The tossup for the Sunday Telugu movie was between Goodachari and Srinivasa Kalyanam. We wanted it to be the typical “Telugu feel good” movie as we hadn’t watched a Telugu movie on a large screen in a long time.
We hadn’t heard much of Goodachari, while the songs of Srinivasa Kalyanam – specifically – Modalaudaam, Ithadena – were viewed on repeat on YouTube. We hadn’t heard much about the actors in Goodachari, while the actors in Srinivasa Kalyanam were well known. In fact, we got to know about Goodachari only when looking for tickets. Only a few rows of the hall were filled for Goodachari while Srinivasa Kalyanam was almost house full with the first row fast filling. However, Goodachari had 88% liking from ~82k votes, while Srinivasa Kalyanam had 71% liking from ~38k votes. A quick check of Friday papers and multiple reviewers had praised Goodachari as a nice spy thriller, something you don’t see that often in Telugu cinema. So, at the last moment, we decided to book tickets for it.
Goodachari starts off okay-ish with a long buildup where a young Arjun is made to change his identity to protect him from an unknown entity, a member of which, takes the life of his father who is part of a secretive intelligence agency. Then follow sequences to show the desperation of the protagonist – Arjun (Adivi Shesh) – to enter any of India’s elite intelligence services. Arjun finally gets to join an elite secret service agency called Trinetra after the n-th online application just because he mentions that his father was a former RAW agent. If only getting into one was so easy! On the first day itself the trainees are told about a terrorist group called Al Mujahideen and its leader Rana. Then follow a series of training sequences where Arjun picks up various skills doubly quickly. Around the same time enters Sameera (Shobhita Dhulipala) as a neighbor. How convenient! It’s love at first sight between them. Sameera helps Arjun overcome a mental block to ace the program. On the graduation day, Arjun is framed for assassinating the top two people behind Trinetra. So far so good.
The rest of the story is about how Arjun unravels the plot and redeems himself. And this is where the story falls flat. That’s because this plot happens to be centered around Arjun and his family. Turns out that Rana of Al Mujahideen is actually the father of Arjun. He kills off half a dozen people, including Sameera, so that all doors close on Arjun and that only option left for him is to leave the country with Rana. Ridiculous, isn’t it?
The movie reminds you of quite a few Hollywood spy thrillers. The first set of sequences at the agency, reminded me of Kingsman and MIB. The invisible branding during graduation ceremony reminded me of Hitman. I also though about the Bourne and the James Bond series. If that was the intention, it probably succeeds. But Adivi Shesh is no match for Matt Damon, Will Smith, Timothy Oliphant, any of the Bond’s or even Taron Egerton. He has a physique (something about his legs) that is very un-spy like and neither does he have the acting chops. Shobhita Dhulipala is too ‘runway modelish’ and totally unconvincing both as the girl next door and a spy. Both these could have been overlooked if the story was well written. But giving a family twist (a very Tollywood thing) to a spy movie – I definitely didn’t see that one coming. That’s where the movie fails.