Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Beginnings Of Bunny - Gangotri (Telugu, 2003)


Gangotri is Bunny´s first film as a Hero. It is so obviosly his first movie that if I would have seen the movie in the theater back in 2003 I would never have believed, that this:

would turn into this:

The fierceness! The muscles! The hair! Oh my..
Really, it´s like two different persons!
Also, Gangotri is not a really good film. Sadly to say, mainly because of Bunny´s performance. While Prakash Raj does his usual "loving-father-gone-crazy-once-the-daughter-falls-in-love-with-another-man"-thing, and the heroine (Aditi Agarwal) is, well, a Heroine, what with all the whining, obeying the men around her and not being able to do anything on her own (literally! Bunny once even washes her feet), Bunny is NOT A HERO AT ALL. 
Maybe it was too early for him to start acting in movies yet, he was, after all, only around 20 years old at the time of the release, but although we see glimpses of his later, glorious self, these are really rare moments and soon forgotten after seeing his overall performance.

The story is also not one of the best and actually one big WTF!? but after seeing so many Telugu movies now, I have really grown used to it: Prakash Raj plays Neelakanta Naidu, a big factionist.  After a gap of many years, his wife gives birth to a baby daughter, Gangotri.

Baby Gangotri
Every one is happy but, alas, we are in a Telugu movie after all: Apparently Gangotri is born under a very unfortunate constellation of stars or planets or whatever, I didn´t quite get it, maybe all together, but because of this she will die an untimely death through water.
Of course, every one is heartbroken but never despair, there is help offered by a nearby astrologist/priest. To prevent Gangotri´s death she has to be brought every year to the holy place of Gangotri which lies in North India, which gives us space later in the film for some very unfunny jokes about Northern Indians.  After 15 years, Gangotri would be free of any dangers. (Except dying by sickness, a car accident or a machete, of course).

The Holy place of Gangotri
Prakash Raj has also a confidant/servant called Narasimha, who between slaughtering Neelakantha´s enemies to pieces, is also father to Simhadri, a boy with an unusual beautiful voice. Simhadri and Gangotri become friends and Simhadri has to help Gangotri in a lot of different situations which at some point leads to a very funny song:

I couldn´t find the song on its own, so you have to ffw to 3:15 and 
no, you are not having hallucinations: it`s really Bunny as a girl.

After some drama, including Simhadri´s Ma sacrificing her life for Neelankatha, Gangotri comes of age, which means she gets her first period, so no more roaming around with Simhadri because,
you know, she could get pregnant by holding hands or something. Nevertheless, Gangotri and Simhadri realize that they fell in love. This can not be, of course, so much more drama arises. Meantime, Narasimha comes to the spot and interferes. This causes a rift between Neelakantam and Narasimha and after a misunderstanding Neelakantha bombs the house of Narasimha in typical impulsive and rash Telugu-Dad behaviour. When Simhadri comes to know that Neelakantha is responsible for the bombing, he comes to Neelakantha's house and challenges that he would marry Gangotri in 365 days. Hearing this, Neelakantha throws Simhadri out of the the village leading Simhadri to go to Gangotri, the place, for exile and Gangotri, the girl, starving herself. What will happen next you ask, understandably, and I know this all sounds really entertaining and like a lot of fun, but believe me it´s not.

The performances are really not much to speak about, Prakash Raj is the only one who can be said to be really acting, the others are not much to be spoken about. Allu Arjun is cute, but does nothing special that´s worthy to be mentioned, even his most famous (and best) trait, namely his dancing, is really bad compared to today. But that´s understandable, it´s his first movie, but still, compared to some other debuts I´m really wondering who thought at that point of time that Bunny could be a hero?

Besides, Bunny and his love interest, Aditi Agarwal, have zero chemistry, which is not good, considering this movie is more romance than any other Telugu movie I have seen. Not only can Aditi not act, she is also much too old looking, not only for her part (she is supposed to be not older than 15 after all), but also much older than Allu arjun. (Although she isn´t, I just checked her Wikipedia-entry and she is more or less exactly one year younger to him).

Supposedly 15 years old as Gangotri
This doesn´t necessarily have to be her fault but the costume designer´s or make-up artist´s or even Bunny´s who is himself looking much younger than he really was and I know that most of the Heroines are playing younger roles than they really are, but nevertheless, Aditi just couldn´t pull it off.

There are some supporting actors, Brahmanandam of course and Sunil who has a love interest you never would have thought of, some actress playing Neelakantha´s evil sister who is responsibe for a lot of the trouble and drama in the film, Simhadri´s parents. They are all okay, not bad but nothing outstanding.

The songs... well, the songs. What sometimes is the best part of an Indian movie, is here merely okay with some really bad exceptions. Interestingly the sngs in the second half are much better than the ones in the first, but, really, as sad as it is, nothing special and as they say, at least here in Germany, in one ear and out the other.

The film also has a strong spiritual/religious angle, after all, every one is referring to Gangotri as Ganga, which is the Indian synonym for the holy Indian river Ganges, which leads to some extensive metaphorical love lyrics about Ganga, the girl/Ganga, the river. Also, interestingly, there is a patriotic song in the beginning which I have never seen in a Telugu film before (or maybe just didn´t notice...?).
Anyway, the whole movie reminded me much more of a Hindi than a Telugu one, with the concentrating on religion, the (somewhat) subdued violence, the extensive romance scenes and even the songs reminded me much more of a Hindi movie.

Overall, spare your money, unless you are a die-hard-fan of Bunny (like me) and have the unexplicable desire to see all of his movies, even the bad ones, because this movie really has nothing you wouldn´t wanna miss. For the leave and to lift your spirits after this somewhat negative review, here is something to cheer you up:

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