The Telugu sequel banks heavily on Nagarjuna and Naga Chaitanya and barely skims the surface of the supernatural revenge family drama story
The fun part of Bangarraju, the sequel to Soggade Chinni Nayana (2016), lies in what happens when senior Bangarraju’s (Nagarjuna Akkineni) soul enters the body of his grandson Bangarraju (Naga Chaitanya). This is when the junior who has inherited his grandfather’s traits of being a charmer, gets an extra swag and a tad worldly-wise, and does everything with ease — taking on opponents in action sequences or diplomatically settling family frictions. The father-son duo is good to watch in these portions; each time Nagarjuna looks at Chaitanya with pride, the theatre erupts. A usually restrained Chaitanya steps out of his comfort zone and has fun playing a flamboyant character.Bangarraju
- Cast: Nagarjuna, Naga Chaitanya, Ramya Krishna, Krithi Shetty
- Direction: Kalyan Krishna
- Music: Anup Rubens
Bangarraju feels like a throwback to the 1980s and 1990s with its plot of a family revenge drama accentuated by supernatural elements. Senior Bangarraju and his wife Satyabhama (Ramya Krishna), with the consent of Lord Yama, literally move between heaven and earth to help their grandson who is lonely and lost in a large joint family. Nagarjuna and Ramya Krishna bring in their vintage charm to the story and these are cakewalk characters for them. Another thread of the story has to do with the mysterious power in the village’s Shiva temple.
While Soggade Chinni Nayana packed in a lot of fun with Bangarraju teaching his nerdy son Ram (Nagarjuna in a dual role) a thing of two about being a charming husband and saving him from a foe, this story traces younger Bangarraju’s journey through strained familial ties, deceit and revenge.
But Bangarraju doesn’t have the easy, effortless fun of Soggade… And in its bid to keep things fairly happy and entertaining, the story never scratches beneath the surface to explore either the brewing familial discontent or the supernatural element. Take for instance the sequences showing how senior Bangarraju watches over the junior, accompanied by Satyabhama. The junior has no recollection of what transpired after the soul entered his body, but a friend notices his behavioural changes. This thread is never explored enough to add to the drama.
The portrayal of both the Bangarrajus as charmers treads on tricky territory. The senior is shown dancing with the celestial nymphs while the junior has all the parents of daughters in the village up in arms, given his flirtatious ways. In a scene, junior says he doesn’t want a woman to fall for him; he would rather that she takes a liking for him. A statement to underline that he isn’t exploitative. Among the many cameos of women who take a liking to him, Daksha and Faria Abdullah make their presence felt.
A chunk of the story, expectedly, has to do with finding the right woman who can put up with junior Bangarraju and his roving eye, and perhaps mend him. The chosen one is Nagalakshmi (Krithi Shetty), who has stiffly locked horns with him since childhood. Krithi Shetty is charming as Nagalakshmi, a character that’s written like a parody of a wannabe leader who would do anything for social media limelight. But apart from a scene or two, Nagalakshmi’s misadventures as the sarpanch fall flat.
The film also tries to show the other side of Bangarraju when he admits to feeling lonesome and yearns for a better bond with his nerdy father.
All these threads of a family drama, romance and an unexplained supernatural element could have made for an engaging masala potboiler. But the narrative meanders aimlessly between one too many songs. The actual conflict in the form of an old foe surfaces a tad too late and is too little to challenge the Bangarrajus.
There’s a huge supporting cast, out of which only Rao Ramesh, Vennela Kishore, Brahmaji and Jhansi barely get to do anything.
Bangarraju’s climax has a few entertaining masala moments, but the film on the whole ends up as a pale extension of Soggade that entertains in parts.
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