Nagarjuna-Raghavendra Rao-Keeravani-Bharavi are back again with another tale of Lord Venkateswara’s greatest devotee. After Annamayya, the famous quartet now tells us the little known story of Hathiram Bavaji in Om Namo Venkatesaya.
Rama (Nagarjuna) comes to Tirumala in search of The God. Rama brings reforms in Tirumala that is under control of bad people (Rao Ramesh and co) that tortures the local laborers and creates problems for pilgrims. He also makes sure that the pooja and other services to the Lord are done as per the book. Rama is assisted by another great devotee of Venkateswara Swamy (Saurabh Jain) called Krishnamma (Anushka). Rama gets the help of an elephant (hathi) when he is in trouble and his name becomes Hathiram. People start to see God in him and call him Hathiram Bavaji. Rama doesn’t like all this and decides to leave Tirumala.
Nagarjuna is the luckiest actor of his generation to essay the roles of Annamayya, Ramadasu and Hathiram. We cannot imagine any other actor in the role of a devotee. He brings believability to the characters with his intense performance. ONV will also be remembered as one of the memorable movies in the career of King Nagarjuna.
Anushka is good as Krishnamma. Her performance in the climax episode is commendable. Saurabh Jain is convincing as Lord Venkateswara. He is so graceful. Pragya Jaiswal played a cameo. Jagapathi Babu also appeared in a guest role. Rao Ramesh is good as the villain. Vimala Raman as Padmavathi gets a good role and she does justice to it.
Raghavendra Rao weaves his magic with this unsung story of one of the greatest devotees of Shri Lord Venkateswara. Raghavendra Rao’s old school technique works wonderfully here. He narrated the tale in an entertaining and interesting fashion. There are not many idle moments in the film that is aptly aided by soulful music of Keeravani.
Keeravani is the hero behind the screen with his terrific musical score. Background score is the main asset of this film. JK Bharavi should be commended for writing a tight screenplay for a story that is not known to many. Cinematography is splendid and editor keeps it short and sweet. Art director and the graphics department did their job in dishing out a decent product. Production values are good.
- Pre climax and climax are unconvincing
- Not much drama in second half
Om Namo Venkatesaya didn’t excite many with its promos as it looked like a rehashed version of Annamayya. It felt like an attempt to cash in on the craze for devotional films from the Annamayya team. But Om Namo Venkatesaya turns out to be a surprise package with decent enough story and arresting screenplay.
The strength of the film lies in the unfamiliarity of its story. Rama’s journey is told in an interesting fashion without any deviations for the sake of commercial benefits. Raghavendra Rao does tend to squeeze in a couple of romantic duets into the film, but they are perfectly placed without disturbing the flow of the story.
The film offers ample entertainment with dashes of humor and a few thrilling sequences. Scenes between Rama and Lord Venkateswara are presented in an endearing fashion without going overboard. Director and writer convince us that Hathiram is the reason for the perfection of ‘Srivari seva’ in Tirumala.
It is a nice mix of real story and fiction that will seems illogical or unconvincing. However, care should have been taken about the second half where there isn’t much story to tell. Pre climax and climax seem like a bit hurried and fall short of expectations. A perfect finale is what this movie lacks. Nevertheless it has enough in it to offer to the Venkateswara devotees and family audience.
Keeravani’s musical score, Nagarjuna’s performance and Raghavendra Rao’s arresting narration makes Om Namo Venkatesaya worth a watch. It has high chances to click at the box office as there is absolutely nothing that goes against it. ONV can do wonders on the business front if it is promoted well.
Verdict: Annamayya Team does it again.