Friday, November 18, 2011

What Straight Hair Does To Me - Munna (Telugu, 2007)

I think it highlights the love I have for this movie by saying that I made no less than 291 screenshots while watching it. Not even so much because it is that pretty or because the camera work is so well done that every second shot is like a beautiful painting, no, it´s for the simple fact that I love Prabhas´ hair in this movie. I know, Prabhas´ hair style in Munna has already started endless dicussions and arguments on whether the person who came up with this hairstyle should be revered as the world´s most brilliant genius or should be banned from ever watching Telugu movies again. Well, I am definitely Team Straight-Hair. I really don´t know what it is but Prabhas´ hairstyle makes me want to do bad things with him...

Oh My...
Okay, enough of that. After all, besides the hair situation, what we have here is a really good movie. For once, it has one of the most coherent plots I have ever seen in a Telugu movie. The story is well-paced, well explained, the characters all behave in very logic ways and consistent to their personalities, there are no unnecessary subplots that do nothing else than distract, the comedy subplot is reduced to a minimum, it´s really highly entertaining in a way where you don´t have to turn your brain off to enjoy it.

The story starts with a boy who is clearly running away from something and who is pretty much disturbed. His name is Munna and he grows up like 6 inches where he is once again introduced to us as Young Rebel Star, Prabhas. Prabhas plays Munna who is your average college student, just taller and better looking than everyone else and who has a friend, Tillu, who suffers from being not that tall and not that handsome. (If you ever had a friend in school who was prettier, cooler or just bettter in everything else than you, you know exactly how he feels). On his own, Tillu isn´t actually that bad a guy but since he and Munna are practically inseperable, Tillu has a hard time to score with the ladies. Munna, being the nice, selfless and considerate friend that he is, tries to help but every girl seems to prefer Munna over Tillu. Which I can totally understand, given the hair, the eyes, the hands(!) but I couldn´t help but feel sorry for Tillu. 

Poor Guy...
He doesn´t stand a chance.
This is where Ileana enters the picture, being the next girl Tillu tries to impress but - alas - she too falls for Munna who after all, who are we kidding here, is the hero and therefore irresistible. Tillu should accept that finally and move on with his life. Munna plays coy first, giving space for some awesome scenes where Ileana gets to be all flirty and seductive in an innocent, playful kind of way. I really liked the picturization of their relationship, where for once it was not the guy who was all persuasive and decisive but the girl. She knew what she wanted and she didn´t shy away from getting it but without being either the seductive, vampy type or the rather shrieky I-Will-Get-You-No-Matter-What kind of heroine.

Ileana is really cute and has some hilarious expressions in stock...
But mostly she´s just pretty.
Although she does have to wear a japanese school uniform once.
Of course, every heroine has to have a bad guy following her and being all jealous and possessive without her having ever committed to any kind of relationship. This guy who wears clothes like he´s been straight out of a 90ies bad musical show happens to be the son of Kakha, played by Prakash Raj, the local Bad Guy who not only has a habit of casually murdering people but who also doesn´t care for the environment because he has a pharmaceutical factory that pollutes the water in the area causing people to have some serious disabilities. Kakha has two serious opponents in his quest of destroying the planet: Srinivasa Rao (Kota Srinivasa Rao), a for once honest politician who tries to get Kakha´s factory closed and Atma (played by Rahul Dev who is no other than Bheema from Asoka!), who wants to take over Kakha´s Don status.

Kakha. Of whom I could make a very infantile poo-joke now but won´t. We want to keep it classy.
Kakha´s son and his clothes. He also seems to be rather unhappy about them because most of the time he runs around with a face like this:
Don´t worry, nameless-actor-of-whom-I´m-too-lazy-right-now-to-look-up-the-name! You´re not the first and last victim of a Costume Designer Gone Crazy! It happens to the best of us.
Bheema Aka Atma. Imagine that spoken with a really deep baritone voice, like "AAtmAAaaa". It´s really cool.
Srinivasa Rao
Alas I must admit that although I saw the movie just a week ago, I don´t know know anymore why exactly Munna starts to work against Kakha. Well, but he does. He becomes something like Ajay Devgan in Yuva, sort of like a student leader and unites the helpless locals and his fellow students against Kakha in order to bring him down. But don´t worry, this is not a boring and dull politics movie! Munna has some personal interest in his desire to bring Kakha down and - I promise - it´s really particularly heartbreaking to see why and how Munna´s and Kakha´s lifes are connected.

The great part about Munna is that the story is so well scripted. Except of the fights everything seems more or less realistic, like this could actually happen in The Real Life and not in some OTT-Fairy-Filmi-World of SI-Superheroes. I will not give the rest of the story away, in case someone hasn´t seen the movie yet but be prepared for some really shocking plot twists and revelations!

