Rating: 3/10 (Colossal Disappointment)
The last time Srinu Vytla and Mahesh Babu teamed up, they delivered a memorable blockbuster called Dookudu. Now they have teamed up for the 2nd time for a film called Aagadu which means he won't halt. The movie had sky high expectations because of the previous hit they delivered and trailers, promos, and blockbuster album have increased the expectations to the sky. Did Mahesh and Vaitla deliver what could be the next all time industry hit? Find out in my review
Story: Aagadu is about Shankar(Mahesh Babu) is an orphan and is adopted by Raja Rao(Rajendra Prasad) an honest and friendly cop. He essentially becomes a younger brother to Bharath (Ajay). A small incident happens which is Bharath's fault and Shankar takes the blame and Raja Rao disowns him and tells him to never come back. He goes to the police academy and eventually becomes a fearless and ruthless cop in present day called Encounter Shankar, who uses unconventional and out of the box methods to catch or eliminate criminals. Bukkapatnam is a town terrorized by a don named Damodar (Sonu Sood) and he wants to build a huge factory but it is strictly opposed by the townspeople but the cops and townspeople are helpless and Damodar kills anyone that disapproves of his project. And so our hero Shankar gets transferred to the town as the new CI (Circle Inspector) and of course reduces the villain to an ant. In the meantime, he falls in love with Saroja (Tammanah), a sweet shop lady who dreams of going to America by being married off to some rich guy. How Shankar finds a personal connection to Damodar and how Delhi Suri (Brahmi) fits into his game of taking down Damu once and for all forms the rest of the story.
Performances: If there's a reason to watch this tedious film, look no further than SuperStar Mahesh Babu. He is simply outstanding as Encounter Shankar and his dialogues, body language, modulation, and his performance during the action sequences are spotless as usual. He is as energetic as ever and does a good job mouthing lengthy stories to the villains every time to trick them or make them feel some sympathy towards him. One does wonder though why he's shouting half the time.
Tammanah is absolutely wasted in a role that requires her for 4 odd scenes and 3 songs. Sonu Sood as Damodar is ok. He also had to mouth non stop dialogues at times.
Posani, Raghubabu, and Prabhas Sreenu are very entertaining as the goons of the villain who run illegal businesses. Posani's performance in Potugadu episode is too good and absolutely hilarious. Brahmi is absolutely wasted and MS Narayana is decent. Tanikella Bharani and Prudhvi bring the house down with their hilarious antics in Saroja Sweets ads. Nasser, Vennela Kishore, Adhurs Raghu, Brahmaji, Ajay, and Rajendra Prasad are all adequate.
Technicalities: Music by Thaman is very good but at times the songs are too loud. Background music is good in the first half but below average in the 2nd half. The songs are all picturized very well and shot extravagantly. Special mention must be made to the Aagadu title song. That is the best introduction song in the history of Telugu cinema to date. Cinematography by KV Guhan is excellent. He has captured certain scenes in a stunning way and also does a great job during the songs. Editing by MR Varma is ok. Fights by Vijay are well composed but way too over the top. Dialogues by Anil Ravipudi, Upendra Madhav & Praveen Varma are too lengthy and rhyme way too much. Before you can understand one, another one comes and you're left trying to catch up and understand what they're saying. Art by AS Prakash is nice. Production values by 14 Reels Entertainment are outstanding and grand. The film is shot stylishly and in a very rich way.
Analysis: When Srinu Vaitla announced Aagadu with Mahesh, all Superfans including me were so excited because the sheer thought of another film like Dookudu made us lick our chops. Teaser was fantastic, songs are great, trailer was out of this world, and the promos had so much to look forward to. And you'd think what could go wrong right? Well in this case, everything went wrong.
During the filming stages, the film was in the news for the wrong reasons specifically cause of Vaitla's fall out with his long time associate Kona Venkat and the replacement of Prakash Raj halfway through the movie. Viatla took the responsibility of doing the script work himself and the end result is a half baked product that is Aagadu. In this film, whose title means he won't stop, literally nothing stops. One dialogue comes one after the other, song after another, fight after another, comedy scene after another, you name it. At one point you're brain is saying hold up give me a chance to catch my thoughts for a second so I can actually process what's going on. But before that happens, the films throws something at you again and you're left trying to process things again.
There is absolutely nothing wrong in the 1st half of Aagadu. It is excellent to say the least. The introduction scene followed by the intro song and the the conflict sets up the mood and tempo of the film nicely. Everything is followed up with an action or comedy scene and the first half runs just like that and you never feel bored due to Vaitla's entertaining screenplay. Mahesh mesmerizes you as Shankar and puts the film on his shoulders. After a decent interval bang, you wonder what else could Vaitla do to keep you engaged you in the 2nd half. And the answer is nothing.
After an entertaining 1st half, Vaitla reveals all the twists in the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half and pretty much wraps up the story. But the movie treads on. I don't know if Vaitla realized it, but you need two engaging halfs to make a movie a hit, not only one. It's like taking a test. If you only answer half the questions and leave the other half blank, you're gonna fail the test because you only managed to give a response to half of what you did and not everything. Aagadu is no different. The 2nd half of Aagadu is like watching paint dry and Vaitla uses his Brahmi bakra formula to eliminate the villains and this formula is fresh in the minds of the audience because it is identical to Dookudu as to how Vaitla finished off the villains in that films 2nd half. Everything about Aagadu's 2nd half is awful and repetitive and your patience will be tested as to how much more nonsense you can handle from Vaitla before the movie ends. This is his worst film to date and an awful gift to Mahesh fans.
On a whole, Aagadu is a colossal disappoint and shows everything that can go wrong for a big budget film and proves that the same formula will not work every time. Full blame goes to Srinu Vaitla for his poor direction and script. This movie could have been the biggest all time hit in Telugu film industry but sinks due to a horrendous 2nd half that is identical to Dookudu and has nothing new to offer.
Despite Mahesh Babu's stunning performance, this action entertainer doesn't have gas in the tank to make to its destination and stops halfway.
If you're a die hard fan of Mahesh Babu, you can watch it but don't be surprised if you feel disappointed after because I know I did. I'm going with 3/10 for Mahesh and the cinematography.