Review: ‘Tiger Nageswara Rao,’ starring Ravi Teja, Anupam Kher, Jisshu Sengupta, Renu Desai and Nupur Sanon

October 28, 2023

by Carla Hay

Nupur Sanon and Ravi Teja in “Tiger Nageswara Rao” (Photo courtesy of Abhishek Agarwal Arts)

“Tiger Nageswara Rao”

Directed by Vamsee

Telugu with some language in Tamil, Hindi, Kannada and Malayalam with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India, primarily in the 1970s, with some scenes in 1980 and the 1950s, the action film “Tiger Nageswara Rao” (loosely based on the real life of notorious thief Nageswara Rao) features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A Robin Hood-like thief, who robs from the rich so he can give to the poor, tries to avoid being captured by law enforcement.

Culture Audience: “Tiger Nageswara Rao” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners, but it’s an overly long and repetitive mess of tiresome clichés.

Anupam Kher in “Tiger Nageswara Rao” (Photo courtesy of Abhishek Agarwal Arts)

Even though “Tiger Nageswara Rao” is loosely based on the real life of notorious thief Nageswara Rao, the movie is just a pathetic ripoff of stories about English folk hero Robin Hood, but without any charm and intrigue that define Robin Hood lore. This three-hour slog of hack filmmaking drags with empty stereotypes of action flicks about outlaws, revenge and betrayals. The movie’s rampant misogyny, bad acting and wretched story make this vile film a big turnoff. Avoid this bloated trash.

Directed by Vamsee (who co-wrote the horrendous “Tiger Nageswara Rao” screenplay with Srikanth Vissa), “Tiger Nageswara Rao” takes place in India, mostly in the 1970s. In the city of Chirala, the rehabilitation colony of Stuartpurnam exists for the Erukula tribe, which has a history of oppression from British conquerors. In the 1970s, Stuartpurnam is plagued with violent crimes. Local law enforcement is overwhelmed and can’t seem to reign in the worst criminals.

The movie begins on March 22, 1980. A code red alert has summoned deputy superintendent of police Vishwanath Sastry (played by Murali Sharma) to India’s Intelligence Bureau headquarters in New Delhi. One of the officials he meets with is an officer named Raghavendra Rajput (played by Anupam Kher), who tells Vishwanath that they are looking to take down Tiger Nageswara Rao (nicknamed Nagi), a corrupt politician who has a long history of being a thief.

Vishwanath says he knows who Nageswara is, because he had a run-ins with him in Chirala. The movie then flashes back to a train heist that was masterminded by Nageswara, sometime in the 1970s. The chase scenes (some of which take place on top of the moving train) have shoddy and very fake-looking visual effects.

The movie then further flashes back to 1956, to show Nageswara as an orphaned child at 8 years old. He became a protégé of a criminal named Gajjala Prasad (plagued by Nassar), who teaches Nageswara how to become a master thief at the age of 11. By the time he was in his 20s, Nageswara (played by Ravi Teja) was considered to be India’s biggest thief. Nageswara was also difficult to capture. Teja, who was in his mid-50s when he made “Tiger Nageswara Rao,” never looks believable as someone who is supposed to be in his 20 in this movie.

In 1971, a member of the legislative assembly named Yelamanda (played by Hareesh Peradi) supervises a auction that is held every year in Stuartpurnam. The auction, which has luxury goods, is the ideal target for a thief such as Nageswara. You can imagine what happens next. Yelamanda is one of a growing list of people who becomes an enemy of Nageswara. In addition to federal agent Rajput, there’s a local Chirala police inspector named Mouli (played by Jisshu Sengupta) who is hunting Nageswara.

Nageswara is not only greedy when it comes to money, he’s also a promiscuous lout who treats women like playthings to be used and abused. The movie shows in non-explicit ways that he thinks he’s an expert seducer of women, just because he has orgies with at least 10 women at a time. One day, while Nageswara is at an outdoor market, an attractive young woman named Sara (played by Nupur Sanon) catches his attention. It’s lust at first sight for Nageswara.

