Rating: 5/10 (Underwhelming)
Cast; Akhil Akkineni, Kalyani Priyadarshini, Jagapathi Babu, Ramya Krishna, Ajay, Krishnudu, Anish Kuruvilla, Mikhail Gandhi
Written and Directed by- Vikram K Kumar
Producer: Akkineni Nagarjuna
Banner: Annapurna Studios/Manam Enterprises
Akhil Akkineni had a disastrous debut in the form of Akhil which was severely panned for a lack of a good story and was pure nonsense in all honesty. After a gap of 2 years, Akhil is back with Hello directed by Vikram K Kumar and his father Ngarjuna promised to deliver a blockbuster. Did their promise work out in the end? Let's find out
Plot: When Seenu (Akhil) and Junnu (Kalyani Priyadarshini) are separated during their childhood, they both eagerly wait to find each other after a gap of nearly 15 years. Whether or not these two soulmates finally get back together is what the rest of Hello is all about.
Performances: Akhil Akkineni has improved a lot since his first movie. He is superb in action sequences, shows grace in his dances, and has a good screen presence that can be utilized further in the coming years. He does a pretty good job in Hello and hopefully he will grow as an actor. He has all of the qualities to become a big star in Tollywood.
Kalyani Priyadarshini is alright as the female lead but has good looks and a friendly screen presence.
Ajay is wasted in a pathetic character that lasts barely 5-7 minutes.
It's Jagapathi Babu ad Ramya Krishna that are the pillars of the movie. They are outstanding as usual.
The child artist who play play Seenu and Jeenu are fabulous and the girl that plays Junnu is probably the best actor in the movie. She is adorable and gives excellent expressions.
Krishnudu gets a small role and makes the most of it
Direction: Vikram K Kumar is a man who's known for making complex stories seem so simple. He also has a knack for playing around with different timelines in movies such as Manam and 24. He has successfully established himself as a brilliant filmmaker and the audiences expect something new out of his products every time. It is safe to say that in Hello, he disappoints for the very first time. The story of the film itself is a huge problem. It is very weak and doesn't have enough content to weave an entertaining narrative around. We expect something novel with the story but the movie never really moves above the average mark on the graph. The subplot with the phone could have been better intertwined into the narrative to give it more an action angle and make the proceedings more crisp. But Vikram Kumar does not do that and he tries to play around with timelines again in this movie with a flashback 15 years ago, a week flashback, and the present and the narrative feels rather disjointed than engaging. Also the romance showed between the two leads are illogical. When you re 5 or 7 years old, most people are afraid to even touch a boy or girl let alone talk to them for a long time. But in hello, Seenu and Jeenu are seen doing everything together and spending their entire days together like they are serious couple just waiting to put a ring on it to make it official. I don't think that young kids can experience infatuation or love at such a young age which makes the whole film unconvincing to an extent. Also add the fact that neither Akhil or Kalyani have a job in the film which further adds to the fact that these people just love to waste time. And in the interval, the fact that Akhil could spot his phone amidst all of the some 1000 phones that fell is just beyond me. Overall, Vikram Kumar is disappointing with his direction for the very first time and shockingly makes an illogical film at times which lacks an interesting or engaging narrative.
Technicalities: Technical wise, Hello is an outstanding film. Anup Rubens in his 50th film delivers a riveting background score. The songs are alright with the title song being nice to watch on screen. Cinematography by PS Vinod is excellent. The visuals in the movie are rich and grand. Editing by Prawin Pudi is fine. Art by Rajeevan is very good. Action sequences by Bob Brown are incredible. For the first time in Telugu cinema, Akhil and co have attempted something new in parkour style fights instead of gravity defying and transformer exploding fights. While the fights are excellently choreographed, one feels that such stylish fights are needed in a film like this as the action orientation is not an integral part of the main story rather just a subplot within it. Dialogues are alright. Production Values by Akkineni Nagarjuna are outstanding. He has spent every penny possible to make Akhil's comeback as grand and visually appealing as possible.
+ Production Values and Background Score
Analysis and Final Take: After a disastrous debut in Akhil, it took almost 2 years for Akhil to come out of his cage and get back to work. He chose Vikram Kumar, the man known for delivering the classic Manam and also who utilized Akhil's screen presence for a maximum of 30 seconds in the climax of the film.
When fans like me heard that the same director was now going to utilize Akhil in a full-fledged film, we all got very excited. In fact, before the release, the only positive thing going for the film was the brand of Vikram Kumar and everything else was a negative.
Post release, it's ironic that the situation is actually the complete opposite. Everything about Hello is good except the director himself and he has let down the audience for the very first time.
The film opens up with Nagarjuna's voice over about how to find your soulmate in life. Akhil is then introduced in the title song and then he gives a voice-over about how longs for Junnu. We are then treated to a long chase parkour type sequence where Akhil loses his phone and then a long flashback featuring the romance between Junnu and Seenu eats up the rest of the first half. The interval bang is alright and then the film moves into the 2nd half with some good pace but the emotions are a bit dragged and the songs come as speed-breakers. Add the fact that Akhil doesn't have a job and Priya doesn't either, the movie really makes you question what they do on a day to day basis.
The phone mafia subplot could have been utilized to make the film a more engaging watch but in totality, the movie lacks the Vikram K Kumar mark without any exciting or brilliant moments.
Besides showing Akhil in a positive light and showing his improvements, he fails to make Hello the much needed comeback for Akhil in my opinion.
Overall, Hello is an underwhelming film from Akhil and Vikram Kumar and is easily the director's weakest work to date. Despite excellent production values and an improved performance from Akhil Akkineni, the film lacks any exciting or brilliant moments to make it stand out and has a weak story at its forefront. You may watch it only for an new and improved Akhil and some good visuals.