Rating: 5/10 (Strictly OK)
Cast: Sai Dharam Tej, Raashi Khanna, SathyaRaj, Rao Ramesh, Prabha, Hari Teja, Ajay, Srikanth Iyengar, Satyam Rajesh, Jabardasth Mahesh, Dr. Bharat Reddy, Vijayakumar, Chaibisket Suhas
Written and Directed by: Maruthi
Music: SS Thaman
Cinematography: Jaikumar Sampath
Producer: Bunny Vas
Banner: GA2 Arts
Format Watched: Hotstar
Released on December 20th 2019, Sai Tej's Prathi Roju Pandage went onto become a blockbuster collecting 35 crores share at the box office. Released on Hotstar and online on Feb 3rd, I decided to check out if the family drama was worth all the hype and success. Let's find out in this review.
Plot: A dying grandfather named Raghuram (Sathyaraj) wants to celebrate his last days by spending time with his children. His grandson Sai (Sai Dharam Tej) is the first one to embrace the idea, but Raghuram's kids seem indifferent to his condition. What happens after forms the rest of the story.
Performances: Sai Dharam Tej is natural and doesn't try too hard. He is fine in his role. The characterization is definitely accurate depicting an NRI in America caring about his family and values unlike most movies that feature NRI heros.
Raashi Khanna borderlines bubbly yet irritating. She's strictly ok and brings the necessary glamour to the movie. However, her expressions while delivering dialogues were very good.
This film belongs to the veterans in Sathyaraj and Rao Ramesh.
After a long gap, Sathyaraj garu gets a meaningful role post Baahubali and is simply amazing as the ailing father longing for his kids to appreciate his existence. He is so good that you sometimes cry just by seeing his reactions to certain situations or his conditions. The entire emotional connect is driven through his character. He clearly had a lot of fun in the role and it shows. He emcompasses pain, laughter, cheer, and shyness all with superb skill. After all, he is a yesteryear superstar in Tamil cinema and he's a world class actor to begin with. He is simply sensational throughout the film.
Next up, we have the ever versatile and likable Rao Ramesh garu. Since Brahmotsavam, he has emerged as one of the best, if not the character actor in TFI and this movie shows his range once again. He is simply world class in his role as Sathyaraj's son. The way he shows his frustration towards what's going around him is superb and all his dialogues in the movie are hilarious. If Sathyraj is the emotional connect, then Rao Ramesh takes care of the comedy department. These two aline carry the entire movie pretty much.
Srikanth Iyengar as Sai's uncle is extremely irritating throughout the movie.
The rest of the cast are basically wasted and appear like caricatures with zero emotions or any empathy. While that's the point of the film, the manner in which they're portrayed is terribly executed.
Lastly, Ajay and Satyam Rajesh play villains who are called the "Sync Brothers" because they're always in sync for dialogues and mannerisms. They're clowns and exude 0 villany throughout.
Direction: This is Maruthi's next movie after Sailaja Reddy Alludu. The filmmaker has carved a niche for himself in TFI by trying to make unique stories with entertainment weaved throughout. However since Bhale Bhale Magadivoy, he has been struggling to deliver a good film since then with only Mahanubhavudu being decent. The same goes for Prathi Roju Pandage. I don't know what inspired Maruthi after seeing Shatamanam Bhavati but it's as if he was so enamored by it, he said he wants to make his own version of it. And that's precisely what this movie is. Instead of having its own identity, it feels like a sequel to Shatamanam Bhavati with a different cast. The screenplay should have been much better but instead what we get is an entertaining first half and an incredibly stupid 2nd half filled with pointless scenes and an expected preachy climax. He shows his skill in some emotional moments that work here and there and some genuinely funny moments. But unfortunately all of these dry up by the interval. Another thread involving Murali Sharma is horrendously executed and keeps recurring for no reason. Add to the cringeworthy and patience testing romantic track and the film struggles to stay afloat. by the end of the movie, you'll be asking yourself did you just watch a family entertainer or a sequel to Shatamanam Bhavati. Depending on your preference or you current age, that will dictate your overall liking of the film. Overall, Maruthi does a below average job and the movie doesn't have enough in it to be a satisfying watch. Besides extracting superb performances from Sathyaraj and Rao Ramesh, there's nothing he does to make this family entertainer rise to another level and makes for a strictly OK viewing.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by Thaman is fantastic. He's in the form of his life and all the songs look good on screen and the background score is soothing to listen to. Cinematography by Jaikumar Sampath is outstanding. The lush green visuals of Rajahmundry are beautifully captured by the cameraman and the movie overall has a very colorful feel to it that's pleasing to the eyes. Editing by Kotagiri is not good. The 2nd half is filled with so many pointless scenes that could have easily been chopped off. Dialogues by Maruthi are good. Production Design is phenomenal. All the sets and locations the movie has been shot in are rich and grand. Some emotional dialogues and most of Rao Ramesh's dialogues register and deliver laughs. Costumes are good. Fights by Venkat are good. The way they're filmed and choreographed are good. Lastly, Production Values by Bunny Vas and GA2 banner are extravagant. The movie overall has a very rich look and feel and the money spent clearly shows. Despite the content, the visuals are outstanding.
+ Rao Ramesh
+ 1st half
- Routine and Predictable Story
- Pointless and Senseless 2nd half
- Useless supporting cast
- Murali Sharma track
- Ridiculous Romantic track
- Shatamanam Bhavati vibe
Final Take and Analysis: There were a lot of expectations given the combination of Sai Dharam Tej and Maruthi as the actor is known for his energy and decent performances while Maurthi on the right given day can churn out a solid entertainer. So naturally we expected sparks to fly. They do here and there, but overall the fire doesn't have enough sparks to keep going. That's the best way to sum up Prathi Roju Pandage. Simply put, the movie feels underwhelming in the end.
While the trailers pretty much tell you the story, you're still intrigued to watch the movie just cause it's a family film. And unlike many movies using the same tag, it is actually very family friendly. The 1st half is solid and moves like a breeze with solid emotional scenes and some good comedy. By the interval, you already know what to expect.
The 2nd half is where all the problems begin as the family drama and attempts to get at Sathyaraj's wealth are incredibly stupid and test your patience to the limit. The film really never gets back on track and it pretty much derails the entire film with a preachy climax and unbelievable pre climax sequences.
The only person with any morals and values in the movie is probably Sai Dharam Tej. His character actually makes you understand the value of the people in your life.
The message is definitely a good one but by the time it gets to you, you've already had enough. Also if Rao Ramesh or Sathyaraj is not in a scene, you're bound to have your patience tested.
And any scene with Srikanth Iyengar. After appearances in Bro Che and Dear Comrade, the actor is just unbelievably annoying his performance and dialogues.
As mentioned before, it doesn't seem like a film that has its own identity. It feels like a sequel to Shatamanam Bhavati.
Overall, Prathi Roju Pandage is a strictly Ok movie. An entertaining and engaging first half is cancelled out by a pointless and insipid 2nd half. Boomers and old people will definitely like it for it's message, but for the rest the choice is yours whether you want to watch it. How much you like it will depend on how much you liked Shatamanam Bhavati.