And then (get ready to cringe), this idiotic dialogue happens: Nageswara says to Sara as a pickup line: “I’m hungry.” Sara replies in a sexual double entendre, “In order to eat off my plate, one must fast for three days.”

Nageswara doesn’t like this rejection from Sara, so he hits her so hard, she falls down. A nearby police officer goes to defend Sara, but Nageswara assaults him too. The brawling that ensues consists of more phony-looking stunts. Nageswara wins the fight and walks away without getting arrested.

Nageswara isn’t done with Sara, who is engaged to be married. Nageswara shows up unannounced and uninvited at her wedding. He ruins the wedding by telling Sara that he stole her dowry money from a chest. She slaps him, but Nageswara insists that Sara will be his, as if she’s a possession, not a human being.

Sara’s fiancé backs out of the wedding when he hears the dowry has been stolen. Nageswara uses this abandonment as “proof” that the fiancé didn’t really love Sara. Nageswara also says he did Sara a favor by exposing her fiancé as a gold digger. And in this awful movie, this tactic works. Nageswara is able to romance Sara for a while.

Through a series of circumstances, Nageswara ends up marrying someone else who doesn’t excite him as much as Sara does. Her name is Mani (played by Gayatri Bhardwaj), who becomes Nageswara’s long-suffering wife. Mani knows that Nageswara doesn’t love her as much as she loves him. Nageswara and Mani have twin daughters together. (Mani gives birth in a tacky melodramatic scene.)

“Tiger Nageswara Rao” tries to depict the title character as a “noble” folk hero who wants to use the money he steals to build a factory that can provide jobs, but the movie reprehensibly excuses his abuse of women. “Tiger Nageswara Rao” is really just a violent soap opera, where Nageswara continues to steal and avoid getting captured. He’s so smug and arrogant about his crimes, there’s nothing “noble” about him.

There are some sleazy subplots thrown into the movie, such as Sara being forced into prostitution. It’s just more of this film’s woman-hating attitude on display. No one in the movie’s cast gives a good performance. They all look like they’re on auto-pilot for their characters, who have one-dimensional personalities.

There’s so much unimaginative repetition in “Tiger Nageswara Rao” (robberies, unrealistic fight scenes, Nageswara getting away), it’s truly mind-numbing and boring to watch after a while. It’s also a movie that has musical numbers that don’t fit the film’s overall tone. “Tiger Nageswara Rao” also has an obnoxiously loud music score, which seems to be a characteristic of horrendous action flicks that mistakenly think “loud music score” equals “effective music score.” There is absolutely nothing in “Tiger Nageswara” that is truly original and worth seeing, which is another way of saying that people who value their time shouldn’t see this movie at all.

Abhishek Agarwal Arts released “Tiger Nageswara Rao” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on October 20, 2023.

Review: ‘Agent’ (2023), starring Akhil Akkineni, Mammootty, Dino Morea, Sakshi Vaidya and Vikramjeet Virk

May 5, 2023

by Carla Hay

Akhil Akkineni in “Agent” (Photo courtesy of Goldmines Telefilms)

“Agent” (2023)

Directed by Surender Reddy

Telugu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in India and in Hungary, the action film “Agent” features a predominantly Indian cast of characters (with some African people) representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: A wannabe spy gets his wish to become an undercover agent and proceeds to do a lot of damage in his quest to capture a villain who wants to take over the world. 

Culture Audience: “Agent” will appeal primarily to people who like watching overly long and mindless action movies.

Dino Morea in “Agent” (Photo courtesy of Goldmines Telefilms)

“Agent” is an utter waste of time and an assault on viewers’ intelligence. This putrid and idiotic action film has no redeeming qualities. You know it’s bad when the movie’s producer makes a public apology for dumping this cinematic trash into the world. In his apology, Anil Sunkara (one of the movie’s producers) admits that he should have read the movie’s screenplay before signing on to finance the movie.

Written and directed by Surender Reddy, “Agent” is nowhere near the level of “it’s so bad, it’s amusing.” It’s just a non-stop bombardment of stupidity, loud violence, aggressively moronic characters, horrible acting, choppy editing and vapid musical numbers. Being stuck watching “Agent” for the movie’s unbearably long 156-minute run time is like being stuck in a quicksand sewage dump: The more you try to resist it and want to get away, the worse it gets.

