'Bedurulanka 2012', produced by Ravindra Benerjee Muppaneni of Loukya Entertainments, was released in theatres today (August 25).
The story is set on an isolated island in the Godavari region of Andhra Pradesh. The year is 2012. Everyone in the village is convinced that December 21 is the end date on which the world will disappear following a catastrophe. The myth of the impending Apocalypse is not bought into by one person: Shiva (Kartikeya). Shiva's girlfriend Chitra (Neha Shetty) is forced into marriage by her dominant father (Goparaju Ramana).
Meanwhile, the whole village has been hoodwinked in the name of God by two fake Godmen: Brahmam (Srikanth Iyengar) and Daniel ('Auto' Ram Prasad). They and their handler Bedurulanka Chiranjeevi (Ajay Ghosh) loot the village in the name of averting Yugantham.
How the rom-com track and the loot by the religious preachers intersect is the crux of the story.
Kartikeya's career has been bleak in the past few years. About two years after 'Raja Vikramarka', the 'RX 100' actor returns in a leading role. He is watchable, although it would have been great had there been more rhythm and nervous energy to his demeanour. He comes into his own in the pre-climax phase and entertains till the climax.
Neha Sshetty of 'DJ Tillu' fame is good in the role of a meek village girl. One would have loved to watch more of her in the third act, though.
The film doesn't always depend on the lead cast. It rather takes resort to its primary comedians. Ajay Ghosh looks wicked in the role of a mentor to evil godmen. Between Srikanth Iyengar and 'Auto' Ram Prasad, the former is better in terms of looking comical and jittery at once. Goparaju Ramana, as a self-important village head who always brags about his ancestors, is good. LB Sriram plays a stock character, delivering thoughtful lines in a deliberately unenergetic way. Satya's intro scene is funny, but his character fizzles out as the second half progresses. Raj Kumar Kasireddy is seen as Bedurulanka Chiranjeevi's frustrated son suffering from low self-esteem and super-high libido.
Vennela Kishore is a comedian we would have loved to see more of. He is funny as a news reader presenting staged 'news' about the disappearance of the world, one continent at a time. 'Get-Up' Srinu, who dramatizes the rumoured end of the world through his TV channel, has been under-utilized.
Mani Sharma's background score was expected to be inventive. It works but there is nothing more that can be said about it. The song 'Vennello Aadapilla' sounds familiar. 'Solluda Siva' works because of the dance choreography and the picturization. The songs in the second half should have been better to match the oddball nature of the scenes.
The cinematographers (Sai Prakash Ummadisingu, Sunny Kurapati) show talent, while production designer Sudheer Macharla could have ensured a distinctive vibe to the village. Editor Viplav Nyshadam keeps the proceedings tight where it was possible. The fights by Anji and Prithvi Raj are basic.
What do you expect from a comedy entertainer based on the mythical concept of Yugantham? Clowns and frauds being taught a lesson, a redemption arc, honest confessions by one or more character(s), an understanding of the human psyche that seeks no-holds-barred fun in anticipation of wholesale destruction of the world, so on and so forth. Debutant director Clax includes all these elements. And he makes the deception of fraudulent religious preachers the central plot of the film. By casting two comedy artists for the roles, he lets the film acquire a funny tone.
Purely in terms of the fun quotient, the second half is better. Even here, it is the portions (roughly from the time Satya's character is introduced) that come after 20 minutes that really matter. The characterization-based comedy works in some stretches more than others.
The mythologization of Veera Brahmam's clairvoyant predictions from centuries ago has been pressed into action to deliver drama. At the same time, a madcap tone has been lent to the film to ensure entertainment.
The film would have worked better had the mob mentality been understood in a better way. Why don't the villagers do something urgent and precise when Shiva publicly resists the fake Godmen? This film understands the psyche of the average human being in an elementary, cartoonish manner. The stretch where the people in the village confess their sins is simplistic. If it works, it is only because of the mood.
The rom-com track is another area where the film needed to generate more believability. It is made to look as if only Shiva and Chitra are wise enough in the village to see through the deceptive games of the Brahmam-Daniel duo. At least the heroine could have been shown to be genuinely fearing something untoward.
Madcap comedy and eccentric situations are the film's big assets. The dialogues don't hit hard all the time. Some portions are sluggish but, on the whole, 'Bedurulanka 2012' works because of its smart casting (mainly the comedians).