Veera Simha Reddy, Streaming on Disney+ Hotstar, Feels Like An AI-Generated Balakrishna Film
Veera Simha Reddy feels like old wine in a new bottle. The film is loud and generic. It’s a formulaic, and cliched film. Veera Simha Reddy is a routine and predictable faction drama.
If you’re wondering why I’m delving only into cliches it’s because I am being reflective of Veera Simha Reddy, a film that doesn’t even care to try and be new. Nobody expects it to be pathbreaking cinema, but even as a Balakrishna film, there’s nothing new on offer. It’s part of an assembly line of a few Balakrishna-isms.
Two Balakrishnas. One naïve. One protector. The former is the son. The latter is the father. Loud background music and constant repeating of the title song with every movement of the actor. A flashback involving a fresh villain who has a grouse with the older Balakrishna. Lots of meta moments. In fact, the film itself feels like an excuse to deliver meta moments and political punchlines. A heroine each opposite the younger Balakrishna and the older one where both pairs look like father-daughter duos. And a climactic showdown where the hapless villain is killed.
Here the heroines are Shruti Hassan and Honey Rose (she plays the mother to the younger Balakrishna) and Duniya Vijay plays the villain. Varalaxmi Sarath Kumar plays a villain-adjacent character with a loudness seen in Krack.
Balakrishna’s films with Boyapati Srinu, despite using the same beats, attempted to offer something new. Akhanda (2021) used Hindu mysticism, Legend (2014) and Simha (2010) had some elements of progressive thought that were doled out by its leading man. But Veera Simha Reddy doesn’t use this set of beats to attempt something new. The dialogues seem like cowardice – using films as a way to play out the political fantasies of its leading star who is also a Member of the Legislative Assembly from Hindupur. A public representative’s work should speak for itself more in real life rather than on reel as is the case with Balakrishna. To call the constant harking back to legacy cliched itself is a cliché. The infantilising of people from the region of Rayalaseema and celebrating a feudal casteist stance is such an age-old technique it wouldn’t qualify as a heroine in a Balakrishna film.
Maybe that’s the ploy. To consistently make worse films so the previous films feel like art and create nostalgia for the better times. Push the bar low enough a year or two later and even this film will feel like the ‘good old times’.
There was a glimmer of hope when an unfamiliar fate awaits the older Balakrishna around the interval mark. But the film is so stuck on taking the path more traveled that the second half felt like a true testament to the idea that everything is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy.
Even the self-aware references to Jai Ballayya which have turned the ironic mocking phrase Jai Balayya into a clarion call to celebrate the leading man feel cheap and artificial. Good cinema is supposed to move people but Veera Simha Reddy only made me want to move from my seat. Or if I have to stick to how familiar the film feels then I should say the film was routine, boring, predictable, generic, and formulaic.