The first 10 minutes of “Agent” shows a meeting where a group of Indian spies are having a meeting about group of corrupt business people who call themselves The Syndicate. One of the members of The Syndicate is Jai Kishnan who masterminded a scam where he profited from a terrorist attack that he planned. Meanwhile, The Syndicate is maintaining the safest bank that the group can find to hide the money made from the group’s evil deeds.

A ship owned by The Syndicate gets seized by the Mozambique government, which leads to lots of gun shooting and people getting killed. But surprise! All of this is really a dream coming from a wannabe spy named Rammakrishna, nicknamed Ricky (played by Akhil Akkineni), who lives somewhere in India. He wakes up this dream, which has no relevence to the overall story. It’s just a complete waste of time.

Ricky is a dimwitted lug, but the movie wants viewers to believe that he’s also a brilliant computer expert. Ricky lives at home with his father (played by Murali Sharma) in a modest home that viewers are supposed to believe has a vast and intricate computer lab that looks like a movie set. Ricky has a robotic dog named Max.

Ricky’s dream is to become the top spy for the RAW Agency, which is headed by Colonel Guruji Mahadev (played by Mammootty), who is a tough taskmaster. Ricky has applied for the RAW Agency three times and has been rejected every time. Expect to see Ricky whining a lot about these rejections. A spiteful Ricky hacks into Colonel Mahadev’s computer to get revenge.

One day, Colonel Mahadev changes his mind about Ricky, who keeps pestering him to join RAW. Colonel Mahadev says, “You are untrained, unpredictable and unprofessional. No one would believe you’re an agent.” But when you hire an inept and bungling person, don’t be surprised if that person is inept and bungling on the job.

One of the first things that Ricky inexplicably does as a RAW agent is gun down 60 people (all men) from the RAW Agency. Why? Don’t expect any logical explanations in this vile movie. This mass murder scene is just an excuse to show the ridiculous action-movie cliché of one person taking on a large group of armed opponents and winning, even though in real life the opponent would easily outnumber and defeat one person.

Ricky has been sent on a mission to capture a villain named Dharma (played by Dino Morea), who is described in the movie as “born as a human, worked like a machine, and is now a beast.” Dharma has metal decorations over and above his left eyebrow. Don’t expect an explanation for these ridiculous-looking face accessories, except for some vague implication that Dharma was part of a scientific experiment and may no longer be fully human. Dharma is a former RAW agent who has formed his own crime syndicate in Budapest, Hungary.

At any rate, there’s some nonsense about Dharma being involved in a biotechnology plot to take over the world. The plot is called Mission Rabbit, and it’s about introducing “super cells” to gain power. One of the people who does battle with Ricky is ruthless Deva (played by Vikramjeet Virk), a generic assassin who doesn’t say much. And that’s probably a good thing for Deva, because the lines of dialogue in “Agent” are relentlessly foolish.

In every stereotypical action movie, the “hero” has a love interest, who is usually pretty but treated in the movie as no more than eye candy. In the case of “Agent,” the love interest is Vidya (played by Sakshi Vaidya), who adds nothing interesting to the story. Vidya is written in every sexist possible way, as someone who doesn’t deserve to have her own identity apart from being the “love interest” of the hero.

Here’s an example of how wretched “Agent” is: When Ricky first meets Vidya, he says to her: “Shall we make babies?” She looks insulted. But then he rewords his crass pickup line to say: “Will you be the mother of my kids?” Vidya then giggles. And then Vidya and Ricky begin dating each other.

There’s really not much else to say about “Agent,” which was a huge flop in India during the movie’s opening week. There’s an audience for stupid, big-budget action flicks. But apparently, even this audience thinks that “Agent” is a major turnoff and too worthless to watch.

Goldmines Telefilms released “Agent” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on April 28, 2023.

Review: ‘Kabzaa’ (2023), starring Upendra and Kiccha Sudeepa

March 25, 2023

by Carla Hay

Upendra in “Kabzaa” (Photo courtesy of Anand Pandit Motion Pictures)

“Kabzaa” (2023)

Directed by R. Chandru

Kannada with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place from 1945 to 1973, primarily in Amarapura, India, the action film “Kabzaa” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class, wealthy and criminal underground.

