V should have had a theatrical release. Not because it is visual spectacle deserving of the silver screen, but because theatres can be breeding ground for mediocre content. This movie is only slightly above mediocre and hence, might have thrived in the single screen environment. In the OTT landscape where the best of content is available at the touch of a button or a simple voice command, V fails to make a mark.
It starts off with promise. SudeerBabu gets the introductory fight reserved for stars and that in Nani’s 25th movie. It offers a mirage of being a novel attempt but turns out to be a downer. If you have seen enough Telugu movies you know where the plot reveal is headed within the first 10 mins. When a mainstream Telugu star plays an out and out negative character, birds that are not birds will fly (watch the movie and you will get that joke). Sudeer Babu gets a decently written role and he does a good job of it. He is the kind of commercial hero package that Tollywood needs but will never promote. Nivetha plays a variation of the loosu ponnu character and the backstory of an interest in criminal psychology does not do anything to elevate the role.
Aditi Rao Hydari plays the staple flashback heroine role that has been recycled from late 90’s and has not gone out of stock (even though the actresses who pioneered it have graduated to playing mother characters). Tanikella Bharani shouts with overaction and praises with platitudes, thus performing within the stereotypical box of senior police officers. Shrikant Iyengar, RGV’s latest muse, has a blink and you miss role as a garage mechanic, but he stands out with his accurate portrayal of Hyderabad old city slang, not taking it into hyperbole mode like with most movies.
One feels hugely let down by Nani. He had been going well with his choice of movies. One can see why V on paper would have looked tempting but the final product leaves much to be desired. When he is out to kill, Nani’s switches to a mode of dialogue delivery that makes you wonder if you have accidentally turned down the playback speed. It becomes irritating to the ears beyond a point.On top of it, he has got lines that might have worked in a different Nani movie, say Pilla Zamindar. Exhibit A , Heroine: Meeku General Knowledge konchem Ekkuvu vundi( You seem to have good general knowledge). Hero’s response: General ga vundodu, ee roju konchem ekkuvuga na vundi (Generally it is not, today it appears to have been more). That Shakespearean level of wordplay does not go with the character he portrays in the movie.
The overall writing seems lazy. The bit about ‘internal bleeding’ in reference to a combing operation in Kashmir seems to be force fit in tune with the prevalent emotions in the country. Especially since it has no relevance to the plot. This screenplay could have done away with the routine build up dialogues that sing praises to the hero. It looks badly out of place. One gets confused whether to think about the next clue in the thriller or wonder whether the killer is a thopu (a close enough translation would be bigshot). Nani’s interactions with his co-passengers in 2 different scenes follow the exact pattern. While it works the first time, it gives you a deja-vu during the second run-in and not in a good way. The character from Mumbai conveniently speaks Telugu in a suspension of disbelief that is now common with Telugu movies.
Does the movie have flaws? Yes. Can they be overlooked? Hell, No. Not when the novel corona virus bomb is ticking and every moment counts. Getting disappointed with a movie helmed by one of the most promising directors in Tollywood and headlined by the poster boy of entertaining movies, borderlines on a criminal offence.
V is not a patch on any of director Mohan Krishna Indraganti’s earlier work that includes the national award winning Grahanam and the runaway hit Astha Chemma. In fact, Nani’s portrayal of negative shades in Mohan’s earlier movie Gentleman was way better compared to V. There are certain scenes and dialogues where you get a glimpse of Mohan’s talent, like the Viserys Targaryen reference from Game of Thrones but those moments are lost in the overall generic writing.
All one can do is hope for the theatres to reopen so content get compartmentalized and you know where to look for which kind of content. Film makers would then design their content as per the platform and some interesting content can come out as a result of that. One can wonder ,if without the commercial considerations that come with a big star, V could have been made much edgier and darker.