'Prathi Roju Pandage' review; A fun ride

Express News Service

Set in Rajamahendravaram, Prathi Roju Pandage stars Sathyaraj as Raghu Ramayya, a terminally-ill septuagenarian, who has only five weeks to live. The narrative begins without much ado jumping directly into the scene where the elderly man finds out that he is diagnosed with lung cancer. He informs his children (three sons and a daughter) about his condition. But they are not too keen to visit saying they can come only in the last two weeks. Though Ramayya pines for them, he never expresses how he feels. His grandson Sai (Sai Tej) rushes home to see him and does all he can to fulfil his grandfather’s last wishes.  

Contrary to his quirky entertainers like Bhale Bhale Magadivoy, Babu Bangaram and Shailaja Reddy Alludu, director Maruthi Dasari 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 and without getting preachy. The first hour goes by briskly, and you’ll find yourself smiling along.

Especially, Rao Ramesh (played Sathya Raj’s eldest son), displays his endearing eccentricity and steals the show from the rest of the cast. He delivers his lines spontaneously and naturally. His scenes with Sathya Raj and Sai Tej are well written and the director plays it up with quiet and touching sensitivity. We see realistic elements in their relationship. 

The second hour is typical, inconsistent and filmi, but never dull. Despite its shortcomings, Prathi Roju Pandaage is engaging till its end because it’s 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. Although there are several surprising moments like Rao Ramesh waiting for his dad to die and asks him seriously, “You don’t miss your timing, right? Why haven’t you died yet, dad?”, the performances and humour keep us hooked. In terms of production values, Prathi Roju Pandage comes off looking like one of those shot in your village.

The film so entirely honest that you are willing to overlook many of its flaws. You are moved by the tender moments between Raghu Ramayya and Sai. You are also stung by the sense of loneliness that you witness in Raghu Ramayya’s eyes even after he sees his children return home. The dialogues are everyday fare. It reveals the personalities of the characters and propels the narrative forward without many sub-plots.The film definitely Sai Tej’s canvas and he delivers his standard chops with flamboyance. Equally impressive is Raashi Khanna as Tik Tok celebrity Arna. Together, the leave an impression with their sparkling chemistry and earnest performances. 

The real star of Prathi Roju Pandage, however, is Rao Ramesh, who delivers a performance that could well be one of his best this year. He brings layers to his character, revealing a simmering frustration beneath that cheerful yet satirical exterior. Sathya Raj is good and looked comfortable in playing an old man who accepts his illness with grace. 

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. The title song – Prathi Roju Pandage and O Baava are well choreographed and they mesh into the narrative seamlessly. 

The film works because it’s not moralistic and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a film that tells every day is a celebration. Although it’s not a masterpiece  by any standards, it is well-intended 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. 

Film: Prathi Roju Pandage

Director: Maruthi Dasari

Cast: Sai Dharam Tej, Rashi Khanna, Sathyaraj, Rao Ramesh

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