Nandamuri Kalyan Ram's latest Film MLA - Manchi Lakshanalunna Abbayi is a mass entertainer that sticks to the commercial template. It is fun in parts but ends up as a routine fare.
What is it about?
Kalyan (Kalyan Ram) falls in love with Indu (Kajal), who is already engaged to Gadappa (Ravi Kishan), a sitting MLA. Kalyan comes to convince Indu's father to cancel the engagement. Her father wants MLA as the son in law and asks Kalyan to contest as MLA and win to marry Indu. How Kalyan takes on the sitting MLA using his intelligence concludes the story.
Kalyan Ram has gone for a stylish makeover and pulled off this character with ease. He is particularly impressive in the confrontation scenes with Ravi Kishan, who repeats his act from Race Gurram. Kajal Agarwal has a limited role to play and she is alright. Posani Krishna Murali's comedy is aimed at the masses. Brahmanandam's lengthy episode is fun. Prudhvi takes care of entertainment in the second hour.
Upendra Madhav's story and screenplay lacks novelty. He did his best to narrate it in an entertaining way. He doesn't make any special impression as a director. He simply follows the commercial template not just in storytelling but also the filmmaking.
Mani Sharma's music is strictly average. A couple of songs are okay, but it is not an impressive work from the veteran. Cinematography is good. Editing is fine. Dialogues are impressive. Production values are grand.
Cliched second half
First half of MLA is decent with enough entertainment and fun episodes. There is a twist in the tale at the interval and it moves to the political backdrop in the second half. Director who has maintained steady graph till interval loses grip post interval with a shoddy second hour. Protagonist taking up the challenge of becoming MLA makes it a predictable one as we can easily guess what's in store.
A complete stranger and an outsider contesting elections and becoming an MLA is told in the most convenient way. The protagonist hardly faces any hurdles in his aim to become an MLA. He does good deeds in the village to win the hearts of people, while the villain comes up with most ridiculous counter attacks. One would expect an intelligent game between hero and villain in political setup, but the villain is a no match to hero in every way. The protagonist's journey to success is a cake walk, thus making MLA a tedious fare.
Comedy works in bits and pieces, but it is not strong enough to ignore the weaknesses of the film. Fights are over the top and music is mediocre. Commercial films need good action part, music and other elements to keep the audience entertained. Only thing that is impressive about the film is its dialogue. Upendra Madhav did a good job as a dialog writer, but fails as a screenplay writer.
Film goers have been rejecting such template commercial films lately. Even big stars are not able to pull off such routine fare nowadays. Expecting Kalyan Ram to make this routine fare work is a big ask. The actor did his best and came up with flawless performance, but there is not much anybody could do with such a predictable script. MLA may appeal to an extent to audience that watches masala entertainers. It has chances to click in B and C centers. On a whole, it is just an average film with some fun moments here and there.
Verdict: Average Abbay!