Culture Clash: A pilot in the Indian Air Force becomes entangled in gang warfare when he avenges the death of his brother. 

Culture Audience: “Kabzaa” will appeal primarily to people who are fans of the movie’s headliners and mind-numbing action movies that are too long.

Murali Sharma in “Kabzaa” (Photo courtesy of Anand Pandit Motion Pictures)

Completely idiotic drivel in every sense of the word, “Kabzaa” it’s just more of the same type of bloated, derivative action flick about power struggles with corrupt people, violent fight scenes, revenge plots, and some musical numbers thrown into the mix. This 134-minute onslaught of the senses is an endurance test to see how much your brain can be turned off or turned into mush by watching all of this garbage filmmaking.

Written and directed by R. Chandru, “Kabzaa” (which means “possession” in Hindi) starts off with a very sloppily edited and hastily told introduction of the main protagonists. In 1945, Tulasi Devi (played by Sudha) becomes a widow when her husband, a freedom fighter named Amareshwara, is killed by the British military. Tulasi and her young sons Sankeshwara (played by Jnan) and Arkeshwara (played by Chiru) relocate to Amarapura, India, where the this family of three work as flag sellers. Sankeshwara is older than Arkeshwara.

In 1947, India becomes an independent nation. “Kabzaa: then fast-forwards to Visakhapatnam, India, in 1960. Arkeshwara (played by Upendra) is now a successful pilot in the Indian Air Force. Sankeshwara (played by Suneel Puranik) wanted to join the Air Force too, but he sacrified his dreams so that he could help take care of their mother.

By 1971, a royal heir named Veer Bahaddur (played by Murali Sharma) has ascended to power and wants to create a new dynasty. He also wants to become the next chief minister of his state. His opponent is the incumbent chief minister Ghanshyam Pandey (played by Lakki Lakshman), who wants to hold on to his chief minister position at any cost. It sets the stage for a war between Ghanshyam and Veer that will inevitably lead to many people getting killed.

Three gangsters rule the crime world in Amarapura. Their names are Bagheera (played by Nawab Shah), Khaleed (played by M. Kamaraj) and Malik (played by John Kokken). Khaleed has a son named Sartaaj (played by Taha Shah), who is a willing accomplice to Khaleed’s crimes, including a murder spree that is intended to cause disruption to the upcoming elections. Also part of these dirty dealing is a corrupt police officer named Bhargava Bakshi (played by Kiccha Sudeepa), who is at war with some of the gangsters.

Sankeshwara kills Sartaaj for shooting an elderly woman. Out of revenge, Khaleed murders Sankeshwara in a grisly beheading. it should come as no surprise that Arkeshwara wants revenge on Khaleed. There are some predictable twists and turns to the story that reveal Arkeshwara will have more than one enemy.

During all of this madness and mayhem that takes place from 1971 to 1973, Arkeshwara courts and marries Madhumati Bahaddur (played by Shriya Saran), the “princess” daughter of Veer Bahaddur. Veer does not approve of this relationship, because he thinks that Madhumati should have a husband of a higher social status.

This disapproval leads to Madhumati becoming estranged from Veer and not being in contact with him. Madhumati and Arkeshwara have two sons together, but Veer is not in his grandsons’ lives because of the estrangement from Madhumati. Arkeshwara is still very close to his mother Tulasi, who is a loving and doting grandmother.

The murders and the revenge plots in “Kabzaa” are both bombastically over-the-top and soullessly formulaic There is really no suspense or mystery involved in who will live and who will die—although there is one particularly heinous scene of the two sons of Madhumati and Arkeshwara being set on fire, while Madhumati watches helplessly, as she’s held captive in a prison cell. This is not spoiler information, since these despicable murders of the children are already shown in the trailer for “Kabzaa.” The only spoiler information for this atrocious scene is to reveal who is responsible for these child murders.

