'BRO', made as an adaptation of the Tamil film 'Vinodhaya Sitham' (2021), is produced by People Media Factory. In this section, we are going to review the fantasy comedy.
Markandeya aka Mark (Sai Dharam Tej) is an excessively busy, time-conscious corporate employee who doesn't give his family enough time in the name of doing justice to his high-demand profession. He also wants things to be done his way at home. His mother (Rohini) and his sisters pine for his attention that he never gives. On a fateful day, he meets with a fatal accident and is brought dead to the hospital. By a strange decision of the God of Time aka Titan (Pawan Kalyan), he is brought back to life for 90 days so that he can accomplish his unfinished duties. In the process, Mark learns precious lessons as the God of Time decides to be his life coach.
Pawan Kalyan's exuberant acting is enjoyable. He has fun playing an otherwise serious part, much the way Chiranjeevi had fun playing Waltair Veerayya. Trivikram's writing animates his performance and defines its limits (or, rather, the lack of limits). His chemistry with Sai Dharam Tej, who is an extended family member in real life, looks totally non-forced.
After 'Virupaksha', Tej struggles to maintain the momentum. His character has to look clueless and mildly arrogant in turns. The actor doesn't somehow bring this alive. However, he gets to mouth comforting lines in a few family scenes with conviction.
Ketika Sharma looks better in emotional moments than in the glamorous portions. Her screen presence in 'Jaanavule' is not up to the mark. Priya Prakash Varrier, as Mark's sister, looks agitated. Rohini is good. Subbaraju's character is stuck in a time warp.
Vennela Kishore, as Mark's boss, barely elicits laughs. Brahmanandam's cameo is wasted. Ali Reza and Raja Chembolu as Mark's colleague and Mark's to-be family member, respectively, are good. Tanikella Bharani, the artist who played Marks' younger sister and others are okayish.
'My Dear Markandeya' looks low-effort and Urvashi Rautela's cameo appearance doesn't add anything. Thaman's talent comes to the fore with 'Theme of Bro'. The background score is where the fantasy comedy acquires distinctive family drama vibes in the second half. Cinematographer Sujith Vaassudev of 'Khiladi' and 'The Warriorr' fame lacks sheen. The frames lack the kind of polish we expect from big-ticket Telugu movies. AS Prakash's art direction should have been way better. Naveen Nooli's editing is about more than just the run-time (134 minutes).
The film is an adaptation and not a remake only in two aspects: the glamourization of the God of Time, and the last 20 minutes. The screenplay, written by Trivikram, rides the Pawan Kalyan nostalgia wave. On the flip side, it rides the wave too often. The infusion of Power Star's classic songs right from the days of 'Toli Prema' to the recent 'Bheemla Nayak' becomes tedious because director Samuthirakani (who is not a Telugu director with years of exposure to the force of Pawanism) executes the re-enactments in a basic fashion. The 'Gudumba Shankar' recreation, for example, is dull. The brief 'Aaduvaari Matalaku...' (the 'Kushi' song) interlude appears forced and even pointless.
On the bright side, the last 20 minutes is where Trivikram's ideas and story-telling prowess come to the fore. There is an attempt to tell the audience why Mark is a control freak and extremely possessive about how his sisters and brother have to lead their lives. We tend to sympathize with him. There are a handful of well-rounded, sentimental moments for the family audience in the second half.
Had Sai Tej's performance been profound and the dialogue had been immersive, 'BRO' would have been a 3-star movie. The staging, too, is stuck in a certain Kollywoodian grammar. Most Tamil directors create dull frames in the name of realism. 'BRO' suffers from this ideology.
The scenes between Sai Tej and Pawan sound repetitive because stagnancy creeps into their equation during the early portions of the second half. Mark becomes a question bank. Titan's answers and repartees lack the quality to provoke the viewer's thinking beyond a point. It falls upon Power Star's swag and charisma to do the heavy lifting.
'BRO' is different from 'Gopala Gopala', which had a layman raising atheistic questions for social good. It's about a troubled individual and that's where the story acquires intimacy. Had the film relayed absorbing situations and relied more on substantial dialogue instead of style, it would have been great.