Guntur Kaaram review: Mahesh Babu is the saving grace of this bland film - Hindustan Times

Guntur Kaaram review: Mahesh Babu is the saving grace of this bland film with nothing new to offer

ByNeeshita Nyayapati
Jan 12, 2024 02:43 PM IST

Guntur Kaaram review: Trivikram Srinivas’ Mahesh Babu and Sreeleela-starrer seems a perfect fit for Sankranthi, only on paper.

Trivikram Srinivas’ third film with Mahesh Babu after Athadu and Khaleja has to be his weakest. Guntur Kaaram, which also stars Sreeleela in the lead with Prakash Raj, Ramya Krishnan, Jayaram, Meenakshi Chaudhary, Murli Sharma, Vennela Kishore and others in key roles struggles to hold your attention for its 2 hours and 39 minutes long duration. Which is a shame because it had a solid story to back it up. (Also Read: Meenakshi Chaudhary on her Guntur Kaaram co-star Mahesh Babu: ‘Couldn’t take my eyes off him’)

Mahesh Babu keeps Guntur Kaaram afloat even when it falters
Mahesh Babu keeps Guntur Kaaram afloat even when it falters

Guntur Kaaram story

For most of his life, Ramana (Mahesh) has grown away from his mother Vyra Vasundhara (Ramya). The once momma’s boy is now known as Guntur Kaaram or Rowdy Ramana, depending on whom you ask. It’s not that he doesn’t have love, he has ample of it from his father, Royal Satyam (Jayaram), uncle (Raghubabu), aunt (Eswari Rao) and cousin (Meenakshi). But he wants the love of the one person he’s estranged from, his mother. His grandfather Venkataswamy (Prakash) is a renowned politician with his mom and stepbrother (Rahul Ravindran) taking over the reigns. But what happens when Ramana is constantly egged by his estranged family for political gain?

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Guntur Kaaram review

A new era has dawned over Indian cinema. Filmmakers seem to have a newfound fascination for dwelling on love stories between friends (RRR, Salaar) and now parents (Animal, Hi Nanna, Guntur Kaaram). Sure, all these films differ in treatment and how the stories play out, but it’s starting to feel like an overdose of mommy-daddy-friend issues. Surely our male leads can have other ways to express their angst? The makers of Guntur Kaaram held the cards close to their chests, and no one knew what the film was about until they walked into the theatre. But this film is anything but what you’d expect it to be - a mindless commercial potboiler. That’s not to say Trivikram puts in enough effort to make this a tear-jerker.

What works

Mahesh plays Ramana with an ease and swag that’s hard to come by. He’s smoking beedis, lighting them up stylishly, all his dialogues are loaded with sarcasm and some of them make you chuckle at the sheer audacity of it all. He’s self-aware and calling out his family left and right for their flaws…you get the drift. Mahesh is the only reason this film, that’s anything but spicy, remotely works.

You can see the actor fights with all his might and swims against the tide to make this film work, but is that enough? A funny scene featuring Ramana sees him drunk, trying his best to understand why he’s where he is, who has hatched a plot to kill him, and where the story is heading - that’s how you, as an audience, feel after a point in the film. The cinematography by Manoj Paramahamsa also tries to inject life into the proceedings, but style over substance works only to an extent.

What doesn’t work

Guntur Kaaram can be best described as a film filled with scenes that overstay their welcome, others that don’t dwell on emotions enough and get cut abruptly, or worse, serve as fillers. Even before you feel invested in Ramana’s predicament or understand why his mother would abandon him, Trivikram will undercut it with something nonsensical. There are very few scenes in the film where Mahesh’s character can breathe, soak it all in and truly express his feelings.

Stale jokes and outdated fight scenes don’t help, nor does Thaman’s background score, which sometimes overpowers the dialogue. The film gives you deja vu to Trivikram’s previous work like Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo or Attarintiki Daredi, but could’ve still worked had he focused. The power dynamics are nothing new and the caste angle feels like empty posturing. Instead, you are just delivered a plethora of villains for Ramana to fight when his own grandfather is bad enough.

Mahesh Babu and Sreeleela in the song Oh My Baby
Mahesh Babu and Sreeleela in the song Oh My Baby

The women of Guntur Kaaram

Amukta Malyada aka Ammu (Sreeleela) is Ramana’s love interest. She’s often seen filming Reels or shaking a leg with him, with nothing else to do. While Sreeleela dances like a dream, her character could’ve had some bearing on the story in the least. Meenakshi doesn’t get to do much other than run around her cousin, but she’s decent at what she does. Isn't it time to give these girls better roles?

Since this story hinges on her abandoning her son for 25 long years, Ramya’s character Vyra should’ve also been fleshed out better. And it's frsutrating that it isn't. The film could’ve done with more heart and angst, especially because Ramya is a good performer. Easwari gets a scene or two where she can go all out but she’s shortchanged when it comes to the scenes that matter. Her character does get a fairly decent closure though.

A wasted opportunity

At the end of it all, Guntur Kaaram feels like a wasted opportunity. The film could’ve either been a tearjerker or a commercial masala film, but the way it is now, it just hangs in an unsatisfactory limbo. And that’s a shame because Mahesh gives the film his all. If only Trivikram could break out of the box he seems to have created for himself.

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