Prathi Roju Pandaage Movie Review: Fine performances elevate this fun ride

Set in Rajamahendravaram, Prathi Roju Pandaage stars Sathyaraj as Raghu Ramayya, a terminally-ill septuagenarian, who has only five weeks to live. The narrative jumps directly into the scene where the elderly man finds out that he is diagnosed with lung cancer. He informs his three sons and daughter who live abroad and to his surprise, they decide to visit him in the last two weeks of his life. Even though he pines for them, he never expresses how he feels as he knows that they hardly take time out to be with him. His grandson Sai (Sai Tej) rushes home to see him and does all he can to fulfil his grandfather's last wishes.

Cast: Sai Tej, Raashi Khanna, Sathyaraj, Rao Ramesh
Direction: Maruthi Dasari

Contrary to his quirky entertainers in the past, director Maruthi brings in a sort of realism to this story and has conceived characters that lend weight and importance to the sequences that follow. The film explains complex family dynamics without getting preachy. The first hour goes by briskly, and you’ll find yourself smiling along. Rao Ramesh (who plays Raghu Ramayya's eldest son), in particular, displays his endearing eccentricity and steals the show. He delivers his lines spontaneously and naturally. His moments with Sathyaraj and Sai Tej are well written and the director plays it up with quiet and touching sensitivity. Their relationship feels real.

The second hour is inconsistent and filmy, but never dull. Despite its shortcomings, Prathi Roju Pandaage is engaging till its end because it’s such a dramatic story that manages to avoid excessive melodrama and a heavy dose of sentiment — the commercial trappings that most films of this genre invariably fall into. There are several surprising moments as well, like Rao Ramesh, waiting for his dad to die, asking him seriously, “You don’t miss your timing, right? Why haven’t you died yet, dad?”

Prathi Roju Pandaage is so entirely honest that we can overlook many of its flaws. We are moved by the tender moments between Raghu Ramayya and Sai. We are also stung by the sense of loneliness in Raghu Ramayya’s eyes even after he sees his children return home. The writing reveals the personalities of the characters and propels the narrative forward without many sub-plots.

Sai Tej delivers the kind of performance you'd expect from him. Equally impressive is Raashi Khanna as TikTok celebrity Arna. Together, they make quite an impression with their sparkling chemistry and earnest portrayals. However, the real star of Prathi Roju Pandaage is Rao Ramesh, who delivers one of the year's best performances. He brings layers to his character, revealing a simmering frustration beneath that cheerful yet satirical exterior. Sathyaraj is good and looks comfortable in the old man's part.

Technically, the film comes with a striking visual palette. The cinematography of Jayakumar is top-notch and the makers have captured some of the best scenic locales of the Godavari delta. SS Thaman's background score and songs are the strength of this film and make this celebration far more memorable. The title song and O Baava are well choreographed and they mesh into the narrative seamlessly.

Prathi Roju Pandaage works because it’s not moralistic and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a story that says every day is a celebration. It’s not a great film by any standards but it’s well-intentioned and Maruthi goes about his job with sincerity. I think that’s enough for the audience to spend their wintry evening watching this family entertainer.

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