Rating: 4.5/10 (Bland Template Film)
Cast: Sai Dharam Tej, Rakul Preet Singh, Jagapati Babu, Thakur Anoop Singh, Vennela Kishore, Raghubabu, Mukesh Rishi, Kalyani, Hariteja, 30 Years Industry Prudhvi, Ali, Suresh, Bithri Sathi
Screenplay-Direction: Gopichand Malineli
Banner: Lakshmi Narasimha Productions
Producers: Nallamalupu Bujji and Tagore Madhu
Sai Dharam Tej faced a setback with Thikka last August. Can he and template specialist Gopichand Malineli put him back on track. Is this movie a Winner? Sadly not. Let's find out why.
Plot: A young boy named Siddharth (Sai Dharam Tej) runs away from his house at a young age and grows up despising horses and fathers, as those are the two things that ruined his childhood.
He falls in love with and stalks Sithara (Rakul Preet), an aspiring track athlete. Situations arise where Siddharth's past comes back to him and he has to find against the odds and proves that he is the real Winner.
Performances: Sai Dharam Tej does a sincere job as Siddarth and delivers a confident performance. He's energetic and lively and tries to carry the movie on his shoulders but it's too weak for him to pull off by himself.
Rakul Preet is absolutely ravishing but anyone could clearly deduce that the director purposely put her in short clothes and revealing outfits to attract the youth and accentuate her stunning physique. Performance wise, Sithara is the regular Telugu movie heroine and nothing special.
Jagapati Babu is easily the best actor in the movie as he provides all the tear jerking moments. The way he longs for his son is truly endearing to watch and he truly makes you sympathize with him. He is superb.
Mukesh Rishi has the most awkward role of his career and it's another two faced one at that.
Vennela Kishore is hilarious as Padma. He is one of the reasons the movie doesn't fall completely flat.
Prudhvi with his Singam spoof is silly and has no meat to it. It's getting tiresome to see him spew the same old spoofs and dialogues since 2015. Ali is decent as Horseman Babu in the 2nd half.
Thakur Anoop Singh lacks the zing needed for a strong villain. The rest of the cast is adequate.
Technicalities: Music and BGM by Thaman is decent. The songs however are not picturized well. Dialogues by Abburi Ravi are decent but the dialogues for Sai Dharam's introduction about Mega power is too much and nonsensical. Story by Veligonda Srinivas has promise but ends up being routine. Cinematography by Chota K Naidu is excellent and he is easily the best technician in the film. Editing by Gautam Raju is ok as the movie is a bit long. Art by AS Prakash is good. Choreography is not upto the mark and is very disappointing. Production Values by Lakshmi Narasimha Productions are extravagant and grand. The money spent on the film reflects in the visuals and taking.
Analysis: Winner is another routine commercial template film. Winner is also an example of a film that sounds good on paper but the execution misfired. On paper, the story of a kid running away and then having to prove himself again to his father sounds good and endearing. But the way in which it was executed is what lets it down.
Barring a couple of comedy scenes here and there, Winner doesn't have any decent content to excite you or root for the film. It's all a been there, seen that type of scenario.
The 1st half opens with heart touching sentiment between Jagapathi Babu and Sai Dharam Tej when he was young (special mention to Sudheer Babu's son). But the main point of a grandfather trying to separate the father from his grandson is over the top and farcical. There are some bad grandfathers out there but I don't think they would ever be this cruel to separate a 10 year kid whose world is his father. Sai Dharam Tej then grows up and is shown working twice in the movie at his job and the rest of the time he is stalking Sithara with intent. The subplot with Prudhvi's Singam Sujatha we have seen a zillion times. The interval bang has a small twist but you could see it coming.
The 2nd half runs on predictable lines and has no muscle. It's ironic that the film is titled Winner as it has no scenes to win the audience over or make them root for the hero. The director couldn't get the crucial portions of the film right such as the climax.
If the movie had better comedy and entertainment value and a different core conflict point, Winner would have been a much better film.
Overall, Winner is another bland commercial template film that has no memorable scenes. Sai Dharam Tej and Jagapthi Babu's performances are the only saving grace for the movie. Watch it at your own will.