Sir / Vaathi: Imitation is Art
Star Cast: Dhanush, Samyuktha Menon, Sai Kumar, Tanikella Bharani, Samuthirakani, Hyper Aadhi, Aadukalam Naren, Motta Rajendran, and Hareesh Peradi. Dhanush Sir Review
Music Composed by G V Prakash Kumar
Edited by Naveen Nooli
Directed by Venky Atluri
When I saw the trailer cut for Sir / Vaathi and saw the get-up of Subramania Bharati, I just did not get where Venky Atluri is tending to go with it. Is he trying to showcase Bharathi being the ultimate Vaathi / Teacher educating his “Old Students” in a way, disciplining them and showing them what is right? Or Is it to use the great Vaathi’s image to equate a commercial hero in the name of elevation? Just like how Mahesh Babu in Sarileru Neekevvaru  has been equated to Alluri Seetharama Raju because he is Superstar Krishna’s son. I am afraid he did not go for both. While the thought process might have been that in one shot he is hitting two birds – giving elevation and metaphorically stating that ultimate Vaathi has come to discipline these thugs who are trying to commercialise education. But using Subramania Bharati has a disguise that Hero wears to take his students to the examination center and fight, but it just doesn’t serve any purpose that too after he wears Ravana Bramha get-up, Veerapandya Kattabommanna get-up, and Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy get-up. It just seems random and serves no purpose. That too, when the writer-director doesn’t even try to use some dialogue or exchange to go for that metaphor/ elevation. It is all up to you, the viewers to decode and decide. Maybe as he is going for a movie that talks about Sir / Vaathi, he seems to have decided it is better to dismiss class of students after giving them Homework. But he just left entire movie to be decoded by audiences and did not add his touch or purpose to guide us where to look and what, how. Maybe that is the reason, this Sir/ Vaathi remains distant and not close to our hearts.
Why? you may ask…
—— Spoiler Alert ——–
The answer to this question is not that elaborate. Most of you might have already guessed after watching Venky Atluri’s movies like Tholi Prema , Mr. Majnu , Rang De , that this writer-director derives his ideas from old classics and tries to give his touch. It is not wrong. After-all everyone does that but when you see a film like Nayakan – inspired or derived from Godfather, you think the director of the movie has said his own tale and his own scenes with his own vision but in a popular template that Godfather has created on the big screen. When you see a film like Shiva  – even though it is again about an underdog hero rising against social evil, you feel the director has a vision, has his own taste and his own take. Venky Atluri impressed many viewers with Tholi Prema , because he showed a potential to re-imagine old tale in a new style and flair. He did not come up with great storyline but handled it with a certain maturity and tried to give us a fresh feel of romance. Then later he did Mr. Majnu and Rang De, proving that Tholi Prema is a one-off. He found an even better actor and a popular star with a huge potential market like Dhanush. He tried to leap out of his comfort zone but he did not come out of his old practices. Trying to find a template that suits your story or commercializes your script is good but not preferable for every story or every screenplay. You cannot imitate every time as you need better imagination to compel viewers to watch a movie that has the same old commercial template story and doesn’t want to leave some cliches at all, as they work.
Cliche No.1: Hero at first expresses a desire to grow beyond his economical status.
Cliche No.2: The Student who is highly talented and extremely reclusive.
Cliché No.3: Caste dispute and Parents in Villages thinking work yields more results than studies.
Cliché No.4: Villain doesn’t give in or never realises anything.
Cliche No.5: Villain can never be stronger than a Hero.
Cliche No.6: Give classes/ speeches as a message from commercial hero as it will make it socially relevant.
Cliche No.7: Even though everyone knows everything, they change only when Hero arrives and says a few words. Swades  tried to show that hero’s actions, like bringing electricity to the village, have changed the villager’s perception and his perception too. In Kalam Marindi , K. Viswanath tried his best to showcase how untouchability and casteism are bringing down society. Change happens with hero actions, not by words.
Cliche No.8: Hero falls in love with Heroine at first sight.
Cliché No.9: Hero gives up after a hurdle and again one line gives him motivation.
Cliché No.10: Drama Begins where Logic Ends.
While the 10th one is agreeable to an extent and films like Dhamaka , Pathaan  and Waltair Veerayya in recent times have proved that people don’t mind logic when they get their quota of entertainment. Here, it is from a hero who did Asuran , Karnan , Pudupettai , Vada Chennai , Vela Illa Pattadhari, or Raghuvaran B.Tech kind of blockbusters with a purpose. In, Asuran after all the action hero tells his kid that only education can save that from this caste nexus, and that feels relevant and strong because we connect with the character and not the actor. It is not Dhanush saying it but it is Sivaswamy. Here, since it is Dhanush, so Saikumar even though has been president-elect for three times, that too, unanimous and has a huge grip on Panchayat, loses easily to him. Since it is Dhanush, Police Officer even though corrupt and egoistic, changes in a second. Since it is Dhanush, he gets an idea like Byju‘s 22-25 years ago. Since it is Dhanush and Venky Atluri saw Super 30  and Badi Panthulu , 45+1 students get top ranks. And Since it is Venky Atluri, Government doesn’t try to suggest that from Government College, students got ranks. Since it is Venky Atluri, Dhanush cannot go and try to win over this educationalist mafia leader by going to a political rival. Since it is Venky Atluri, this educationalist claims a shallow victory with all his might but fails to keep a tab on Dhanush, when he leaves for Ooty.
Hero in this film needed to choose his destiny of going and running a school in Ooty, and should not have been forced. If Venky Atluri thought that it is the choice of hero, then he should have made it clear from the second half starting. The motivation to run his own school with his own principles without monetary issues should have come from the personal humiliation, he felt. The idea of not being present in the village and yet being able to create an impact should have been the kind of message he delivers to his students as well that creating an impact is possible no matter, who you are and what you do. But students who have become part of the government or administration, IAS officer, don’t try to challenge the system or try to make copies of the video cassettes to help the needy rather than keeping them hidden for years, even people in the neighboring districts don’t have any idea about the renovated theatre and their welfare program and we fail to understand why. Like this, there are many loopholes to count on and the message is not clear, even though it is simple. Don’t make Education a business and let everyone get it. In the day and age of Google, when self-learning is easy, telling the importance of a good lecturer/ teacher/ Sir/ Vaathi/ Madam would have served a better purpose than this.
As per performances Dhanush almost sleep-walked through the movie. He proved that he can do much better in many simple commercial films too. He just tried to imitate his Vaathi – Venky Atluri, one feels so. Samyuktha Menon is good in many shots but she needs to work on dialogue delivery in Telugu. Hyper Aadi has been wasted. Samuthirakani again found himself in a character like in Thunivu, where he is neither there nor here. The kind of actor he is, he needs much better scenes to show the impact. Music by GV Prakash Kumar felt like he also imitated SS Thaman to serve the taste of the director. Still, Vaa Vaathi/ Mastaru song feels like it is GV Prakash the composer, after all. The cinematography and production design are apt but the editing is confusing. The editing pattern tries to ask people to show more interest in scenes that could have been trimmed while in those scenes that needed elaboration, uses dissolve to black more for build-up. Maybe he is asked to imitate KGF Chapter 2 for build-up shots. On the whole, right from actor Dhanush to the editor, everyone followed the pattern of writer-director, who seems to believe – Imitation is Art.
Theatrical Trailer: Dhanush Sir Review
Dhanush Sir Review