All of the dialogue in “Kabzaa” is vapid. The acting is mediocre-to-bad. The action scenes are unoriginal. And it’s completely misguided to have cheerful musical numbers dropped in the parts of this very darkly violent film. Just when you think you’ve had enough of seeing all of these hollow characters, the movie ends with a cliffhanger that indicates the “Kabzaa” filmmakers intend to make a sequel to this train-wreck film. You have been warned.

Anand Pandit Motion Pictures released “Kabzaa” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on March 17, 2023.

Review: ‘Cirkus’ (2022), starring Ranveer Singh, Varun Sharma, Pooja Hegde and Jacqueline Fernandez

December 28, 2022

by Carla Hay

Jacqueline Fernandez, Sanjay Mishra, Ranveer Singh and Varun Sharma in “Cirkus” (Photo courtesy of T-Series Films)


Directed by Rohit Shetty

Hindi with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in the India, in the 1960s and briefly in the 1930s, the comedy film “Cirkus” features an Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Two sets of identical twin brothers are separated and switched at birth by a scientist who wants to test the “nature versus nurture” debate, in order to prove his theory that someone’s upbringing has more influence on their personality than biological genetics.

Culture Audience: “Cirkus” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching an aggressively hyperactive and annoying movie with a horrible story about twins and mistaken identities.

Siddhartha Jadhav, Umakant Patil and Ashish Warang in “Cirkus” (Photo courtesy of T-Series Films)

The vibrant cinematography and eye-catching production design of “Cirkus” are all wasted on a silly plot, bad acting and an unjustifiably atrocious ending that ignores ethical and legal issues of deliberately switching babies at birth. It’s a so-called comedy that will bring very few or no laughs to people who care about quality entertainment. The only thing that’s worth laughing at is how the “Cirkus” filmmakers spent a great deal of the movie’s budget on elaborate set designs and visual effects but then made the cheap-looking decision to have obvious toy dolls instead of real babies in the brief time that infants are shown on screen.

Directed by Rohit Shetty and written by Yunus Sajawal, “Cirkus” is loosely based on the William Shakespeare play “The Comedy of Errors,” which has hijinks that ensue when identical twin brothers have been separated at birth. It feels almost like blasphemy to mention Shakespeare and “Cirkus” in the same sentence, because it’s like comparing priceless art to worthless garbage. “Cirkus” is just too repetitive and too stupid to justify its total running time of 140 minutes. About 30 minutes into this abomination of a movie, viewers will feel like it’s less painful to have a circus elephant sit on them than to sit through watching all of “Cirkus.”

“Cirkus” begins by showing the two brothers who cause the chaos that later happens in the story. Sometime in the 1930s, Dr. Roy Jamnadas (played by Murali Sharma) and his younger brother Joy Jamnadas (played by Uday Tikekar) are operating Jamnadas Orphanage in Bangalore, India. One day, Roy and Joy find two pairs of newborn, identical twin brothers abandoned on the doorstep of the orphanage. The two pairs of twins are around the same age.

Roy decides that he wants to do an experiment to test the “nature versus nurture” debate, in order to prove his theory that someone’s personality is influenced more by that person’s upbringing than biological genetics. Roy wants to switch the identical twins, so that each twin will grow up with a brother he thinks is biologically related but actually is not biologically related. Joy vehemently objects to this very unethical and illegal decision, but Roy is determined to go through with it, and nothing can stop him.

The identical twins are switched so that one of the twin brothers is placed with a twin from the other pair who is biologically unrelated. When all four twin brothers are put up for adoption, they are presented as fraternal twins, not identical twins. Roy promises Joy that he will reveal the truth to all four brothers when the brothers are 30 years old. When Joy asks Roy what will happen if Roy isn’t alive in 30 years, Roy gives a vague response that maybe someone else can tell the twins the truth. Of course, in a predictable movie like “Cirkus,” Roy and Joy live for the next 30 years and show up again in the movie.

And what a coincidence: Both pairs of twins are adopted into families who want to name the twins after the Jamnadas brothers. One pair of the fake fraternal twins named Roy and Joy go to the Indian city of Ooty, where they have been adopted by a circus owner (played by Nikitin Dheer) and his wife (played by Supriya Roy). The other set of the fake fraternal twins named Roy and Joy stay in Bangalore, where they have been adopted by an affluent industrial engineer (played by Arjun Nagar) and his wife Shakuntala Devi (played by Ashwini Kalsekar).

