment has zero impact. And speaking of impact, there are two scenes involving a ‘slap’ that should have ideally worked big time on an emotional level. They work as ideas on paper but never land as moments because the characters are so hard to care for. And the film just goes haywire in the final 20 minutes with the introduction of a villain out of the blue. The film just hammers you with cliches and it is too much to take in.

While its structure is reminiscent of Geetha Govindam on numerous levels, it fails at the core—as a romantic comedy because it never makes us root for the couple. Mrunal Thakur as Indhu is stuck in a terribly written role that restricts her to a single expression in many scenes in the second half. Indhu joins the long list of terribly written female characters in Telugu cinema and the film, while acknowledging Govardhan’s mistake, doesn’t really do justice to her at the end. Even the film’s attempt at celebrating families and the ‘stars’ that contribute to the growth of well-being of the family are all reduced to a monologue that’s unintentionally hilarious because the film never sold you the family bonding, despite numerous attempts.

Amidst all the artificiality and blandness, the film comes to life when Rohini Hattangadi, Govardhan’s grandmother appears on the screen. Their lovely interactions come across as some respite from the fakeness and briefly show what this film could have been. That just wasn’t enough.

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