the fun part of bangarraju, the sequel to soggade chinni nayana (2016), lies in what happens when the soul of the eldest bangarraju (nagarjuna akkineni) enters the body of his grandson bangarraju (naga chaitanya). this is when the young man who has inherited his grandfather’s traits of being charming, gains extra loot and a bit of worldly wisdom, and does it all with ease: taking on opponents in action sequences or diplomatically settling family frictions. the father-son duo is good to see in these portions; every time nagarjuna looks at chaitanya with pride, the theater explodes. a generally moderate chaitanya steps out of his comfort zone and has fun playing a flamboyant character.
bangarraju feels like a throwback to the 80s and 90s with its plot of a family revenge drama accented by supernatural elements. senior bangarraju and his wife satyabhama (ramya krishna), with the consent of lord yama, literally move between heaven and earth to help his grandson who is lonely and lost in a big united family. Nagarjuna and Ramya Krishna bring their ancient charm to the story and these are easy characters for them. Another thread of the story has to do with the mysterious power in the village Shiva temple.
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while soggade chinni nayana had a lot of fun with bangarraju teaching his nerdy son ram (nagarjuna in a dual role) some twosome about being a lovely husband and saving him from an enemy, this story follows young bangarraju’s journey through strained family ties, deception and revenge.
but bangarraju doesn’t have the easy, effortless fun of soggade… and in its attempt to keep things rather happy and entertaining, the story never scratches below the surface to explore either the brewing family discontent or the supernatural element. take, for example, the sequences showing the older bangarraju guarding the younger, accompanied by satyabhama. The young man does not remember what happened after the soul entered his body, but a friend notices his behavior changes. this thread is never explored enough to add to the drama.
The portrayal of bangarrajus as charmers ventures into tricky territory. the eldest is shown dancing with the heavenly nymphs, while the youngest has all the parents of the town’s daughters up in arms, given their flirtatious ways. in one scene, junior says he doesn’t want a woman to fall in love with him; he would rather she take a liking to him. a statement to underline that he is not an exploiter. Among the many cameo appearances of women who like him, Daksha and Faria Abdullah make his presence felt.
Part of the story, unsurprisingly, has to do with finding the right woman who can put up with the young bangarraju and his wandering eye, and perhaps fix it. the chosen one is nagalakshmi (krithi shetty), who has been rigidly opposed to him since childhood. Krithi Shetty is charming as Nagalakshmi, a character who is written as a parody of an aspiring leader who would do anything to be the center of social media attention. but aside from a scene or two, nagalakshmi’s misadventures as a sarpanch flounder.
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The film also attempts to show the other side of Bangarraju as he admits to being lonely and longing for a better bond with his nerdy father.
All of these threads of family drama, romance, and an unexplained supernatural element could have made for one enticing pot masala. but the narrative meanders aimlessly between too many songs. the real conflict in the form of an old enemy comes a little late and is too small to challenge the bangarrajus.
there’s a huge supporting cast, of which only rao ramesh, vennela kishore, brahmaji and jhansi can hardly do anything.
bangarraju’s climax has some entertaining masala moments, but the film overall ends as a pale expanse of soggade that is entertaining in parts.
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