Director: Lakshmi Sowjanya
Writers: Lakshmi Sowjanya (story), Ganesh Kumar Ravuri (dialogues)
Cast: Naga Shaurya, Ritu Varma, Murali Sharma, Nadiya, Vennela Kishore, Praveen, Harsha Vardhan
It's been a long time since I've seen a film with such an expendable second half. But I can't say that the film is bloated or required a trimmer edit because it would mean that only a few scenes ruined the film's length. The problem is that Varudu Kavalenu doesn't have drama worth a feature-length film at all.
Varudu Kavalenu is the story of Bhoomi (Ritu Varma) who has entrepreneurial ambitions with her Fab India-esque company, throwing in some dreams about going green and all. Her mother (Nadhiya), however, wants her married. What does Bhoomi want and will her mother find a suitable boy for her is the crux of the film. The answer to everything is Akash (Naga Shaurya).
Writer-director Lakshmi Sowjanya presents a somewhat confused screenplay because at first, she wants us to think it's a film about a woman chasing her dreams while society and family try to put marital obstacles in her path. But then, she puts the 'perfect' Akash in front of her and the obstacles get cleared in an instant.
Soon, the film loses steam because he is that perfect – he loves her, he supports her dreams, he is at least a millionaire if not a billionaire, looks stunning in tight-fitting clothes and is always ready for a fight to background music (the ultimate package for a heroine in a poorly written film).
With such 'flawless' characters, there is no meat for drama. So, the film meanders into a predictable and flavourless flashback, rom-com cliches, comedy tracks (do we really need them still in 2021!), greenery of the countryside, a near wedding video-esque montage, awful and stale dialogue etc.
If there is anything worth noting it's that Ritu Varma tries her best to save this film adding dignity to a character whose emotional spectrum is 'angry and arrogant' to 'naïve and in love'. I don't think there are too many actors today who can do such a good job of looking disappointed in others and still make the characters likable. Yet, as the film also wants her to sing and dance and croon cheesy lyrics, Ritu Varma struggles rather visibly.
The costume design does more for her in this film than the writing ever did. What's the point of building Bhoomi up to be so strong, flawed but relatable if she's going to melt and break into a duet at the first sign of 'heroism'. And when it's revealed that her present actions and opinions are due to a bad romance in the past it makes all the hype around her character fall flat.
But Ritu Varma's job is that much harder because she and Naga Shourya seem to have no chemistry. I won't blame that on Naga Shourya because Akash is a poorly written character whose sole purpose seems to be 'look good, dress good and Vishal Chandrashekhar, the music director will take care' (more on him later).
Maybe it's progress that we get a male version of the 'bubbly' girl trope, but it certainly doesn't make for good cinema. He's one of those actors struggling to find a niche for himself in a post-Arjun Reddy world. Does he play the angry young man? Or the handsome young rom-com lead? Or is there another space he can occupy? This film doesn't do much to make his niche any clearer.
If there is one person who has put in a lot of work in Varudu Kaavalenu, it is Vishal Chandreshekar — his background music telling you what to feel and the songs giving you an opportunity to look at your phone. It's not that the songs are bad or the music is poor – it's all excellent – it just doesn't feel earned. Sid Sriram's soft voice, an item song (where Ritu Varma looks like she's being punished), sad songs, happy songs, fusion music, and all the king's horses couldn't fix the film.
Varudu Kavalenu needed better writing in the first half and a different second half.