Actors: Mahesh Babu, Kajal Agarwal, Prakash Raj, Nasar, Sayaji Shinde, Dharmavarapu Subramaniam
Genre: Masala
Rating: 3/5

You understand the meaning of this gesture, yes? Good. Else you are not going to get half the dialogues; or monologues to be precise. This pre-requisite established, this story makes an observation of a business opportunity not fully and legally tapped in India. No, really. The story and screenplay are by Puri Jagannath, and (obviously) mafia forms the nucleus of the plot. Based in Mumbai start to end, the story is about protagonist Surya (Mahesh Babu) vying to establish a mafia ‘empire’ to organize crime under the brand ‘Surya Exports & Imports’, which is staffed by petty salaried criminals who undertake ‘settlements’ among individuals all over the country. What’s mafia about this, one may ask. Revenue generation for this business is via the age-old Indian phillum model of the hafta and/or extortion money, so there you go. This organization also has a mission. Shudder! The idea is to pump so much money into this organization that elections and candidates could be based on Surya’s recommendation. Ask no question.

At a certain point in the film, Nasar goes to Mahesh Babu, “Ippatiki varaku intha kasi tho pani chese vaadini choodaledu” or something to this effect. You would say that too given this constant expression on Mahesh’s face. How else would one know he’s the mafia chief no? Given that Surya is THE character Mahesh Babu has played for the last 5 years, his performance is near perfect. What makes Surya is Mahesh’s subtle humour, Telugu diction, action andstunts, charm with the ladies, his steadily declining ability to dance and ability to demonstrate exactly how to ask to go to the restroom. But in all seriousness, Surya is what most Mahesh fans would like to see and he delivers. Kajal Agarwal as Chitra plays Surya’s love interest. I haven’t read (Idlebrain) Jeevi’s review, but “Kajal is same” is all he must have said about her. For once I’ll agree with the brevity of his statement. Kajal seemed more comfortable in front of the camera, and has good chemistry with Mahesh. Kajal is not necessarily very fashionable as Chitra, but the beach song-videos have her in skimpy clothing, if you will.

Prakash Raj as Jaidev, the MP does not offer anything new. Jaidev is a typical filmy politico with cruel intentions and Prakash Raj cracks it in the limited screen-time he gets. Again, Jaidev is something Prakash Raj has mastered. If anything, he could have tried a new regional accent/dialect or a new look to bring out some variance. Nasar as the proverbial strict officer/stern Police Commissioner of Mumbai and Chitra’s dad, is a character merely present to move the screenplay along (his character practically causes all directional changes in the story) and as such Nasar’s acting is passive and only so impressive without any specific mannerisms or dialogues to remember. Dharmavarapu Subramaniam is the comical relief and for a change, comedy in the film is situational and is accompanied without any hamming; primarily with Dharmavarapu’s facial expressions.

Coming from Director Puri J, Businessman has all the necessary masala elements, but the story has a definitive direction. Finally a Telugu film has a disclaimer at the beginning that the characters speak in Telugu although the story is set in Mumbai. There is concerted effort to make the story the star of the film, by not focusing only on the hero. Of course Mahesh is plastered all over, but Puri has tried to entertain via dialogues, songs, action and comedy. But then he’s also tried to narrate a story. What can help is giving other characters more importance, but this has been the bigger Tollywood issue that will take aeons to fix, agree? No? Never mind. Screenplay by Puri is one of the weaker pillars of the film. Yes there is a story, but there are some superfluous scenes that only aim to display Surya’s power, and sequences that could portray Surya’s rise to power are underplayed, are illogically handled or made to pass off headily. Eg. Robbing rich kids using a police constable’s help, Dharavi’s slum-dwellers getting back their properties with Surya’s help, politicians winning seats, etc are like a montage rather than explained events. If these scenes were actually shot, not including them or adding adequate detail are grave editing errors. Also to note, the creepy-faced girl who plays Kajal’s friend and her anglicized Telugu dubbing, are both maha irritiating wasting valuable screen-time.

Tollywood audiences have come to like backstories, so Jaidev emerging out of nowhere, and Surya’s motivation to usurp all power being attributed to a flashback, all seem to fit. Everything fits, to the effect that a politician going to a mafia chief ‘nee power ento chupinchu’ in the climax is actually a call for a 1:1 fist-fight, even in 2012. Indian cinema is generally larger than life, and Puri knows this well. There will probably be no questions asked that Surya does what he does (incl a few murders here and there), towards a worthy goal, because the only tenet that holds true for the average Indian movie-goer, or so thinks the Director, is the end justifies the means always. Cinematography by Shyam K Naidu is commendable. Most scenes are outdoor and the foreign picturesque locales like European cobblestone streets, pristine turquoise beaches, Thai temples, etc. add to the rich visuals. Mumbai although hasn’t been shot very well, except the local train tracks or long shots of the Dharavi slums. The action scenes definitely get a boost with Shyam’s work, second only to the song videos.

Why 3/5:
The good: Mahesh Babu, Kajal as eye-candy, somewhat engaging story in the second half, stunts, cinematography
The bad: Loose screenplay, average music (The video of song Sir osthara is funny at best, hijacking the purported sensuality of bikini/sarong clad Kajal and phirang models ), Mahesh’s dance (reminds of Superstar Krishna from his final movies as a hero).

4 Responses to “Businessman”
  1. Uday says:

    Towards the end, the movie reminded me of Puli, a little. There were too many punch dialogues. One of the last dialogues is “nenu bratikite India ni *gesture*”, so there is scope for a sequel.

  2. VARSHA says:

    Not sure why Mahesh Babu plays the same character over and over again. So its not just Kajal but also mahesh babu who is same. Being a Mahesh Babu fan, i would not give 3/5 to this movie. He definitely needs a change! I agree with you that even though the story was mumbai based, there were not enough scenes showcasing mumbai.

  3. This movie helps every Aspiring writer/Director on how (not) to make a movie With just 10-15 dialogues(Punch). If this guy is intending to make the same crap in Hindi, i really pity the Producer. Adding to the silly storyline are the unneccesary profanities in the dialogues. Its time Prince reads the entire script before he acts in the movie.

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  1. […] to have jumped the gun to shoulder a product such as this. There are shades of Tagore, Basha and Businessman in this film, but notice  the actors in those films, and the time in their acting careers at which […]

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