It happened one night
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Venkatadri Express is the debut film of director Merlapaaka Gandhi. The movie is a thrill ride for most of its runtime, and it does this effortlessly by staying in the zone of a linear narration. However, in the second half, the director succumbs to some run-on-the-mill moments in a milieu of novelty, which brings the film achingly down. And in the climax, Gandhi does a ‘Bommarillu’ Bhaskar to trickle tear drops.
The film has a simple story and revolves around a night when the hero misses the train and tries umpteen ways to board that. In this process, he meets new characters and continues his journey with them. Like any other movie in this genre, the director saves a twist till the end. The second half has a fair dose of elements which conjure up ennui rather than emotions. As far as the content is concerned there is hardly any emotional upheaval all through the film, but at the end, at the press of a button, the movie slips into an emotional mode.
The defining moments of the film come when Sundeep restrains himself all the time from committing the hundredth mistake. Tagubhotu Ramesh and Saptagiri complement the protagonist to evoke unbridled humor. Sundeep Kishan once again cherry-picks a fine role that unleashes his funny side and provides ample scope for his performance. He is cool as a cocky youngster, and looks a lot real as a spoilt brat. The credit goes to the shallow yet colorful surroundings he is in.
Rakul Preet Singh is drop-dead gorgeous and, though in a limited role, her sizzle-worthy song makes her noteworthy. Nagineedu fires all the cylinders in a venerable role. Barring a few, the other members of the cast get their moments of truth in some finely-etched roles.
The technical departments do their job with near perfection. While the movie’s short runtime is an asset, the train sequences provide ample scope for Chota K Naidu to plunge into some fine frames. Ramana Gogula’s background music is apt for most of the scenes.
While it’s refreshing to see director Merlapaaka Gandhi explore a new format, it’s tiresome to watch him deal with few commercial movie staples. On one end the fight sequences don’t quite seep into the narrative, and on the other the non-palatable comedy track of M S Narayana and Jayaprakash Reddy cause jitters.
Venkatadri Express starts with a gripping narration and towards the end it meanders into a dripping zone. Further, the weight of the climax pulls it down. However, the movie stays faithful to its genre and provides a thrilling experience.
My Rating: Expectation – 5/10; Reality – 6/10