Review: ‘Keedaa Cola,’ starring Chaitanya Rao Madadi, Rag Mayur, Brahmanandam, Tharun Bhascker, Jeevan Kumar, Vishnu Oi and Ravindra Vijay

November 29, 2023

by Carla Hay

Rag Mayur and Chaitanya Rao Madadi in “Keedaa Cola” (Photo courtesy of Suresh Productions)

“Keedaa Cola”

Directed by Tharun Bhascker

Telugu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Hyderabad, India, the comedy film “Keedaa Cola” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: When a con artist buys a soda bottle and finds a cockroach in the bottle, he and his best friend, who is also a scammer, decide they can make millions from extortion from the soda company, but don’t know that the planted cockroach is part of a criminal revenge plot.

Culture Audience: “Keedaa Cola” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of comedies with a lot of madcap and silly hijinks as distractions for weak storytelling.

Ravindra Vijay (in front) in “Keedaa Cola” (Photo courtesy of Suresh Productions)

“Keedaa Cola” starts off with a flimsy concept (planting a cockroach in some cola as a set-up for extortion), and the movie never quite bolsters the concept with a solid story. The comedy flails around in annoying ways with subpar acting performances. It’s the type of comedy that doesn’t to live up to its potential to be a hilarious film.

Directed by Tharun Bhascker, “Keedaa Cola” was written by Bhascker, Pranay Koppala, Shanthan Raj and Ramya Kakumanu. The movie takes place in Hyderabad, India. Best friends/con artists Vasthu (played by Chaitanya Rao Madadi) and Koushik, also known as Lancham (played by Rag Mayur), are shown in the opening scene trying and failing to do one of their con games in a courtroom. Vasthu is in a wheelchair, pretending to be disabled so he can collect money in a court case, but the case is dismissed.

At the very beginning of the film, a statement is shown on screen that says: “I wish there was another disclaimer that says greed is hazardous to your health.” It’s a hard lesson that Vasthu and Lancham will learn when they take their extortion plans to ridiculous levels. The beginning of the film also shows a scene of the cockroach in the soda bottle as the bottle is part of an assembly line.

How did the cockroach get in the bottle? That information won’t be revealed in this review, but it’s enough to say that it has to do with a murder witnessed years ago by two friends named Sikander and Bhakta Naidu (also known as Naidu Anna and nicknamed Anna), who met at a music festival when they were about 13 or 14 years old. Anna’s brother Jeevan Naidu gets involved in certain way.

Now in their 30s, Sikander (played by Vishnu Oi), Anna (played by “Keedaa Cola” director Bhascker) and Jeevan (played by Jeevan Kumar) have a connection to the bottle with the cockroach in it. They are looking for it at a convenience store where the bottle has ended up, but Vasthu has already bought the soda bottle and taken it home.

The soda is really for Vasthu’s grandfather Varadaraju (played by Brahmanandam), who loves the grape flavor of this particular soda. Lancham is there with Vasthu and Varadaraju when they see the cockroach in the bottle. After getting over their shock, Vasthu tells Lancham: “This is our lottery ticket to millions.”

The rest of “Keedaa Cola” is how these two different sets friends have different intentions for what to do about someone finding a cockroach in this soda bottle. The CEO of the soda company (played by Ravindra Vijay), who doesn’t have a name in the movie, will do whatever it takes for it not to become public that this cockroach was found in one of his company’s soda bottles. There are several battles and chase scenes with menacing thugs.

“Keedaa Cola” becomes a bit jumbled in trying to weave these two different storylines together into a cohesive plot. The backstories for Sikander, Anna and Jeevan are particularly messy and take away from the more entertaining characters of bumbling con artists Vasthy and Lancham. All of these characters are fairly hollow and merely exist for the poorly staged and hard-to-believe action scenes.

The cast members’ acting isn’t anything special, and the movie’s direction and tone are quite shrill and annoying. “Keedaa Cola” will be liked most by people who just want to see a lot of violent slapstick in fight scenes and chase scenes. It’s not the worst movie ever, but it’s not worth seeing if you want to watch a comedy that has characters with personalities that are engaging instead of annoying.

Suresh Productions released “Keedaa Cola” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on November 3, 2023.

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