I’m quite a fan of the Telugu actor Ram. The thing that sets him apart among the pantheon of Telugu actors is that he tends to play “trickster” characters – guys that can fight, but are more likely to try and resolve a situation with an elaborate plan first. I believe this trend of Ram’s started with the extremely charming Ready (seriously, don’t waste your time with the vulgar-seeming Hindi remake, but definitely check out the Telugu original) and it has continued with his four subsequent films. The latest of these is Kandireega, in which the plot twists unfold like a set of nesting dolls opening, so that by the time you get down to the last one you almost can’t remember what you started from.
In Kandireega Ram plays Sreenu, a bit of a village wastrel, who wants to marry his uncle’s daughter. She, however, rejects him because he never finished college. So off he goes to Hyderabad to finish school. However, once there he falls in love at first sight with Shruthi (played by Hansika) and forgets all about his cousin… and school too for that matter. Unfortunately Shruthi has also caught the eye of the gangster Bhavani (played by Sonu Sood) who sends his goons to beat up any man who tries to get near her. Here we get the first of Sreenu’s “tricks” as he manipulates Bhavani into letting him pursue Shruthi unmolested. However, just as Shruthi expresses her love to Sreenu she is kidnapped – and not by Bhavani. In an effort to ensure he ends up married to Shruthi, Sreenu contrives one the aforementioned elaborate plans – basically involving a lot of people pretending to be in love with people they’re not actually in love with – which makes up the second half of the film.
One of the drawbacks of Kandireega is that it, like Ready, is a bit on the long side, clocking in at just under three hours. It also suffers from an affliction that has been affecting many Telugu films lately, which is that instead of having one comedy uncle appear in a comedy track that runs the length of the film, many comedy uncles appear in various disjointed comedy sequences. Also, I didn’t find the end entirely satisfying, and would have preferred to see secondary heroine Sandhya (played by Aksha Pardasany) married to the goon who really loved her, or else have it made really clear that Bhavani was going to pay for his previous misdeeds in his new marriage.
But those are minor complaints. The songs are wacky and exuberant by turns, in that way South Indian movies still do so well. And the elaborate plan in the second half allows Sonu Sood to show his rarely seen goofy side, and even try to dance a little bit. If you’ve never seen a Ram movie I wouldn’t recommend starting with Kandireega (you should start with Ready. Go on. Do it. Do it now.) But if, like me, you are already a fan of Ram and his trickster characters, you will probably get a kick out of it.