"Bhola Shankar" Telugu Movie Review: Chiranjeevi's Star Power Fails to Revive Outdated Narrative

Venturing into the realm of the Telugu film "Bhola Shankar," headlined by Chiranjeevi and helmed by director Meher Ramesh, feels like taking a trip back a few decades, albeit not in a favorable manner. The movie rehashes antiquated, formulaic clichés and delivers them with the unwavering belief that the presence of stars — Chiranjeevi, Tamannaah Bhatia, and Keerthy Suresh — will suffice to redeem a lackluster storyline. Meher Ramesh, accredited for 'story development,' adapts an eight-year-old Tamil film "Vedalam," featuring Ajith, which was nothing remarkable in itself. The outcome is a concoction of a sentimental sibling bond, two-dimensional villainous personas, a leading lady designated to infuse absurd amusement yet appears utterly nonsensical, a surplus of tasteless humor, and a noisy, forgettable soundtrack.

Set in Kolkata, "Bhola Shankar" doesn't truly hinge on its setting, as beyond a sprinkling of Bengali elements, glimpses of the Hooghly bridge, and Durga puja festivities, a substantial portion appears to have been filmed on sets. Shankar (Chiranjeevi) lands in the city with his sister Mahalakshmi (Keerthy Suresh), whom he enrolls in a fine arts program, though a later mention hints at her studying architecture in college. Such details aren't meant to be retained and questioned. Her character grapples with memory loss, a reason to let certain inconsistencies slide. Meanwhile, the narrative subtly tips its hat to Chiranjeevi's earlier portrayal of another Shankar — Shankardada.

  • Cast: Chiranjeevi, Tamannaah Bhatia, Keerthy Suresh
  • Direction: Meher Ramesh
  • Music: Mahati Swara Sagar
  • Plot: A taxi driver with unsettled scores and a sister to shield.

Shankar assumes the role of a taxi driver at a company owned by Vamsi (Vennela Kishore), whose vibrant characterization and relationships with his spouse and father-in-law (Pradeep) usher in moments of campy amusement. An opening sequence incident, coupled with a character's prophecy about a savior resembling a monster, clearly signals that Shankar's facade as an ordinary individual conceals ulterior motives. The narrative swiftly transitions into a revenge-oriented trajectory, affording Chiranjeevi ample opportunities to confront numerous adversaries with gleeful fervor.

The affection shared between Shankar and Mahalakshmi exudes saccharine sweetness, with the storyline introducing Srikar (Sushanth), a benevolent addition, and Lasya (Tamannaah Bhatia), a comically inept criminal lawyer, along with her aides (Viva Harsha and Hyper Aadhi). A cameo appearance by Brahmanandam, Murali Sharma, and Tulasi later on, alongside appearances by Sreemukhi, Rashmi Gautam, and an array of comedic talents, from Venu Yeldandi to Satya, unfortunately, fails to make a lasting impression. They find themselves relegated to mere background presence in a 'Boss' production.

The 'Boss' himself grapples with a scarcity of original content. References to his past movies like "Annaya" and "Aapadbandhavudu," as well as nods to Pawan Kalyan's "Kushi" and Ram Charan's "Rangasthalam," saturate the narrative with nostalgia, yet this nostalgia falls flat in the absence of a compelling storyline that triggers emotional resonance. Despite the themes of trafficking and looming peril for a key character, the narrative fails to forge a connection with the viewer.

Shankar's characterization hovers on the surface, a departure from the original portrayal of Ajith as a cunning ruffian ready to pursue any means for monetary gain, with his transformation not arriving with ease. In contrast, Shankar's character, tailored to accommodate Chiranjeevi's larger-than-life persona, refrains from fully embracing his morally complex facets. Consequently, his transformation lacks impact.

Following the revelation of the revenge-driven motives, the movie descends into a series of confrontations. Shankar's encounters with Shawar Ali, Tarun Arora, and other caricatured villains involve unimaginative action sequences interspersed with forgettable songs.

Enduring the 160-minute runtime becomes an arduous endeavor. Both Chiranjeevi and Keerthy Suresh have showcased superior performances in their careers. To a certain extent, Tamannaah appears to relish her eccentric character portrayal.

It's about time Chiranjeevi engages with fresh, contemporary narratives that align with the current era and embraces his age. The accomplished actor-star warrants a reinvention, even while fan service could benefit from innovation.

"Bhola Shankar" is presently showing in theaters.