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Family Star: This reunion of Geeta Govindam team leaves the viewers with a bitter aftertaste

The subject matter of celebrating a middle class hero is laudable but Parashuram Petla’s execution leaves a lot to be desired. Vijay Devarakonda brings his usual earnestness but that is not enough to salvage the film

By

Prabhatha Rigobertha

March 6, 2024

Out of the eight films that Parashuram has directed Geeta Govindam remains his best. Sure in hindsight it does look like a project to alter the image of Vijay Devarakonda post the hugely polarized Arjun Reddy. Having said that Geeta Govindam was a charming romantic comedy with many enjoyable moments, in spite of Vijay Devarakonda’s recent box office failures there were certain expectations from Family Star given how Geeta Govindam had fared. The music director of that film Gopi Sundar is the composer of this one too. Leading lady Mrunal Thakur has had a terrific start to her career in Telugu with two back to back successes in author backed parts. Unfortunately Family Star is a slog for most part in spite of having a subject that can make for an entertaining commercial movie.

Vijay Devarakonda plays Govardhan who comes from a middle class background. He is single handedly keeping the joint family afloat. Govardhan is also quite a miser. For example there is an amusing scene where he makes very thin dosas of different shapes to ensure that the dough lasts longer. Ravi Prakash often seen in Krish Jagarlamudi’s films is an elder brother nursing past wounds. He is a regular drinker entangled in the web of alcohol. Vasuki is the long suffering wife who puts up with her husband’s drunkenness. Govardhan feels that his words are the reason behind the elder brother turning into an alcoholic. So he just puts up with his brother’s behavior before the dam finally bursts. Another brother is struggling to establish his own business.

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At this time you have the arrival of a postgraduate student Indu (Mrunal Thakur). She integrates herself slowly into the family and soon love blossoms between her and Govardhan. However there is a twist in a tale just before the interval, a secret about Indu is revealed that severs their relationship. Govardhan feels cheated and decides to keep himself away from her. The rest of the story is about how the reconciliation happens when Govardhan is forced to work with her by circumstances.

Vijay Devarakonda and Rohini Hattangadi

The positives in Family Star can be counted on fingers and Vijay Devarakonda’s performance is one of them. In spite of the exaggerated middle class quirks Vijay pulls of a wonderful act. Vijay conveys a range of emotions from aggression, simplicity and stinginess in an admirable manner. He stands out particularly in the emotional scenes.

Vijay’s scenes with Mrunal are quite charming in the first half. Particularly the portions where Indu calls Govardhan ‘yevandi’, something flutters in Govardhan’s heart whenever she calls him that.  Mrunal Thakur’s Indu has two shades. In the first half she is a girl next door, in the later half we see Indu as a CEO who has a tough exterior with a compassionate nature. Mrunal does a good job in portraying both the shades.

Among the sprawling supporting cast veteran actress Rohini Hattangadi as the grandma is the only one who makes an impression. Her scenes with Vijay have been well written and are adorable to watch.

A major problem with Family Star is the superfluous writing. This comes out in a very glaring manner in the way the family members have been written except for Rohini Hattangadi. The discord between Vijay and Ravi Prakash’s character and why the elder brother is so neck deep in alcoholism is way too patchy and does not make any sense. What makes this scenario even more baffling is Govardhan’s self guilt about how he considers himself responsible for the elder brother’s downfall.

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The redemption of Ravi Prakash’s character and the eventual reconciliation feels like more of an afterthought with extreme superficiality. The other brother played by Raja Chembolu has even less to do. His aspirations of opening own business feels like an unnecessary add on to increase the burden of Govardhan.

Family Star reminds the viewers of Geeta Govindham in more ways than one but not in a pleasant manner. For example here it is the hero who mistakes the girl’s intention and considers her to be a bad woman. There is a lot of ego tussle however unlike that film this movie has no soul. Often times Family Star feels like a lifeless imitation of that movie.

The US part in particular test the viewer’s patience. For example there is a scene where Vijay’s Govardhan is mistaken for a male prostitute. Cringe worthy would be an understatement to describe the entire scenario.

Vijay Devaraakonda calls his father Devarakonda Govarhana Rao his ‘Family Star.’

Another example of the extreme bad writing can be seen in the portions involving Ravi Babu as a loan shark who misbehaves with Vasuki’s character and asks her to sleep with him if the debt is not cleared; this happens in the first half. As excepted there is a mass sequence where Govardhan brings the entire family to Ravi Babu’s place in an auto. He breaks heads and beats men to pulp. The children look traumatized but Govardhan insists them to watch and learn from him on how to deal with bullies. What makes this sequence even worse is the final punch that Govardhan delivers to the bad guy. He threatens the villain with a rape threat involving the women of antagonist’s household.

Gopi Sundar’s music while not as good as Geeta Govindam does have its moments. A couple of songs do work “Nandanandana” and “Kalyani Vacha Vachaa”,

The idea of raising a toast to the star of every middle class family is admirable but the execution makes it yawn inducing.

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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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