Cast: Naga Chaitanya , Raashi Khanna, Malavika Nair, Avika Gor, Sai Sushanth Reddy
Director: Vikram K Kumar
I saw Thank You. It starred Akkineni Naga Chaitanya, Malavika Nair, Raashi Khanna, and a few other actors. The main character is Abhiram. Naga Chaitanya plays that character. He comes to the US for a job. He creates a health-related app. He falls in love with Priya. Rashi Khanna plays that character. But Abhiram becomes arrogant. Priya almost leaves him. He then goes and says 'Thank You' to all the people who helped him. He and Priya get back together. The end.
Read those sentences again. That's how blandly the film Thank You unfolds. At some point, my jaw dropped wondering if this was really Vikram Kumar's film – given that he managed to delve into the intricacies of time travel in 24, and he gave probably the most family-friendly sci-film since Aditya 369 in Manam.
Every couple of years there seems to come a film that wants to tell the story of men reflecting upon their various phases of life – school life, college life, and working life – to become better men. Whether it was Naa Autograph, Premam, Happy Days, or even Maharshi in its own dull but "big hero" way, and Thank You is the newest and blandest addition to that list.
There are hints of something fresh. Pokiri has just been released and young fans are going delirious. Abhiram and Sharva (Sai Sushanth) are college rivals and they are competing with each other on who can unfurl the biggest Mahesh Babu cut-out. Sharva thinks he's won this round but there is some clever undoing of what is expected resulting in a genuine masala moment for both Mahesh Babu fans and Naga Chaitanya. There is even a great call back to it in the second half where Sharva – now a successful politician – still fears the same humiliation that he suffered at the hands of Abhiram nearly two decades ago.
This sequence felt the most original and resulted in me feeling something. That's how low the bar is once the film begins. Make me feel something. The rest of Thank You feels like the showreel of must-have scenes from other films. Some of it feels similar to Chaitanya's own Premam and Majili. Some of the actor's body language is too similar to his previous films. It's far too derivative. PC Sreeram tries some interesting angles during the "college" phase of Abhiram's life but at its core, the story is so generic that no matter where he places the camera and how long a take is, we are barely ever invested in it.
I thought the protagonist being named Abhiram was a hat tip to Nagarjuna's Manmadhudu where another arrogant man learns humility and romance the hard way. There, too, he has a tragic past from his younger days. And because it is Vikram Kumar who helms the film, I expected something bigger and deeper and definitely more ambitious. Instead what we get is not only his blandest film but his least ambitious film.