K Raghavendra Rao’s Om Namo Venkatesaya (2017) Movie Review

Survi Review Hathiram Om Namo Venkatesaya.

Cast: Nagarjuna Akkineni, Anushka Shetty, Jagapathi Babu, Surabh Jain, Pragya Jaiswal, Vimala Raman, Aditya Menon, Brahmanandam, and Ashmitha.
Directed by K Raghavendra Rao
Music Composed by M M Keeravani
Cinematography by S Gopal Reddy
Edited by Gautam Raju
Runtime: 144 Minutes
Censor Certificate: U

It’s always good to learn something that you don’t know through the visual medium. It is great learn that there was a holy man Hathiram Baba from Nagaur – who turns out to be an ardent devotee of Lord Venkatesa and seeing his devotion Lord in disguise spreads the word “Bakthude Bagavanthudi Kanna Ekkuva”! It is also awesome to know that this is an open secret in Tirupathi. Whether or not it was true or has sound grounds is a matter of debate that is beyond this review. In either case, it just matters not which region Hathiram belonged to nor does it matter what made Hathiram so committed to see God. But the point of Om Namo Venkatesaya seems to be to say, In those order less times, a man rectifies Tirupathi and turns into preacher to make every devotee understand the importance of Lord Balaji’s scriptures. Not to mention that the film takes over 140 minutes to come to that point.

Writer J K Bharavi have taken this fascinating annotate and created a fanciful and largely conventional fiction around it. Nomad Rama (Nagarjuna) is an ardent devotee of the Lord Balaji and stays in Tirupathi, to re-establish the right order, creates a financial system and curbs the black marketing done by Govindarajulu (Rao Ramesh). Impressed by his devotion and reforms God himself comes to play Ludo with Rama. How was Ram entitled as Hathiram, What made Hathiram undergo Jeeva Samadhi forms the rest of the storyline. Do you know, Hathiram Math is the first trust built on the Kaliyuga Vaikuntam.

The basic storyline had nothing new to offer and stressing on nothing I mean to say, any devotee’s story is majorly based on the testing done by Paramathma. Once they attain the affection of the Lord, they become eternal. But Hathiram baba is a devotee who attained the affection of Lord at a very young age, but couldn’t understand it in the first. These kind of sequences and scenes do add credibility to the whole story, but at the same time the director and writer just focus on making it colorful and adding few witty lines to the exchanges as they miss the soul with each and every scene. K Raghavendra Rao is the best director still when it comes to presenting a visually pleasing scene, but somehow he lost the emotional connectivity as his previous two films Shirdi Sai and Pandurangadu show.

In Annamayya, the basic emotional connectivity was so pure and heartfelt that even the Nasthikudu, was forced to fall in love with devotion that Annamayya developed over the period of time being a very flat story, that movie was still able to generate such emotion, that you felt like hugging Annamayya and touch his feet for his Baktithatvam, Rachana Pravinayam and Ankitha Bhavam. Here Hathiram Baba even though a great person, has all the qualities to be considered as a great devotee, still J K Bharavi’s vision, he seems to go effortlessly unconnectable character. There are several issues with the way story expands with each passing scene, without giving us good enough conclusion. When I say conclusion, I don’t mean climax of the movie. To each scene there will be start-middle-end adding purpose to the next scene. It is here, that J K Bharavi alters.

I would to ask Raghavendra Rao sir and J K Bharavi sir two things, what was the definitive push that made Ram at tender age leave his home and then when his determination and life goal provokes him to just see god, why had he gave up on the dream to settle down with his parents. Just because some Bala came and disturbed his dedicated Thapasu why should he leave his desire. That Bala became Bala”ji” and that entire sequence, just provides us an answer. Why Hathiram Baba called Venkateswara “Balaji”. Unless and unless you are a devotee yourself you don’t want know answers for some trivial questions, you want to know the journey. But when journey seems to be lackluster, how can I connect to a person just because he loves someone whom I worship. When Hathiram himself was undermined like this, what kind of explanation can Krishnamma expect. Just because you know Godha Devi’s Kalyana Charitra doesn’t make Krishnamma a Godha Devi.

The climax of the movie, even though I don’t wanna reveal it (Spoilers ahead). I have to, to make this question appear feasible. How come Balaji just ran behind his ultimate devotee, when he knew what would be the result of his previous move (Bagavanthudi Kanna Bhakthude Goppodu). What purpose did the preclimax sequence and the climax served.

Kiran Kumar Manne does an exceptional job in the budget provided and his set of temple was stupendous. M M Kreem once again proves, he is a boss, when it comes to delivering gripping BGM for the scenes and give devotional moves a soul. Editing by Gautham Raju and Cinematography by S Gopal Reddy are in tone with the movie.

Nagarjuna once again proves that he fits the devotional bill to the T. His dialogue delivery and eyes are the best in this movie, compared to his previous films. But script fails him miserably. Anushka Shetty, the yoga teacher needs to get fit or quit. Jagapathi Babu, Rao Ramesh, Raghu Babu, Brahmanandam, Ajay, Sampath, Pavithra Lokesh, Vimala Raman, Ashmitha were just okay. Sourabh Raj Jain is a great find when it comes to acting, but lack of lipsync undermines his performance.

In conclusion, I would say KRR and JKB were the main culprits to the efforts of Technical crew and Nagarjuna. As these people has given life to it, they take it away with ridiculous precision. One feels like watching a showreel of a young visual director, who is sound in shot division but lacks in any emotional depth in his screenplay. You can watch the movie, only and only if you are a devotee or otherwise play Annamayya DVD for the nth time.

Survi Review: 2/5

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