Gayatri movie review: Plot takes a backseat in what can only be called a show reel for Mohan Babu

Hemanth Kumar

Feb,09 2018 13:32 41 IST

2.5/5

Is there anything that Mohan Babu hasn’t done in his illustrious career spanning 40 years (and 550 films)? I’m not sure. Is there anything that Mohan Babu can’t do today? I’m not sure either. Because his latest film Gayatri is less of a film but more of a showreel to reinforce his acting prowess just in case we had few doubts left lingering in our mind.

Directed by Madan, the film, rather conveniently, has Mohan Babu playing a stage artiste, who’s also a master of disguise. As a result, we have reel after reel of ‘substantial proof’ that there’s no one like Mohan Babu when he plays another version of his onscreen persona. Call it indulgence or a solid attempt to re-introduce the legend of Mohan Babu to a new generation, his presence in the film is so overwhelming that the plot itself gets a secondary treatment.

So, what is the plot? This is the story about Shivaji (Mohan Babu), a middle-aged man, who is a stage artiste by profession. On the other hand, he goes out of his way to fund orphanages across the country. Why? Because he believes that it might help him to meet his long-lost daughter. But fate has other plans, and after several twists and turns, he’s forced to make a difficult choice when he meets Gayatri Patel (also played by Mohan Babu).

Mohan Babu in Gayatri.

On paper, the film is about Nikhila Vimal, who plays Gayatri, a doctor. In the film, she’s still the central character but then, her prominence isn’t established until we are mid-way through the narrative. In the meantime, the focus is strictly on Mohan Babu, who still holds your attention in slow-motion shots, stunt sequences carefully choreographed to elevate his heroism, and dialogues that justify the laurels he has earned over the years.

There’s a dialogue in the film where supporting characters warn others while referring to Mohan Babu’s character and it goes something like this - “Let him stay on page 1. If he goes to page 2, his original character will come out and you never know what might happen.” If I could draw an analogy, the plot hardly goes beyond page 1 throughout the first half. You see Mohan Babu walking on the roads, walking into a goon’s den, walking into an orphanage, walking into a hospital. And just in case we had a doubt about his array of emotions, we get plenty of that too. It probably wouldn’t be exaggeration to say that Madan, the director of the film, gives a die-hard Mohan Babu, a five-meal course that’s good enough to feed a entire village.

The film gets a tad more interesting when a backstory involving Vishnu Manchu and Shriya Saran is revealed. Just in case, you began to wonder if their onscreen chemistry clicks or not, the entire montage song - Oka Nuvvu Oka Nenu - that’s shot on the two actors is a sight to behold and it’s one of the best segments in the film. Despite their short-lived characters, both the actors deliver decent performances.

On the other hand, Nikhila Vimal leaves a strong impression, and she emotes so well that she turns into the emotional anchor of the film. Anasuya, who plays a journalist, doesn’t quite get to sink her teeth into the role which feels underwritten. But can anyone blame her? After all, filmmakers often have a twisted view of media and journalists that even the most ideal journalist they can imagine feels more like a caricature.

But let’s not forget - Gayatri is a film tailor-made for Mohan Babu. He’s ubiquitous in the film and even though the filmmaking itself feels old-school, Mohan Babu gets enough material to show that he’s still young at heart. When he isn’t romancing two young damsels, he refers to himself as a God. When he isn’t bashing up goons, he lets tears trickle down his face. When he’s almost done with doing everything under the Sun, he praises himself with what turned out to be my favourite moment in the film. In his trademark style, Mohan Babu praises himself saying - “What a ferformance!’ You see, he gets so involved in his character that he even recites the dialogues which are meant for the viewers.

The film could have been a taut thriller in its last act with the arrival of Gayatri Patel (Mohan Babu), but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. The climax itself is wonderfully set-up, but it’s resolved in such a simple manner that I couldn’t help but think of how ingenious it would have been had Madan sought the help of Aadhar database. Confused? You’ll know what I mean, if you see the film. But should you see it? Like Mohan Babu keeps saying in the film - the choice is yours.

Published Date: Feb 09, 2018 13:32 PM | Updated Date: Feb 09, 2018 13:32 PM