Rating: 5/10 (Emotional yet Unconvincing)
Cast: Vijay Deverakonda, Rashmika Mandanna, Suhas, Charuhasan, Sruthi Ramachandran, Raj Arjun, Anand
Story-Screenplay-Dialogues-Direction: Bharat Kamma
Music: Justin Prabhakaran
Producers: Naveen Yalamanchili, Y Ravi Shankar, CVM Mohan, Yash Rangineni
Banner: Mythri Movie Makers, Big Ben Cinemas
Vijay Deverakonda is finally back with his latest movie, Dear Comrade. The film has been in news so it was launched and was touted to be a game changer for the actor. Due to Arjun Reddy and Geetha Govindam, the expectations had risen to a new level due to the success of latter as it also starts Rashmika Mandanna. Directed by debutante Bharat Kamma, does the movie live upto the hype? Let's find out in today's review.
Plot: Dear Comrade tells the story of two family friends Chaitanya aka Bobby (Vijay Deverakonda and Aparna Devi aka Lilly (Rashmika) and their relationship and what ensues.
Performances: After Arjun Reddy, Vijay Deverakonda gets another chance to play an angry young man with anger management issues. He does a good job of bring out the various emotions whether it be pain, sadness, anger, happiness and plays his role to perfection. It's not the best performance but he does what's expected of him.
Rashmika Mandanna is decent as the female lead. Her acting is def good and her deglam look works well for the plot, but the crying and emotional scenes could have been much better. The chemistry between Vijay and Rashmika isn't as seamless as it was in Geetha Govindam and feels a bit off.
The rest of the actors in the movie make no impact. Suhas as Vijay's friend, Shruthi Ramachandran as Rashmika's sister, Charuhasan as Vijay's grandpa and Anand as Vijays father are all wasted.
Secret Superstar fame Raj Arjun gets another negative role and makes the most of it despite limited screen time.
Direction: This is Bharat Kamma's first film. Debutantes either go two ways. They either score a blockbuster or go the completely wrong way. Unfortunately, Dear Comrade falls into the latter category. The script on paper is adequate at best. But it has too many lags and fluff for it to be engaging and definitely should have been cleaned up. The problem with the film is that it tries to balance two simultaneous issues at hand, one being anger management and other being sexual harassment. But one feels the film tackles neither properly and tries really hard at the end to satisfy both and fails miserably. The main problem is Bharat's execution. The film lacks any memorable scenes or any wow moments in the script that stand out. The film just continues to move on a plain graph and never elevates. The narrative style is quite bland and boring. He tries to incorporate some commercial elements by adding fights in addition to the college politics angle. But even that feels artificial. Another big problem is that the film doesn't have a clear cut identity which its biggest undoing. There are one too many things going on and the pace and length are major issues which should have been corrected. This inability and uneven narrative gives you the feeling that you are watching two different films on one ticket. If Bharat had come to the point quicker in the 2nd half, then the film would have been much better in my opinion. In the name of honesty and realism, it undoes whatever potential it has. Overall, Bharat Kamma squanders a great concept with his execution and Dear Comrade ends up being a disappointment in the end.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by Justin Prabhakaran is fabulous. Most of the songs are montage songs and the violin BGM that comes at times is really heart touching and emotional. He does a fantastic job of elevating somes scenes in the end. Cinematography by Sujith Sarang is outstanding and incredible. The visuals of the movie are amazing and beautifully complement the story with the various color palettes throughout. Product Design by Ramanajaneyulu is excellent. The house sets and locations give the movie a very natural and realistic look. Editing by Sreejith Sarang is bad. I really don't like to bash editors because it's the directors call but this movie is way too long. All of the scenes of Vijay going north and a solid 30 mins in the 2nd half should have been cut to make the movie have a much better moviegoing experience. Dialogues by Bharat Kamma are alright. Fights by G. Murali are useless. That's mainly due to narrative and execution. Costumes are alright. Production Values by Mythri Movie Makers and Big Ben Cinemas are extravagant. The movie looks rich from start to finish.
+ Vijay Deverakonda
+ Rashmika Mandanna
+ Cinematography and Music
Analysis and Final Verdict: When Dear Comrade was announced it was somewhere in between Pellichoopulu and Arjun Reddy. Naturally after the success of Pellichoopulu, fans were excited to see more of Vjiay Deverakonda. Then Arjun Reddy happened and suddenly he had this new found popularity among the movie going audience. Then Geetha Govindam happened and cemented his position as a star and slowly climbing his way to reach the industry's elite stars.
Naturally, the Vijay Deverakonda when Dear Comrade was first announced and the one now are two very different people. With that comes bigger expectations and needs and wants from people. Unfortunately, Dear Comrade doesn't meet the expectations.
To put it simply, the film is a disappointment and a huge missed opportunity by Deverakonda and team. The film's biggest problem is the direction. Director Bharat Kamma had a great concept but it's wasted due to his lethargic and flat execution.
The premise and the message of the film is very good, but in the end it just doesn't feel convincing due to the artificiality of the direction. The film starts off with Bobby craving for Lilly and takes them to their flashback. The romantic track between Lilly and Bobby is not established well at all and feels very superficial once again. Yes it could be termed as mutual attraction, but it's just not developed that well at all. The first half is passable despite some boring scenes.
The 2nd half is the where the real problem starts. By the time they get to the point, they've already wasted so much of your time and you start to wonder what film you're exactly watching. As mentioned in the direction part, it's like watching two different movies one ticket due to the non existent identity of the film. The film would have much had more impact if it had released during at the height of the MeToo movement in India. And at this point the movie becomes like an unwanted chore.
The fights and student politics is rendered useless. While the promos and posters gave Shiva vibes, the film is nothing like that classic. The fights are just there and they have 0 impact. This is Vijay's first attempt at action and he fails mightily, but that's more dye to the execution than him.
The interval fight had potential to be a firecracker. Instead it doesn't even get to take off. Think of it in terms of a lion roaring but instead you get a cat meowing. I should mention Vijay also gets the living daylights kicked out of him in almost every fight.
Despite Vijay and Rashmika's solid performances, even chemistry isn't enough to save this movie. The film is highly emotional but you only feel it in parts instead of throughout the movie.
Overall, Dear Comrade is an emotional yet very unconvincing film due to the bland execution by director Bharat Kamma. Despite Vijay and Rashmika trying their best, it's hard to like this movie due to the aritificality throughout the narrative. In all, it's a film that makes you wanting so much more in the end because you know it could have been so much better. A massive missed opportunity for sure. Watch it if you're a Vijay Deverakonda fan or really want to watch something this weekend.