I know Beth has discussed masala hubris before - and I'm not too proud to say that I was a victim. Masala hubris is the (mistaken) belief that one is no longer capable of having one's mind blown by masala excellence.
"Oh, if Magadheera didn't completely fry my brain than certainly nothing else can," I so arrogantly thought before popping Yamadonga into the DVD player.
DANCE-OFF IN HELL FEATURING THIS OUTFIT!
NATIONAL AWARD WINNER PRIYAMANI IN A GIANT HAMSTER BALL!
THIS BOY IS HILARIOUS!
Welcome to Yamadonga!
Perhaps I should preface this by saying that I've never seen a Jr NTR film before and had no idea what to expect from him. As I turns out, he's got a very commanding screen presence - and switches from comedy to drama to action pretty nimbly. Unlike some other heroes, Jr NTR seems very light-hearted and even in his serious scenes, he always looked like he was having the time of his life. I don't even know who I could compare him to in Bollywood - maybe a young Shammi Kapoor comes closest.
The plot is extremely involved and not particularly worth going into because I'm hoping you will all go out and immediately rent it from Netflix but here is a brief rundown of what you are getting into.
A lonely little girl is given a charmed necklace and told that it will bring her luck (and spoiler alert - it totally does!) One day she is riding on a merry-go-round and a little boy saves her from a broken horse!
(These kids were really charming, unlike most filmi children! How did they do it?!)
She doesn't know that he only pulled her onto his horse because the fuzz was on his tail and she gives him the charmed necklace to thank him.
Fast forward "12" years and we're at a magic show!
OH NO!! A TIGER!
YAY! IT'S A TIGER!
(Apparently, Jr NTR lost quite a bit of weight before this film, which explains why there were a few instances of him fitting through tiny spaces in the first big fight scene.)
So, yes, "12" years later Jr NTR is now playing Raja, the thief with the heart of gold.
And Priyamani has become a servant in her own home! Her greedy relatives moved in as soon as her grandfather died and put her to work Seeta aur Geeta style.
Now we all know that they will be reunited (spoiler!) and fall in love (double spoiler!) and the necklace will have some major role to play in all this (Really, Filmi Girl?!) but the real creativeness in Yamadonga comes when a giant plot twist in the form of a TRIP TO HELL (aka Yama Lokam) for our intrepid Hero.
(Jr NTR can do no wrong!)
Indiaglitz has this to say about Yama Lokam:
This film could proudly say that it has the biggest-ever indoor set erected so far in whole of Asia and incidentally it is the costliest individual set. At least 300 workers worked on the set day and night over period of 90 days to erect the mighty 'Yama Lokam' set in Ramoji Film City. The magnitude of the set was so much that it took almost one and half month to dismantle. It is further surprising to mention that the number of shooting days in this set was a mere 42 days.
(The whole article is worth reading for the breathless trivia - did you know that Jr NTR danced with SIX different leading ladies in the film?! SIX!)
Yamadonga is a big, happy masala of a million small scenes and characters and aside from a bit of drag towards the middle when Jr NTR gets stuck in Yama Lokam, the film zips and zings through all the right notes. While I was watching I kept wondering why I hadn't jumped on the Jr NTR train before this!
The man is magic!
(Oh, I'm just casually standing here smouldering at the camera...)
(*blows Rambha's dress of with the force of his charisma*
Yes, that's actually a plot point...)
Rambha would also like to point out that you don't need to be Size Zero to be SEXXXY!
Jr NTR would agree but he is busy drawing honey through hot lips.
(GOD, I love Southern song lyrics!)
And let's not forget National Award Winner Priyamani (lately praised to the high heavens in Raavan AND Raavanan) - she has the thankless job of acting opposite the Hero and in a rather soppy role at that but Priyamani actually makes poor Mahi a rather sympathetic character instead of a whiny shrew. She does her duty but nobody is going to walk over her either. You can tell Mahi has a spine, even if it bends quite a bit before the collective weight (pun intended) of her leech-like extended family.
So, do I recommend Yamadonga? It depends. If you are easily offended by things like threats of forced marriage against the Heroine and macho Hero posturing, then no. If you require "logic" and/or "a good story" in your films, then no. BUT, if you are like me and find the allure of a conman conned by his own heart into a dance-off in Hell irresistible, then you should probably click here and buy your own copy!
Note from Filmi Girl:
I love Bollywood - and all the ridiculous things that happen in Bollywood - but it doesn't mean that I can't occasionally make fun of various celebrities and films.
If you don't like my sense of humor, please just move on by - Trolls are not appreciated and nasty comments will be deleted.
xoxo Filmi Girl