‘Paagal’, starring Vishwak Sen in the lead role, hit the cinemas today (August 14). In this section, we are going to review the rom-com.
Prem (Vishwak Sen) is an orphan who wants to find true love in life. The urge has got to do with his late mother (Bhumika Chawla), who was a one-off love guru before cancer killed her. The guy is destined to find true love in Theera (Nivetha Pethuraj), but there is an obstacle in the way.
For Vishwak Sen, ‘Paagal’ is the first proper romantic drama, considering that ‘Ee Nagarainiki Emaindi’ was more a buddy comedy. ‘Falaknuma Das’ was a crime drama, while ‘HIT’ was a mystery action-thriller. The young actor aces many scenes with his ease. He is more convincing in the light-veined moments than in the serious segments.
Nivetha Pethuraj expectedly has a character that comes with a greater emotional arc than her ‘Chitralahari’ character. She should have struck better chemistry with Sen. Simran Choudhary and Megha Lekha fit their parts. Bhumika Chawla has an insignificant part despite the mother-son bonding being integral to the story.
Murali Sharma gets to be entertaining as well as emotional. Rahul Ramakrishna, Mahesh Achanta and others have okayish roles.
Leon James’ background music adds a texture to the emotional love story. Radhan makes the cut with ‘Aagave Nuvvagave’, especially because it is a Sid Sriram rendition. ‘Ee Single Chinnode’ and ‘Saradaga Kasepaina’ are placed well in the scheme of things.
S Manikandan’s cinematography is colourful, while Garry BH’s editing is apt. The film has a run time of 135 minutes.
Love is an emotion. It’s a line that ‘Paagal’ can’t stress enough. Vishwak Sen’s Prem is game for love. He is a compulsive lover. He is seen as a flirt but he is actually trying to find the mother’s love in anyone and everyone. He even woos a male person at the cost of triggering homophobic responses from the audience.
While the premise looks interesting on paper, writer-director Naressh Kuppili’s narration is stunningly inadequate. There are rib-tickling moments in the first half, but there are no heart-touching ones in the crucial second half. Even the twist involving Murali Sharma can be seen coming from miles away.
Nivetha Pethuraj’s Theera gives into Prem’s pleas and attempts to give him memories that he can savour for the rest of his life. The scenes that emerge from this idea are a travesty. They lack a soul and the love story that should have hit home ends up looking ridiculous.
The comedy track involving Rahul Ramakrishna and Vishwak Sen is hilarious. But the one involving Achanta Mahesh and his friends feels like a rip-off of some ‘Jabardasth’ skit. A fatty, dark-skinned woman is subjected to insult comedy just because she wants to have a boyfriend, supposedly in a film that is allegedly about pure love!
Telugu cinema has to rise above petty tropes at least in telling coming-of-age love stories. ‘Paagal’, which weds the motherly love with the idea of love in general, had the opportunity to do so. But it’s content with dishing out low-brow entertainment for some laughs.
When Prem and Theera sob in the climax, we are left asking what on earth they had been up to till then.
‘Paagal’ has got a strong premise. But the narration is too misguided to save the story from seeming frivolous.