Okay, so maybe I do, since the mere presence of Prakash Raj seeming to do very good needs had me puzzled and I had no idea what the Brahmi and M. S. Narayana threads were about. (For those of you who are new-ish to Telugu films, as I am, there are in fact some visual clues to those threads that in retrospect are obvious, and I can only blame my obliviousness to them on being distracted by the lively cinema audience and the film's refreshingly non-garish interiors and, er, striking wardrobe choices.) Dookudu was a fun time full of slick and grabs-you action sequences, including a particularly Rube Goldberg machine-y chase through a shipping yard, very pleasing costumes and textiles, and enjoyable songs. I'm going to have to watch "Chulbuli Chulbuli" several more times just to take in all the feathers and weird sculptures and backup dancers doing all sorts of interesting things. And the Alpine song to point and laugh at the hair on the confused hipster gora backup dancers.
In their review (which contains a very useful basic plot summary), my favorite consultants on all things Tollywood Cinema Chaat mentioned that several players seemed underused, and though I do not know any of them by name I felt that I kept seeing people stand around or run away without actually contributing anything. Even Sonu Sood was wasted in a villain role that seemed to prefer brooding to despicable deeds. He did get one of the best villain deaths I have ever seen, though, and unlike Cinema Chaat I thought he looked dashingly silly in his multiple layers of neckwear, varying color sunglasses, and belt buckle bling.
And speaking of not doing anything, WHY DID THE WRITERS BOTHER TO SCRIPT ANY FEMALE CHARACTERS AT ALL SINCE NOT A ONE OF THEM DOES ANYTHING INTERESTING OR USEFUL? Mahesh's boss's wife brings him a cup of tea, but that is quite literally the only contribution I noticed a woman make in this film. I hope knowing the dialogue would prove me wrong. Poor Samantha as the love interest is the most perfunctory character, not even serving as hostage bait or property to be argued over by men with machetes. I'm not saying those are preferable roles, mind you, but at least they make a sort of sense in regressive filmi logic and morals. She doesn't even get an alluring dance!
Let's talk about Mr. Prince. My cinema hall crowd could not get enough of his heroic and comedic one-liners, tossing shredded paper in the air at his name on the screen and his eventual entry. I may never fully board the Mahesh train, but the kind of character he had here, which seemed like a full person and not just a killing machine, is so much more engaging to me. I certainly didn't catch all of the comedy or emotional exchanges with Prakash Raj, but I loved that they were incorporated into a hero who was already full-throttle action. I was quite amused that Mahesh spent almost as long dancing in the nightclub number (where I think he was under cover, but who knows) as he did romancing Samantha. I can imagine his character with a mental to-do list that goes something like
- seek revenge on my father's attackers and find ways for my father to extract that revenge without realizing it
- create elaborate fake-pretend tv show to make sure father never finds out the truth about what has happened since he went into the hospital (and return DVD of Goodbye Lenin!)
- police duties
- dance! dance! dance!
- stalk girl until she sasses me one too many times
- slap girl for her own good
- remember I am happy to see girl once her dad gets involved