Krishnarjuna Yuddham movie review: Nani's charming performance can't save this over-stretched film
Watching Krishnarjuna Yuddham feels like fighting a battle with yourself and in doing so, you discover that even your patience has its limits.
It’s not just enough to buy a ticket to watch Krishnarjuna Yuddham. You’ve got to pack in oodles of patience and a handful of pills to relieve you from pain.
But then, wisdom is almost always an afterthought. Who would have known how the experience of watching this film, starring Nani in dual roles, along with Anupama and Rukshar, would turn out before walking into the cinema hall? If I had known what I was signing up for, I would have also walked to a hospital to volunteer for stem cell therapy and even urge them to initiate the process of human cloning.
Point is, watching Krishnarjuna Yuddham feels like fighting a battle with yourself and in doing so, you discover that even your patience has its limits.
The film narrates two different stories, led by Krishna (Nani) and Arjun (Nani). Krishna tries hard to be a casanova in his village in Chittoor district, but luck is never on his side. On the other hand, Arjun, a rockstar living in Prague, has mastered the art of flirting with women. One fine day, Krishna meets Riya (Rukshar), and Arjun meets Subbalakshmi (Anupama), and the rest of the story is about how their lives get intertwined.
It’s quite evident that Merlapaka Gandhi, who wrote and directed the film, wants you to see how different Krishna and Arjun are. Krishna is a simpleton, but Arjun is an arrogant guy. Krishna gets rejected by every single woman in his village, Arjun gets anyone he wants. Krishna lives in a village somewhere in Chittoor, Arjun is living it up in Prague. Krishna is brave, but Arjun shies away from indulging in violence. Krishna falls head over heels for a girl but doesn’t confess his love to her, but Arjun goes after a girl who brings meaning to his life.
So far, so good. But there’s a big problem with the narrative which keeps jumping from a village to Prague and back again. There’s hardly a moment where you feel glued to the story and just when things seem to be falling in place, we are forced to watch another story that’s unfolding at the same time.
And to complicate things even further, Gandhi takes over an hour to set up the main conflict of his story. Till then, all we get is reel-after-reel of how Krishna and Arjun slowly try to impress the women they fall in love with, respectively. The only character that’s quite endearing in this whole drama is that of Krishna and Nani is completely at ease with himself when he’s playing that role in particular. His Chittoor accent and comic timing is top notch.
Contrary to that, it’s hard to empathise with Nani as Arjun, who comes across more like a stranger in an European city. Anupama Parameswaran plays a photographer, who’s strong and stubborn. She keeps avoiding Arjun because the latter is a casanova and she wants to prove it to him that she isn’t like every other girl he has met so far. After a point, when Arjun’s tireless efforts to woo her get tiresome, you are left wondering if their sub-plot is going to end anytime soon. All of a sudden, you begin to miss Krishna and Riya, because, let’s face it, in the larger scheme of things, they are the only two characters who give you an impression that there is some hope left. Rukshar does a fine job as a city-bred girl who goes to her village on a vacation.
Let’s make no mistake - Krishnarjuna Yuddham isn’t about the aforementioned characters. And once the conflict is established, which completely alters the narrative once again, everything that felt boring so far feels like the film’s USP. The film addresses a larger issue that brings everyone together. As relevant as the backdrop might sound, it doesn’t translate well as a cinematic experience.
Forget about the film turning into nerve-wracking thriller in the second half, where the characters are supposed to race against time, it just doesn’t make an iota of difference to what we feel about the film in the end. The only thing it manages to achieve is set a new record in terms of the number of times you looked at your watch. It just doesn’t end. Time hasn’t felt this precious in a long time.
To give credit where it is due, Krishnarjuna Yuddham has a lot of beautiful imagery, thanks to its warm tones and soothing colour palette, and full credit to cinematographer Karthik for his work. The visual style might not add much to the narrative and emotional depth of the characters, but the saturated greens and yellows on screen make the film palatable, at least.
On one side there’s a notion that the film has all the necessary elements - vastly different characters, a conflict, an issue it tries to address - to make for an engaging drama, but on the other side, there’s the image of me sitting in the cinema hall not knowing what to make of the film because it struggles to find its rhythm and doesn’t build the drama efficiently. Maybe this film had to be just about Krishna and Riya. Maybe this should have been named ‘Krishnagaadi Veera Prema Gaadha’, which is the name of another film starring Nani. Maybe Gandhi added way too much to the broth to add weight to the story. Maybe, it didn’t have to flip-flop between being endearing and being boring so quickly and regularly. It’s a series of choices which could have been different, but then it is what it is.
Krishnarjuna Yuddham is 158 minutes long. But if you were wise enough to ask a doctor to clone you before watching the film, by the time you go back home, your clone, who has grown up quicker than the film comes to an end, would open the door for you, give you a glass of water, and give you a tight hug, and say, “I know that feeling bro”.
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