An alcoholic and a failed cricketer, Poorna is a nuisance in his neighbourhood, burden for his father and a wound that needs to be nursed for his wife. His wound runs deep as its not physical, but an emotional trauma caused by a love story which changes him forever.
Love, heartbreak and cricket is the premise around which Shiva Nirvana builds his latest love story Majili. He builds his characters slowly around this, but for the large part of the film, there’s a lot of heartbreak and less love, while cricket is simply shown as an aside — most of it is exaggerated and flawed. Strangely enough, for a love story like Majili, there are a lot of action sequences. It seems people in Vizag, where the film is based, are willing to beat each other up at the drop of a hat. And there’s seldom any closure to all the violence. It all seemed part of a mythical ‘magic formula’ that the director was trying to find. And yet, despite all of this, Majili keeps you interested and entertained for most part of it.
The film revolves around Poorna (Naga Chaitanya), a failed cricketer, who becomes an alcoholic and borrows money from his wife Sravani (Samantha) to get his daily booze fix. He’s a nuisance to his neighbourhood and a constant source of worry to his dad (Rao Ramesh). But Sravani remains convinced that he’ll come around, that his wounds will eventually heal. Except his wounds are not physical — they are emotional ones that run so deep, it nearly destroys him. It’s a failed love story (no surprises there), involving Anshu (Divyanka Kaushik), the daughter of a naval officer (Atul Agnihotri). As a budding cricketer, Poorna falls for Anshu (in a typical, dramatic hate-turns-love situation) and just when things seem to be going smoothly, he gets involved in a rift with his captain, quits the team and decides to work for a corrupt politician Bhushan (Subbarao) instead. And just like that, one bad decision changes his life forever.
Quite often, the director seems to be in two minds and is unsure whether he wants to break stereotypes or tick every box that he thinks is needed to make the film work. In a lot of ways, the film is refreshing. Each character has depth and seems to have been nurtured with a lot of thought, the music is wonderful, and the pain of the protagonist is portrayed without turning the film into a sobfest. The director is helped by some brilliant performances from the lead cast. Samantha outshines everybody else with an understated yet powerful performance. Chaitanya seems more in his element when he’s playing the bearded, heartbroken alcoholic rather than the younger cricketer that’s shown in the flashback sequences. Rao Ramesh and Posani Murali Krishna are the ones who lift this film beyond the protagonist’s sullen love story, with terrific performances.
For all its moments of brilliance, the flaws in Majili are too glaring to ignore. For instance, the director seems to be confused about what to do with Subbbaraju’s character. First he’s shown as this evil goon. He then becomes more powerful but is then made irrelevant to the film or the plot. The film becomes a tale of two halves. From an abrupt end to one love story, it starts a new one, and it doesn’t always convince — neither does the climax. But as Majili plays out, you sympathize with the protagonist, feel his angst and relate to his pain. The film has enough in it to keep you glued to the screen, and despite the ill-timed songs and unnecessary fights, Majili is worth a watch.