Those of us who have been lamenting that we haven't been taking down enough notes and lessons from cinema in the neighboring states could now sit back relaxed. Pokkiri Raja is like a fusion of Tamil and Telugu cinema, but sadly of the 80's, when they used to tell tales of brothers being estranged at birth and meeting head to head a good twenty years later.
What astonishes me is the squandering of talent in a film as this that is unpardonable. You have two of the best actors in business, a whopping supporting cast, a sizzler actress as the female lead, an amazing technical crew, and what not? And you go ahead and tell a story that resembles sugarcane pulp, beaten to death and with all the sap squeezed out to the last drop.
There are two apparently warring families in some godforsaken village where there is a huge furor every time the temple festival comes up. Raja, (Mammotty) the eldest of the two sons of the village teacher (Nedumudi Venu) gets involved in one such ruckus and flees never to return. The younger son Surya (Prithviraj) meanwhile keeps missing his brother like hell (he even sings a couple of lines about good ol' bro while shaking a leg with Shwetha Menon) when he is not chasing the City Commissioner's daughter Aswathy (Shreya). They meet of course. Just don't ask me where and how.
It's a daunting task to do an analysis of a film as this, for where does one start? Ah yes! The script of course. How many times more would we be made to sit through this story, the exact setting, the Xeroxed characters and the very same everything else? How many more times would we see the eldest son sacrificing everything and ending up a thug? How many more times would we be able to endure familial feuds?
The dialogues are what actually take the cake. So we have Raja making a loud proclamation to Surya that its just not enough that he builds up muscles; he needs to learn to act as well. An ever so obedient and humble Surya retorts that he's just a kid, and that by the time he grows up to be his brother's age, he would win an Oscar and nothing less.
When Surya takes a good hard look at Raja's traditional attire before hopping on to a dance club, Raja roars and asks if he has to take style lessons from the young chap. And of course we have Raja's sidekicks firmly asserting that his fans would take no insult lying down; be it from his younger brother or someone else.
The film that lasts for about two and a half hours remains focused on Surya for the first hour, when he gets to deliver all that he can, pack the punches, sing a song and finally get entrapped in a no-way-out spot. Along comes Raja with about a fifty cars following him, like they have just stepped out of a car showroom for a test drive. Raja shoves the kid to a corner and takes up the reigns, and believe it or not, it rains.
Mammootty saves this film from not being a total washout with his amazing screen presence. Which is to say, that the first one hour without him is the toughest to endure. Prithvi looks well-groomed, but I doubt if this film would do anything worthwhile for his surging career. Shreya is gorgeous of course, but all she has to do is to look bewildered at the brothers in action, and that she does.
After watching two brothers who have had to tackle with the twists of fate for God-alone-knows-what time, I just have one question to ask. Is it too much to ask for a simple, good story in films?