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Movie Review: Om Namo Venkatesaya!
Cast: Nagarjuna, Saurabh Jain, Sai Kumar, Jagapathi Babu, Anushka, Pragya Jaiswal, Vimala Raman, Sampath Raj, Rao Ramesh, Vennela Kishore, Raghu Babu, Brahmanandam, Pruthvi and Others.
Music: MM Keeravani
Cinematography: S Gopal Reddy
Story-Screenplay: JK Bharavi
Producer: Mahesh Reddy
Director: K Raghavendra Rao
Release Date: 10th February 2017
Nagarjuna & K Raghavendra Rao had set a benchmark for devotional films with 'Annamayya', 'Sri Ramadasu' & 'Shirdi Sai'. Yet again, This crazy combination is back again for 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' which is based on the life of a devotee of Lord Venkateswara Swamy, Hathi Ram Baba. Will this new devotional flick be as memorable as the previous ones?
Ram (Nagarjuna), a student of Vedic school, have this dream of meeting the Almighty one day since childhood. Taking the advise of his Guru seriously, He starts worshipping Lord Venkateswara Swamy to fulfill his desire. Impressed with his workshop, Lord Balaji appears before him in the form of a Kid but Ram fails to recognize him. Thereafter, Ram's Parents bring the marriage proposal before him. He, however, declines it saying his life is dedicated to the God and begins his journey to Tirumala. What happens after Ram reaches the hill shrine? How did his transformation to Hathi Ram Baba happen? Do watch 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' to experience the spiritual journey!
Nagarjuna once again proves he is the best bet for devotional films. Although he wasn't up to the mark in few scenes of First Half, Viewers get mesmerized with his performance in the Latter Half. He is exceptional from the Venkateswara Kalyan episode to till the very end. People will remember his performance in the Climax for a very long time. The role of Hathi Ram Baba would remain as very memorable in the career of Tollywood King.
Saurabh Jain suited the role of Lord Venkateswara Swamy perfectly. It's not an exaggeration to say he is the best among the actors who essayed Tirumala Balaji on screen till date. The kind of physique he have has just elevated the scenes but Mr.Jain only manages to attain the pass mark as a performer. As the wives of Lord Balaji, Vimala Raman and Asmita were alright.
Anushka performed really well as Krishnamma but the song featuring her could have been avoided. Pragya Jaiswal sizzles in the song and disappears within 15 minutes. Jagapathi Babu's role appears to be a complete misfit. Even in a devotional flick, Rao Ramesh made his presence felt in a negative role with the Chittoor dialect. Sai Kumar, Sampath Raj, Raghu Babu, Pruthvi, Brahmanandam and Vennela Kishore have done justice to their roles.
Jagapathi Babu's Role
A Song featuring Anushka
Yet again, MM Keeravani stood as an asset for K Raghavendra Rao's devotional subject. Though they can't be compared to 'Annamayya', Even the tunes & background score of 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' were praise worthy. Cinematographer S Gopal Reddy made it look as if 'ONV' was really shot in Tirumala. Art Work deserve a special mention. All the Settings have been top-class. Visual Effects were good enough. Production Values were rich. As a Writer, JK Bharavi wasn't up to the high-standards set by him with 'Annamayya' & 'Sri Ramadasu' but he doesn't disappoint either. The kind of emotional-depth we found in his previous films went missing in 'ONV'. K Raghavendra Rao has once again proved there is no match to him when it comes to handling devotional subjects. We get to see his brilliance towards the end of the movie. Just alike any of KRR directorials, Picturization of all the songs were a feast for the eyes.
After two decades, Nagarjuna essayed the role of Lord Venkateswara Swamy's devotee but this time he will be seen as Hathi Ram Baba instead of Annamayya. People kept saying classics like 'Annamayya' can't be recreated and Nagarjuna has made a blunder by signing Hathi Ram Baba's biopic. 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' is a befitting reply for all those who launched negative campaign.
First things first, 'Om Namo Venkatesaya' can't be compared to 'Annamayya' but it has got it's own place. The backdrop chosen for Harthi Ram Baba's biopic is completely different to that of 'Annamayya'. So, Audience should throng the theaters with an open mind instead of drawing comparisons to experience a divine feeling.
K Raghavendra Rao succeeded in showcasing the importance of various aspects of Tirumala (be it the darshan of Varaha Murthy, Anna Prasadam, Kalyana Katta, Srivari Kalyanam on daily basis, Speciality of Srivari Uttariyam and the Nursery) beautifully. Even the life story of Hathi Ram Baba was narrated in an interesting manner. As there isn't much information about Hathi Ram Baba in the history, Makers have taken cinematic liberties and added few commercial elements to bring completeness.
Lack of Emotional Depth on par with 'Annamayya' and 'Sri Ramadasu' is the biggest drawback in 'Om Namo Venkatesaya'. Still, K Raghavendra Rao who have immense command on the visual medium makes the film worth a watch. He extracted the best output from each of his Team Members. Particularly, The face-to-face interactions of Hathi Ram Baba with Lord Venkateswara Swamy were picturized effectively. Locations, Settings and Visual Effects were appreciable. While the First Half appears quite ordinary, It's the Second Half which really involves the audience into the film. Audience will step out of the theaters with a divine feeling after watch the brilliantly executed Climax.
Bottom Line: Nag-KRR weaves magic once again!