A huge part of this overall goodness goes to the actors who deliver pretty well. Prabhas, for some strange reason, is always believable as the strong man who stands up for the poor and helpless masses, so he does his usual thing besides walking a lot and talking through the phone. (That was a general thing with all the characters! They were constantly on the phone talking! I started to ask myself if the film was produced by some phone company or something). Prabhas often gets scolded for his dialogue delivery but I think that he was really good as Munna and his dialogues were, at least for me, totally compelling. Fighting and action is something Prabhas was born for anyway, so he delivers perfectly in this department as well.

Praju talking on the phone....
Prabhas talking on the phone...
Talking to eachother.... on the phone...
 Prabhas being so frustrated about talking on the phone the whole time that he strted to hurt himself.
Prakash Raj has a little more to do here and can show off his acting talent. I liked that Kakha was not your typical SI-Villain who are mostly one dimensional and evil just for the sake of being evil, but that he was given a backstory that showed some of his motivations to... well, being evil. The backstory does nothing to redeem him but it shows him in a more human light which I really appreciated.

Ileana is pretty and has good chemistry with Prabhas, I always like couples who look so completely different physically, Prabhas being this hunky, hairy, lanky type and she so tiny and cute like a doll. I liked it with Abhishek and Rani and I like it here, too. Otherwise she has not much to do but being in a few scenes shortly before the songs and playing bait once when Kakha kidnaps her.

Shooo shweet.
The supporting actors - who there are a plenty - are good, too, with Rahul Dev leading the way. Srinivasa Rao is not in a lot of scenes, so there´s not much to speak about and - Thank God! - there is  only one comedian, Venu Madhav, also because the comedy comes mostly from the lead actors themselves. One of the funniest scenes is when Venu (can I call him Venu? It seems so inappriorate for some strange reason) tells Kakha´s son what would happen if he´d marry Ileana for real. What follows is a little seduction scene played by Prabhas and Ileana in best OTT-Soap-Opera-Style imagined by him. 

The action department did their best in the fighting sequences, especially the fight in the basketball field. Complete with heavy rain! (Because we all know: Wet Prabhas=movie selling like 1000 times more. No, just kidding). That was AWESOME. Prabhas, being the amazing fighter that he is, makes even the most ridiculous and unrealistic stunt sequences believable. And he´s just SO COOL! Sorry.

Ohhh...You better don´t mess around with me...
Because when I get angry... might end as a basketball.
And don´t tell me I didn´t warn you.
That´s actually from another scene but it just shows how cool Prabhas is in the movie.
Of the songs only three are notable exceptions: "Chammakkuro", which has Shriya starring as an Item Girl and Prabhas channeling his inner Clark Gable, "Koncham Koncha" with Prabhas and Ileana in a rajasthani inspired number and "Vastaava Vastaava" that is just delightfully silly and OTT.

 My favourite: "Chammakkuro". 
Prabhas as Clark Gable is MIGHTY YUMMY. I can´t even think straight when I see him in the song.

(The only bad thing about this song is that it always makes me wish that Shriya would be the heroine of Munna and that I start imagining a sideplot where Shriya falls in love with Munna and they become a couple and run away everytime I see this song. Because although having seen only one movie with them together I do think that Prabhas and Shriya have amazing chemistry and that it outdoes Prabhas´ chemistry with Ileana like a 1000 times. Oh how I wish they would make a movie again!)

Something I´ve also noticed about the movie was the cinematography and the way it depicted Hyderabad. Instead of making the viewer feel like he´s watching a video made by the tourism department of Hyderabad, the cinematography shows the city as something in the background, something that is still there but that rather serves the ongoing action in the movie than pushing itself into the limelight.

I really like Munna. I think it´s one of Prabhas´ best movies because it has a really well scripted, elaborated story and is compelling to watch even if you already know the twists. Moreover it has good acting and the action is great. My opinion about Prabhas might be blurred by my fangirly love of his hairstyle but I do think that even objectively speaking it´s one of his better performances. I also like the overall atmosphere of the film. It´s more gritty and dark with only a few light moments at the beginning and in the songs which sets it apart from most of the other telugu movies I have seen so far. So... would I recommend it? Anytime.

P.S. Prabhas´-Hands-Appreciation-Time! Because you know that you just love them! They also had a lot to do in the movie:

Ruffling his hair...
Mixing drinks...
Showing Praju that he can Talk To The Hand....
Holding the heroine...
Being so amazed by his own hands that he had to pause for a minute... or maybe he was just high...
Making a fist...
And because what better use than with the difficult task of counting!
Awww... don´t you love them just like I do?

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