After the babies quickly getting adopted, “Cirkus” briefly shows the two Roys and the two Joys as pre-teen children and teenagers. In these roles are Pratyaksh Panwar as pre-teen Roy, Hridansh Gokani as pre-teen Joy, Arya Mahajan as teenage Roy, and Krishna Panchal as teenage Joy. The movie then fast-forwards to showing the brothers at 30 years old.

For the purposes of this review, the Roy and Joy who grew up in Ooty will be called Ooty Roy and Ooty Joy. The Roy and Joy who grew up in Bangalore will be called Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy. Just like the brothers they were named after, Roy is the “alpha male” brother, while Joy is the “beta male” brother. Ooty Roy and Bangalore Roy are both played by Ranveer Singh. Ooty Joy and Bangalore Joy are both played by Varun Sharma.

Ooty Roy and Ooty Joy have taken over running their adoptive family’s circus, which is called Jubilee Cirkus, since their adoptive parents have retired. Ooty Roy has become a famous circus attraction known as Electric Man, for being physically immune when holding objects that conduct large wattages of electricity. Meanwhile, Bangalore Roy feels the effects of these electric jolts every time Ooty Roy does these electrical stunts. It’s a bizarre condition that Ooty Roy and Bangalore Roy have had since their childhoods. (No explanation is given in the movie for why they have this condition.)

The jolts are so big, Bangalore Roy can give people electrical shocks that can be harmful if they touch him. Bangalore Roy doesn’t know why he randomly gets these electrical jolts that run through his body and sometimes cause him to convulse wildly. Expect to see “Cirkus” show a lot of over-exaggerated slapstick comedy (that gets stale very quickly) of people getting electrical shocks and sometimes having seizures from these shocks.

Ooty Roy is happily married to a novelist named Mala (played by Pooja Hegde), who can’t get her work published under her real name for sexist reasons, so she uses the alias Col. Vikrant. And what a coincidence: Col. Vikrant’s biggest fan is Bangalore Roy. Ooty Joy has a girlfriend named Lily (played by Radhika Bangia). Bangalore Joy does not have a love interest in the movie.

The only discontent in the marriage between Mala and Ooty Roy is that they haven’t been able to conceive a child because Mala is infertile. Ooty Roy and Mala are seriously thinking about adopting a child. Mala wants to adopt a child from Jamnadas Orphanage, but Ooty Roy doesn’t like that idea. (You know where this is going, of course.)

Meanwhile, Bangalore Roy has a girlfriend named Bindu (played by Jacqueline Fernandez), whose arrogant and wealthy father Rai Sahab (played by Sanjay Mishra) does not approve of Bangalore Roy dating Bindu, because Rai thinks Bangalore Roy doesn’t come from a rich-enough family. By contrast, Bindu’s kind and open-minded mother Chachi (played by Sulabha Arya) accepts the relationship and treats Bangalore Roy with respect. Bangalore Roy has conflicts with Rai because Bangalore Roy wants to marry Bindu, but Rai refuses to give his blessing.

Rai is a blustering buffoon with a sidekick named Prem (played by Anil Charanjeett), whom Rai describes as his “manager,” but Prem is really just a “yes man” lackey and a completely useless character in a mindless story. The scenes with Rai are among the most cringeworthy in “Cirkus” because Mishra’s acting is so terrible. Rai, like almost everyone else in “Cirkus,” is a one-dimensional caricature.

Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy travel by train to Ooty, where they want to buy a tea-making farm. At the train station, three idiotic robbers, who have stolen ₹50,000 in cash, are being chased by police. The travel bag containing the money is accidentally dropped at the train station before the robbers make their getaway on a train that also happens to be the same train that has Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy as passengers.

The three robbers are nitwit leader Momo (played by Siddhartha Jadhav), who has a ridiculously large pompadour, and his two, less-talkative sidekicks Mango (played by Ashish Warang) and Chikki (played by Umakant Patil), who have utterly blank personalities. Momo is not only one of the most annoying characters in “Cirkus” (a movie filled with annoying characters), but he’s also perhaps the most annoying character that movie viewers will see in any given year.

