My previous blog post was on Feb 24th, almost more than a month back, and much to my surprise the few who regularly read my blog called to enquire why I had stopped posting. There are times in life when life gets ahead of you and thats what happened to me. In addition, there was nothing exciting at the box office; at least nothing worth a long drive in traffic and the ticket money. And then there are times when you know for sure when you want to take a hold of your life; for me, that time was when I saw the posters of Billa featuring ‘Arundhati’ Anushka in a two-piece and the buxom Namitha. With ladies like these on the posters, it is tempting to bunk office, buy tickets in black, and sweat it out in the summer heat. So is Billa, yet another (re)remake of Don, worth the style and hype? The answer is a No, with a capital N.
Lets be clear on one thing: the Telugu Billa is not the remake of the SRK-Don, which was a re-remake of the first Don. The Telugu Billu borrows the name from the more recent Ajith starrer in Tamil titled Billa, which is remake of Rajnikanth’s Billa, which was a remake of the first Don, it is more or less faithful. I’ve honestly lost count of the remakes and their respective modifications to the story by adding really silly twists towards the climax. Billa (Prabhas) is a transnational weapons dealer (looking at the quantities he was selling I think he is into wholesale), smuggler, murderer etc whom a Grandpa-type ACP Krishna Murthy (Krishnam Raju) is after and has come all the way to Malayasia for the chase. Each has informers in either side who as usual lose their lives for silly superiors. Billa is caught one fine day only to die in the arms of ACP who burries him with the help of a Andhra tiffin center owner (Ali). Ali is curious to see the guy who gave sleepless nights to the police and on seeing the dead body is delighted to say that his friend Ranga, a petty thief in Vizag, is the exact look-alike. ACP plans to recruit and train Ranga (Prabhas) in to becoming Billa and help get all the secrets of the gang in a red pen drive (yes, ACP gives Ranga training on how to use a computer and also how to use the latest in computer technology, for Tollywood standards at least, a red pen-drive). In the mean time, ACP dies and Ranga is stuck with no proof. Finally, Ranga finds out that the Big Boss of Billa is Devil who is none other than the interpol officer who is heading the investigation. So all ends well, with Ranga settling the score with the bad guys. I didn’t forget about the two ladies because they are just there like furniture. Lisa (the voluptous, buxom, and obeese Namitha) is Billa’s girl friend and has a horrible telugu accent. She is killed when she finds out that Billa is actually Ranga (I am guessing she didnt want anything to do with the film mid-way). Maya (Anushka) is here for revenge as Billa killed her brother when he decided to leave the gang. Yup, Ranga and Maya get together at the end.
The main problem with the film is the casting and the performances. Prabhas, again, tries too hard, but this accent and tone literally kills the style he generates when he is silently doing the slow motion fashion parades with his black blazers and sunglasses. As Ranga, he repeats the flopped Bujjigaadu acting. There are times when he is totally out of style—it appears as though he is doing a cat-walk of sorts. Namitha is only there to show her fat thighs and a mini boob-show in a song sequence. Anushka is made to act like a manequin with black dresses, dark sun glasses, and always with dilated nostriles (is this style?) and keeps moving her head from left to right. There are scenes when she is showing her cleveage, cleveage Plus (a reasonable portion of her breasts), and cleveage Premium (parts of her breasts are popping out of the dress), and there are scenes when she is all zipped up and sometimes these scenes alternate. It almost looks as though the director was beggin her to show more cleveage, but Arundhati amma only agreed for so much. The bikini-act is okay, but it is all too artificial. Even though there is enough of skin-show, it just does not strike the pulse. The biggest sore point of the film is Krishnam Raju’s sorry state of acting. His extended role and presence strips the film of all it’s attempts at glamor. He is old, his usage of English is like watching a film from the 60’s or 70s, and is only there in the film because his family is producing this flick. Being Prabhas’s uncle or relative he has done more harm to Prabhas’s film than help by producing it. In fact, in the first half he totally dominates Prabhas. His attempts at comedy are pathetically bad to say the least. I pity the director as he had to put up with such a joker as producer and actor. As for director Meher Ramesh, after the dissapointing Ashok and Kantri I wonder how he gets offers to direct. In spite of claiming to have user special cameras (Super 35 I think) and stylised taking, I found nothing different or rich in this film except that we get to see Malayasia’s solid urban infrastructure. Although the film’s story drags and makes no sense for the majority of it’s run time, the pace of the film is not allowed to slow down. For the most part, the director’s interpretation of style is misconceived. Cummon now, black suits, short skirts, high heels, bikini, cleveage, dark goggles, pen-drives and slow motion—is this style and sleek? and is the new benchmark for Tollywood that the makers are claiming in their press meets? Meher Ramesh needs to take a break. However much Meher Ramesh says (check out his interview on idlebrian.com, he did the same about his previos piece of trash titled Kantri) that this film will set new standards in style or that Prabhas will become Tollywood’s super-hero; this film is below average.
The songs are average except for a couple. The last song with Anushka is the highlight; check out the butt-step where Prabhas is patting on Anushka’s butt and pulling up her shots! and Anushka’s cool get-ups. The fact of the matter is that this film has got it’s opening curiousity only because of Anushka’s two-piece act post-Arundhati’s star status. Without Anuskha this film would have fallen flat and I guess the makers of the film know this, which is why two entire lines in a song are dedicated to her star status: bommali bommali ninu vodala…There is no comedy in the film. Hansika just comes and goes. Once again Supreet as Ranjith, 2nd in command to Billa, looks great and in fact looks more don-like than Prabhas who sounds like a kid when he opens his mouth to speak. On the whole, there is too much of old man Krishnam Raju as the ACP and that wrecks the film. Story lacks the punch and the performances by the lead actors is dissapointing. Towards the end, Ranga turns back to the audience to say “I’ll be back” (I wonder whats with the Arnold lines)…does that mean there will be a sequel? Oh God no! SRK-Farhan are planning Don 2….Prabhas-Meher are planning Billa 2; can I file a PIL please against re-remakes of Don?!
Watch it only if you are dieing with curiosity about Anushka’s two-piece bikini and her exposing, and Namitha’s exposing (both of which, by the way, are nothing to rave about; thats how inept the director is in extracting glamor out of these ladies). Otherwise, just wait for this crap to come on your cable TV.
Mr. Inkenti’s Verdict: Thumbs Down. Don’t be fooled by the hype around style. This film has no punch nor substance. Prabhas looks good on posters, but on screen he is confused about his style.