Several commenters on my reaction to the trailer of Allu Arjun’s new film DJ told me I should watch Arya 2 and Arya.
I have just recently discovered Mahesh Babu, and I was really excited to be able to see my first Mahesh Babu film on the big screen. I have been listening to the Brahmotsavam soundtrack non-stop, especially Vacchindi Kada Avakasam, the first song in the movie. The full song sequence did not disappoint!
I have very mixed feelings about the movie. The songs and the soundtrack are GREAT. I mean, I saw a movie with an A. R. Rahman soundtrack this week that didn’t impress me half as much (the Tamil Sci-fi 24)! And the song number sequences were amazing. The dancing, everything. I’m going to be downloading most of the soundtrack. Vachhindi Kada Avakasam is still my favorite, but the title track and several other songs are fantastic.
I felt like this was one of those movies where they assembled all the actors, but didn’t really have a script. I can hear the pitch to Mahesh – It will be about family! Two romances with your romantic leads from other films! Great location shots all over India! Scenic! Gorgeous! Great music!
And….. then the plot was an afterthought.
I have not seen Seethamma Vakitlo Sirimalle Chettu, writer/director Srikanth Addala‘s previous hit film with Mahesh Babu. Three Indian guys after the movie told me that one is much better, and one I should definitely see.
Brahmotsavam (which I think means grand celebration) is very much like the Hindi classic family films Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (HAHK) and Hum Saath Saath Hain (HSSH). Not a lot of plot. Lots of family.
The drama, such as it is, is that the Sathyaraj, father of Mahesh, loves big celebrations and family gatherings. He is wealthy and has a paint company that he started with 400 rupees given to him by his wife’s family. His brothers work for him at the company. But there is one brother-in-law who is bitter and resentful. And this is where the non-specific relationship names in the subtitles were tripping me up. When Mahesh called the mean uncle, “uncle”, it could have been because he was his father’s partner and it took me quite awhile to figure out that he WAS a family uncle. I don’t know the Telugu terms as well as I do the Hindi yet.
Mean uncle wants Mahesh to marry his daughter. But Mahesh is falling for Kajal who is visiting for the holiday? Her relationship to Mahesh was really unclear. I couldn’t catch if she was a cousin, her father’s relationship to Mahesh’s father I couldn’t figure out. I think she was the daughter of a family friend.
I was very, very confused. We have this “wedding scene’ which I later figured out was a holiday ritual. Family on two sides of a room with a god/goddess statue at the center front. And the family members argue in turn like they are arranging the marriage of the gods. “What’s this about this Radha we’ve heard about?? Will the groom be faithful?” Banter like that. The scene is repeated later in the movie which is when I finally figured it out. The first time I literally could not tell if they were arguing and arranging Mahesh’s marriage or his sister’s or WHAT the heck was going on. It was a scene I have never seen in an Indian movie before, but I haven’t seen very many Southern Telugu films.
What was good in the film were the two romances with Mahesh. The first is with Kajal, and their teasing flirtation, and couple of songs were fantastic. This song made me swoon.
She goes on a big family trip with Mahesh’s family, which reminded me very much of the family trip scenes in Hum Saath Saath Hain. Cue GORGEOUS scenery.
And me mouthing that Liz Lemon line over and over, “I want to go to there!”
SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS ahead.
Their break up is over something I have never seen in an Indian movie. Kajal breaks it off because she can see his large family means so much to Mahesh, but she just can’t take so many people all at once all the time. (And she seems to have a career in Australia, too.)
There was a family argument with mean uncle and Mahesh’s father — and then this super weird confusing scene where Mahesh is consoling his despondent father. And it turns into like a nightmare dream state and Mahesh is running around the house — and the father is dead? I mean it was not obvious, and it took me awhile of dialogue after that to figure it out! The subtitles might have not served me well, but it was damned confusing. It was a missed opportunity for drama, in my opinion.
So now Mahesh is lonely, his uncle won’t reconcile, and Kajal left him.
Enter Samantha, a friend of his sister’s in London! She comes to the house in a very funny scene, introducing herself as the sister’s friend and can she stay. Sure! Um, can I bring in to stay some friends I met on the way? Sure! An entire BUSLOAD of people come into the house!! It was very amusing. Samantha Prabhu was in the Tamil film 24 I saw earlier this week, and she was better here, but not exceptional.
She is the life and brightness that Mahesh needed. She obviously loves having more and more family and people around, which is just what he likes. For some unknown reason, he brings her with him on a quest to find “the generations” — his roots and to meet all his distant relatives. This leads to traveling ALL OVER INDIA finding distant cousins, Nasser is one, and other recognizable character actors. This part was super super confusing to me. The cities visited were stunning and gorgeous, but it was hard to tell why they went all those places.
And at the end he invites them all to his uncle’s daughter’s wedding, thus showing respect?? And they reconcile and Mahesh begs to live in his uncle’s house. Wha???
What really, really irked me was that when Kajal breaks up with Mahesh, she kisses him and hugs him. Mean uncle sees this and leaves the family trip in a huff — because he had wanted his daughter to marry Mahesh. He doesn’t know that Kajal was breaking it off. Now, what happens next was confusing in the movie, but I think he beat his own daughter. And Mahesh goes to the hospital and the daughter tells Mahesh that her father (mean Uncle) was upset when he saw the Kajal kiss. She has bruises all over one arm, and her ankle is being bandaged.
So the whole movie Mahesh is trying to reconcile with the mean uncle. He is not ostracized for harming his daughter. He arranges a good marriage for her at the end– I’m not sure we ever saw the groom, and frankly up till the end I couldn’t tell if Mahesh was the groom and was giving up Samantha to patch up the family. It was that confusing! But I know this is all “Indian family values” like in HAHK, but I was really bothered about it as I’ve been thinking it over in the hours since I left the theater. WHY should family harmony trump all, and there be no backlash for the daughter beating. It rankles me that Mahesh felt he needed to literally bow down to this uncle to make peace.
And Mahesh has a sister we see on video chat, but she doesn’t ever reappear even after the father’s death. Another missed opportunity for drama.
I was so confused at the end! As I walked out of the theater three young men stopped me and asked how I liked it, and I admitted that I was confused but loved the soundtrack. And they said it was all about connecting to the generations at an Indian wedding, but they agreed that the plot was confusing to them, too. That made me feel somewhat better because I thought it was just me, and my ignorance of the Telugu language and the Southern rituals and all. But these three guys said the plot was not the best for them either.
Brahmotsavam was a big letdown for me. This movie was not as great as I was hoping it would be. I will read up on what the heck the plot was about, and then go back to see it again when the prices are lower. (It was $18 for the opening day.) I did love the song sequences a lot, and would like to see them again on the big screen. The colors, the scenery, the chemistry with Kajal, the music, were all fantastic. It’s just really a shame that there wasn’t a worthy enough plot and drama to hold it all together. I contrast this to Kapoor and Sons which was such a fantastic family drama with a stellar script. I shouldn’t have to come out of a movie and then go online to figure out what the plot was that I just saw!
I give Brahmotsavam two and a half stars out of five, mainly for the music alone and the romance with Kajal.