Nothing that Momo says is funny, as he shouts his lines and makes dopey facial expressions for the camera. It doesn’t help that Jadhav gives one of the worst performances in the “Cirkus” cast. A recurring “joke” in the movie is that after Momo sees an incident of electrical shocks, he hollers, “Shock you!,” in the way that people curse, “Fuck you!”

These simple-minded robbers have lost their cash, but when they see Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy in a train car with a travel bag full of ₹50,000 in cash, the robbers decide to steal the cash from Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy. Later, viewers find out that Momo wants the cash to give as a birthday gift to a powerful crime boss named Polson Dada (played by Johnny Lever), who dresses like he’s stepped out of a 1970s pimp den, even though this part of the movie takes place in the 1960s.

Bangalore Roy and Bangalore Joy immediately notice upon arriving in Ooty that strangers already know their names and seem to know who they are. Meanwhile, it should come as no surprise that Ooty Roy and Ooty Joy end up in Bangalore and they get, and they also get mistaken for the other Roy and Joy. Along the way, a taxi driver named Naagmani (played by Vrajesh Hirjee), a jeweler named Veljibhai (played by Tiku Talsania) and a bandit-turned-hotel owner named Daaku Bagheera (played by Mukesh Tiwari) get involved in the ludicrous antics.

From a visual standpoint, “Cirkus” has a lot of eye candy, but the movie’s foolish and grossly unfunny story is like overloading on bad junk food. The title of the movie is also misleading, because only a few scenes actually take place in a circus. But even those circus scenes are nothing but hollow spectacles with very little substance. “Cirkus” completely missed a potentially great story opportunity to have the circus lifestyle as a big part of the movie’s plot.

The movie’s song-and-dance musical numbers are adequate, when it comes to the choreography, but the song lyrics are so witless and boring, they ruin whatever impact the musical numbers were supposed to have. The ending of “Cirkus” hints that there will be a sequel with other characters who have a connection to Jamnadas Orphanage. “Cirkus” is an utter failure at being amusing entertainment. It’s more like an overblown, nonsensical and deceptively flashy carnival act that cheats people out of their time and money.

T-Series Films released “Cirkus” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on December 23, 2022.

Review: ‘F3: Fun and Frustration,’ starring Venkatesh Daggubati and Varun Tej

June 6, 2022

by Carla Hay

Venkatesh Daggubati, Varun Tej and Mehreen Pirzada in “F3: Fun and Frustration” (Photo courtesy of Sri Venkateswara Creations)

“F3: Fun and Frustration”

Directed by Anil Ravipudi

Telugu with subtitles

Culture Representation: Taking place in Hyderabad, India, the comedy film “F3: Fun and Frustration” features an all-Indian cast of characters representing the working-class, middle-class and wealthy.

Culture Clash: Two men with financial problems come up with “get rich quick” schemes, but their plans keep getting ruined for various reasons.

Culture Audience: “F3: Fun and Frustration” will appeal primarily to people who don’t mind watching hyperactive silliness in a two-and-a-half-hour movie.

Murali Sharma in “F3: Fun and Frustration” (Photo courtesy of Sri Venkateswara Creations)

“F3: Fun and Frustration” offers very little fun and a lot of frustration. It’s a witless comedy, manically told with terrible acting, in an irritating story that’s overstretched to two-and-a-half hours. What makes this movie even more difficult to watch is that it has no self-awareness about how bad it is. “F3: Fun and Frustration” tries to cram in as many dumb ideas as possible, thereby making the story lurch around from one horrible subplot to the next.

Written and directed by Anil Ravipudi, “F3: Fun and Frustration” is a sequel to the 2019 film “F2: Fun and Frustration.” Unfortunately, “F3: Fun and Frustration” gets trapped in a pitfall that plagues many sequels: In trying to surpass its predecessor, the sequel overstuffs the plot with too many things, thereby lacking a real focus and leaving major plot holes in its wake.

