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Bhagavanth Kesari: A fan pleasing entertainer with a strong dose of feminism

Anil Ravipudi moves away from his regular style of filmmaking and delivers a moving emotional drama. At certain points the film reminds you of Dangal

By

Prabhatha Rigobertha

October 20, 2023

Anil Ravipudi is a director who has been successful in making commercial potboilers that are high on entertainment. The director is known for creating characters that come with specific mannerisms resulting in slapstick humour.

However in Bhagavanth Kesari the director opts for a different route. Anil Ravipudi’s brand of humour is absent for most part except for a few scenes involving Kajal Aggarwal. Here he has written and directed a story that has elements which will both satisfy Balakrishna fans and also give a social message through the character of Sreeleela.

Sreeleela’s breakthrough moment

Bhagavanth Kesari (Nandamuri Balakrishna) an ex police officer is the foster father of Vijji (Sreeleela). After her biological father C I Srikanth (R. Sarathkumar) dies in an accident he takes on her responsibilities. As a young child Vijji meets Bhagavanth when he was a prisoner in a jail where her father worked. Bhagavanth feels an emotional connection with her right from the beginning.

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Vijji’s mother wanted to join the army but she had sacrificed her dreams. Srikanth feels guilty about coming in the way of his wife’s dreams. His biggest wish was to see Vijji joining the army. Here Anil Ravipudi doesn’t use the army angle to evoke patriotic feelings: it is more for Vijji to overcome her anxiety attacks and become a resilient young woman.

Rahul Sanghvi (a Dashing Arjun Rampal) is a power hungry tycoon who firmly goes by the philosophy of Charles Darwin’s survival of the fittest. Rahul and Bhagavanth have a bitter past that resurfaces – the usual template between a hero and villain. In a nutshell the story is about how Vijji emerges as a strong woman both physically and mentally and how Bhagavanth helps her to achieve it.

Stars of the movie

The biggest USP of Bhagavanth Kesari is easily the emotional drama between Bhagavanth and Vijji. Bhagavanth is someone who firmly believes that girls need to be raised like lions and this clearly shows in how he pushes her to do certain things. Vijji’s interests lie more in marrying the love of her life. In these portions Bhagavanth’s attitude reminds the viewers of Aamir Khan’s Mahavir Singh Phogat.

There is a scene where VIjji’s boyfriend comes with his father for the marriage proposal. The prospective father-in-law has a very dismissive attitude of Bhagavanth’s aspirations regarding Vijji. He says that it’s enough that Vijji becomes a good housewife and mother. Bhagavanth gets angry and kicks him, a typical Balakrishna gesture. Naturally Vijji gets annoyed and starts treating Bhagavanth as a stranger. As viewers we empathize with both these characters.

Anil Ravipudi also makes some important points about good touch and bad touch through a rousing monologue by Balakrishna. Here again the emphasis is on how girls should be raised courageous like lions.

Arjun Rampal exudes the right amount of swag and ruthlessness

Bhagavanth Kesari benefits immensely from the performances of Balakrishna and Sreeleela. Balakrishna delivers a mature performance without going overboard in the emotional scenes. The actor’s Telangana diction is also commendable. Of course he satisfies his fans in the flashback portions where he plays to the gallery. There is an important passage in the film’s pre climax when Bhagavanth lets Vijji do all the fighting for a particular reason. Both Anil Ravipudi and Balakrishna need to be given credit for how they let Sreeleela take the center stage.

Known for her glamour roles Sreeleela springs a very pleasant surprise with her performance. The actress does a wonderful job in showcasing the transition of Vijji. She also proves to be a good action heroine convincingly taking on the baddies. Arjun Rampal as the antagonist exudes the right amount of swag and ruthlessness. It is a not a very innovative character but Arjun makes it work.

Anil Ravipudi, the director known for creating characters that come with specific mannerisms resulting in slapstick humour

One of the threads that don’t quite work is the one featuring Kajal, his love interest. She plays a supposed psychiatrist. Her track doesn’t quite jell with the narrative. Another mild issue with the film is the flashback of Bhagavanth Kesari that glorifies his brutal methods.

Bhagavanth Kesari is a welcome break from Balakrishna’s hyper masculine Akhanda and Veera Simha Reddy; A welcome sign of his transition from macho hero to father hero.

Also read: Jaane Jaan: Another compelling thriller from Sujoy Ghosh

Prabhatha Rigobertha
Prabhatha Rigobertha
Rigobertha Prabhatha has been writing on movies, web series, books, etc. on social media platforms like Facebook for a few years. He has a YouTube channel "prabhathalovesmovies" in which he posts video reviews. "I have only two windows to my world - movies and books" reads it's tagline. He is a student of English literature and currently working as Content Writer at Pudami Publications based in Hyderabad.

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