Prathi Roju Pandage movie review: Sathyaraj, Rao Ramesh are terrific but film could've been more consistently engaging
Prathi Roju Pandage manages to deliver what it sets out to achieve, even if the journey is a little shaky in a few stretches.
castSathyaraj, Sai Dharam, Rao Ramesh, Raashi Khanna, Hari Teja, Srikanth Iyengar, Mahesh, Suhas
Prathi Roju Pandage, directed by Maruthi, tells the story of Raghu Ramayya (Sathyaraj), a septuagenarian, who is told he has less than five weeks to live after he is diagnosed with lung cancer.
He embraces his fate and confesses about his health condition to his family, who live far away from him, but much to his surprise, his family members decide they can only come to visit him in the final two weeks of his life. Raghu does not protest much because he has already let them set them free, and has no expectations from them. Even if he has, he does not tell any of them about how he feels. The loneliness he has lived with after his wife passed away is his only companion. And then, his life changes completely with the arrival of his grandson, Sai (Sai Dharam), who comes to spend time with Raghu.
The film typifies the zeitgeist of the decade, where the likes of Shatamanam Bhavati, Onamalu and Srimanthudu among several others have dealt with the urban vs rural divide, the inter-generational distance, and the very idea of home and cultural roots. What differentiates Prathi Roju Pandage from its ilk is it acknowledges the emotional and physical distance between family members, and puts a new spin on the debate over maintaining a healthy work-life balance, especially when it comes to one’s own family. The film is as much about a father-son relationship as it is about the circle of life where your actions set the precedent for the next generation. Maruthi handles all these aspects quite beautifully, even when he treats this tale of an old man waiting for his death as a heartwarming comedy.
Behind the veil of its comedy, Prathi Roju Pandage has an emotional core. It is exemplified by how Maruthi treats the lead character in the story. He is a kind man and often does not spell out his thoughts, even to his own family members. He has no bitterness towards his family even when he becomes the target of their apathy. He smiles at their innocence and boorishness. While they await his death with a lot of curiosity, Raghu is a content man because, at least, he gets to see them in front of his eyes.
All these traits hit you like a brick at a later sequence in the story where more than his health, the emotional outburst of his son makes him weak. All he ever wanted was love and empathy from his children and what truly breaks his heart is that prospect of seeing himself being turned into an inconsequential memory right in front of his eyes. His hands quiver, he slumps into his chair, and does not have the heart to look into the eyes of his family members anymore.
The film hits the right notes when it focuses on the equation between Raghu and his eldest son (Rao Ramesh). The latter becomes so practical in his life, and showers so much love on his son Sai (Sai Dharam) that he forgets about his own father. This dichotomy is an important subplot in the film. Maruthi gives wings to all the three actors, Sathyaraj, Rao, and Sai to soar high. While Sathyaraj and Sai charm you with their bonding on screen, it is Rao who steals the show with his sublime performance. It is not just his comic timing alone that stands out, but also how he effortlessly shifts between showcasing frustration and apathy. Raashi Khanna is hilarious as Angel Aarna, a Tik Tok celebrity. She leaves a strong impression in her role which is filled with a lot of innocence. Hari Teja, Srikanth Iyengar, Mahesh, and Suhas too deliver noteworthy performances.
In his attempt to keep the family together, despite the circumstances and quirky characters, Maruthi invests a lot more effort and time into the first half of the story, and it shows. The film feels lopsided because the conflict resolution in the second half of the story does not strike you as hard as the conflict itself. At every stage, you are reminded of the underlying emotion between Raghu and his children, but it is not until much later in the story that they realise what they are missing out on.
As a result, we are forced to hinge on the entertaining portions to stay glued to the proceedings. It still works but the premise loses its novelty after a point. The final confrontation between Sai and his family members too feels a tad too contrived and boring.
The idea behind Prathi Roju Pandage, about an old man waiting for his death, could have turned into a tale of the protagonist reflecting on his own choices, about his upbringing, and loneliness. However, Maruthi chooses a different route where the antidote of loneliness is a few genuine moments of laughter and joy.
By placing the onus of the emotional reckoning on the family members rather than the old man, Maruthi turns Prathi Roju Pandage into a discourse on how we engage with our parents and grandparents in their old age. It has its share of laughs and emotional moments. It manages to deliver what it sets out to achieve, even if the journey is a little shaky in a few stretches.
Rating: 3.25 stars
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