“F3: Fun and Frustration,” just like its predecessor, is supposed to be a wacky comedy. But “wacky” should not mean “incoherent.” The only consistent thing about the movie is that two friends named Venky (played by Venkatesh Daggubati) and Varun (played by Varun Tej, also known as Konidela Varun Tej) are still two buffoons who get caught up impersonating people as part of their foolish schemes. In “F2: Fun and Frustration,” Venky and Varun had false identities in order to prevent their love interests from getting married to other people. In “F3: Fun and Frustration,” the two pals assume fake personas as part of a con game to get rich quick.

In the beginning of “F3: Fun and Frustration” Venky is an agent working for the Regional Transport Office in Hyderabad, India. He’s married to Harika (played by Tamannaah Bhatia), who has a large and meddling family whose surname is Chambal. Venky has a strained relationship with his father (played by Goparaju Ramana) and his father’s second wife (played by Tulasi), who have four other children together. Venky’s mother died when Venky was a child, so Venky feels resentment about his father’s second marriage and the new family that his father started with Venky’s stepmother.

Venky lost almost all of his money when he invested in a restaurant owned by Harika’s family. As shown in a brief flashback, the day that restaurant opened, it had the misfortune of a food inspector eating at the restaurant and getting food poisoning. Venky says, “Our opening day became our closing day.”

Meanwhile, Venky’s best friend Varun is also having financial problems because he invested in the failed restaurant too. Varun is a fairly successful businessman who has won awards for his business skills, but his reputation becomes tainted because of his association with a criminal uncle named Katthi Seenu (played by Sunil Varma), a local thug and extortionist. In order to ease his financial woes, Varun decides he needs to find a rich woman to marry.

This is where the movie starts to get stupid: Varun meets a woman in a restaurant named Honey (played by Mehreen Pirzada), whom he thinks is a rich woman. Because Varun has a stutter, he asks Venky to pose as a rich business heir named Varun, in order to court Honey. Venky has night blindness, so when he meets Honey for a date at night, he doesn’t recognize that Honey is Harika’s sister.

Meanwhile, a police officer named Nagaraju (played by Rajendra Prasad) becomes a local hero for discovering an illegal election fund in cash worth two crores, which is about $258,000 ( U.S. dollars) in early 2020s money. Many people in the story end up competing with each other to find the cash after it gets stolen. Take a wild guess who two of those people are.

“F3: Fun and Frustration” also has moronic plot developments involving a successful businessman named Anand Prasad (played by Murali Sharma), who owns a toy manufacturing company called JK Industries. Varun and Venky see Anand doing a TV interview lamenting over his son, whom he says ran away from home 20 years ago, when the boy was 10 years old. Anand says that his son has been missing ever since.

It doesn’t take long for Varun and Venky to come up with a plan to impersonate the son. But these two dimwits end up impersonating the son at the same time, along with Harika (who’s disguised as a man) and a few other people who show up at Anand’s palace pretending to be the long-lost son. It gets worse. Anand apparently can’t decide which of these very different-looking people could be his son, so he decides these people claiming to be his long-lost son will enter a toy-making contest for JK Industries. Whoever sells the most toys will be all the proof he needs of who is his son.

And what about the mistaken identity of Honey? What about the cash that Nagaraju found and has now gone missing? These subplots get tangled up with others until everything because a giant mess that’s made worse by the entire cast mugging and over-acting for the cameras in desperate attempts to be funny. Absolutely no one in the cast does a performance that can save this train wreck of a movie.

It would be an understatement to say that the overly long “F3: Fun and Frustration” has atrocious editing. This horrific movie seems to go on and on with more idiocy piled on top of more idiocy, until all hope is buried that this movie will find some way of being coherent and engaging. It’s as if the filmmakers think that distracting viewers with more plot twists that insult viewers’ intelligence somehow will make the movie funnier. After trying and failing to be a hilarious screwball comedy for most of the movie, “F3: Fun and Frustration” has a sappy and maudlin ending that’s as phony as the personas used in the movie’s pathetic con games.

Sri Venkateswara Creations released “F3: Fun and Frustration” in select U.S. cinemas and in India on May 27, 2022.

Copyright 2017-2024 Culture Mix