Review: KRISHNAM VANDE JAGADGURUM is a Decent Idea Destroyed By Comically Bad CG, Terrible Lead Performance
I'll admit, once again, that I saw the film without subtitles, so my understanding of the line readings is extremely limited. But I know charisma when I see it. Of all of the films I've seen thus far this year without subs, I've come away really enjoying several, including my likely top pick of 2012, Eega. The most frequent issue with Telugu films in this regard is that the mass entertainers often rely on "powerful dialogues" to get the crowd on their side. In a good performance, the charisma of the actor can convey the overall emotion of the moment even without the literal understanding. But Daggubati spends so much of his physical energy flexing that there's not much left for emoting. He wears the same half-enraged, half-constipated expression no matter what the situation. Just watching it made me feel tired.
Luckily for Rana, the supporting cast really turns on the juice in the first half, creating a sense of false hope that this could be a really fun film. One actor playing the part of Rana's fellow performer in his acting troupe, Raghu Babu, is especially good. Babu is one of the many Telugu performers that seems to make his way into nearly every film. Typically he shows up for a comedy scene or two and is the left behind, but in KVJ, he's given a meatier part. He's still a comedy sidekick, but he also has his own dramatic moments, and even his own song -- and you haven't lived until you've seen Raghu Babu dance. Between Babu and the inevitable sketches featuring Brahmanandam, the crowd was in stitches for much of the first half. However, the film literally drives off a cliff at intermission, leaving me wishing that Daggubati's painful performance would just stop, already.
However, as awful as Rana is, his performance is arguably not the worst thing about the film. Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum features some of the worst, Birdemic-level CG I've ever seen on a big screen. In fact, it made even the Telugu audience with whom I saw the film cringe, and I know for a fact they they've seen some shitty CG. It wasn't the usual physics defying stuff that I see in south Asian films. I can get behind that and luxuriate in its absurdity, but this CG looks like it was made by an iPhone app, or maybe an animated GIF. Really brutal stuff.
Conceptually, the film has potential. It is a story of corruption and crime in high places -- nothing new really, but even old ideas can have some spark if done well. But Krishnam Vande Jagadgurum is not done well at all, and the film devolves into a mess with too many characters, too little development, and too much Rana. Yet, the performances from Babu and Brahmanandam nearly make the movie almost rewatchable... until I remember that they are both in nearly every other Telugu film out there and I like a lot of those. I can get my fix elsewhere.
Fucking terrible. Avoid.
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