Pratiroju Pandaage

Story: Raghu Ramayya (Satyaraj) is a man with limited time to live. His children, who all live elsewhere, struggle to schedule their time around his death. But what happens when his grandson Sai (Sai Dharam Tej) takes it upon himself to give his grandfather the farewell he deserves?

Review: With Prati Roju Pandaage, Maruthi tries hard to deliver a tale that shows how parents feel when they’re nearing the end of days and their children have no time for them. He also tries to show the intricacies of the bond a father shares with his children. But it’s clear from the get-go that this is Raghu Ramayya’s (Satyaraj) story above all. And unfortunately for Sai Dharam Tej, he gets massively overshadowed by the likes of Rao Ramesh and Murali Sharma.

When Raghu Ramayya is nearing the end of days, his three sons and one daughter manage to set aside two weeks for him. His grandson Sai (Sai Dharam Tej) however decides to help him celebrate life before his impending death and maybe even bring the whole family together, so his grandfather dies a happy man surrounded by loved ones. He’s so hell-bent on it that he even helps him meet his old flame, reconcile with his best friend and even gets ready to marry the girl of his choice.

Thrown into the mix are Rao Ramesh, as the eldest son who has a business deal he needs to close, Murli Sharma as the client he’s trying to woo, Ajay and Satyam Rajesh as Sync Brothers, whose only function in the tale is to appear on-screen and get beaten up by a buff Sai Dharam Tej in two random scenes, a trusty sidekick played by Suhas and most importantly, Aarna (Raashi Khanna), the TikTok queen who believes Sai is a fan who came to meet her in Rajahmundry all the way from the US.

Maruthi even manages to get the tone of the film right at first. Despite the cliché route the story takes, with absolutely no surprises, tears and false death proclamations galore, the director manages to make the first half work. It is replete with dark humour and the jokes somehow seem to land most of the time. Rao Ramesh delivers his lines with such ease, it’s hard not to laugh along. The film however suffers from the ‘second half syndrome’ where things go downhill and get so jarringly repetitive, it’s hard not to notice. There’s a long, overdrawn joke about each child of Ramayya describing to him how his funeral plans are being made, complete with live samples and tacky to begin with, it gets too much after a while. The fact that most of the actors in this film (including Sai Dharam Tej) have nothing much to do also begins to get clear.

Satyaraj, Rao Ramesh, Murli Sharma, Hari Teja and Raashi Khanna, even in the limited role, hit the ball out of the park. While Satyaraj does tend to get a little melodramatic at times, it’s hard not to feel for him and his character. Sai Dharam Tej, despite being set up as the hero in the first half, takes a complete backseat even with the way his character progresses. While cinematic liberties are constantly employed, when a person diagnosed with lung cancer begins cycling and playing cricket, you know it’s too much to handle. By the time the climax and Sai Dharam Tej’s soliloquy rolls around, you’re just waiting for what you know is to follow next, the happy ending. Also, that ‘twist’ before the climax is not one bit convincing.

Don’t get us wrong because Prati Roju Pandaage has ample moments that’ll make you smile and relate to the characters, if not anything else. But this film could’ve definitely done with a little bit of finesse, not to mention subtlety.

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