Rama Krishna Sangem
I watched “Acharya” at 7.45 pm show on May 2, Monday, fourth day of release, at Prasads’s Screen 1. Ticket price on Bookmyshow was Rs 354. You can imagine the fate of the movie, if there were hardly 35 audience in a hall of around 392 seats by interval.
Already, there was negative talk about the film right from the first day of release on April 29. Many of my friends wondered why I went to the movie, knowing it was not doing well. You can imagine the financial loss to producers and distributors. We hear, Chiranjeevi and Ram Charan are planning to slash their remunerations too.
Mega star Chiranjeevi’s fans, as well as those of his son Mega Power Star Ram Charan may not agree if we say, the movie was a flop, but they are also not happy with the way it is doing on the very first week in both Telangana and Andhra. This is so, because Acharya is the first movie from Chiranjeevi after the two year long gap of pandemic. Of course, Charan’s movie RRR is there from March last week, but Acharya is prestigious for Chiru-Charan duo.
Still, I was wondering what went wrong. In the movie of 154 minutes duration, Chiranjeevi looked younger and fresh. There is no tiredness in his eyes or wrinkles on his face. He played a Naxalite, probably operating in a squad in Andhra-Orissa borders. Charan, born to another comrade couple in the same squad. After his parents die in a shootout, Chiru – Acharya – looks after the boy – Charan, (Siddha). Siddha grows up in a village called Dhamasthali.
Entire movie revolves around how Dhamasthali, a 800 year old village in the middle of a forest with herbal medicines and minerals, was saved by Acharya, from the evil designs of villains – Sonu Sood and Jisshu Sengupta. Director Koratala Siva followed all safeguards – like projecting Chiru and Charan as super heroes and followed some templates from storytelling techniques of his friend and director SS Rajamouli. Superstar Mahesh Babu gave voice over too.
I would like to outline five major reasons for this disappointing show of Acharya, made at a budget of around Rs 150 crore. First, the story itself is confusing. How can a Naxalites squad comes to save a temple town, more a temple of Goddess Ghattamma? Usually communists are against to the concept of God and religion. So, director Siva mixed mining aspect to the story, to make it more acceptable to Naxal fans.
Second, audience could not digest Chiranjeevi as a Naxalite fighting with a gun (but mostly uses knife to kill enemies). Even if we take it, Chiranjeevi and his other comrades going to Jagitial for a marriage and drinking taddy (kallu) and dancing to an item song with Regina Cassandra. You can imagine Chiranjeevi dancing to a devotional song and an item song in the first half itself, being a Naxalite.
Third, audience also could not accept Sonu Sood as the merciless villain, especially after his philanthropic help to number of poor and helpless people during and after Covid pandemic. There were memes ridiculing heroes like Chiranjeevi doing not much for the public, while Sonu spending his personal monies to help people. Moreover, Sonu Sood is not that villainy villain in the movie. The story failed to project him a cruel villain, a minus point to the movie.
Fourth, the role of Charan and his heroine, Puja Hegde and their relationship end abruptly. Director Siva failed to tell us what happens to Puja (Neelambari) in the second half. This is amateurish handling by a newcomer director. But not from Siva. Audience also failed to understand the complex relationship between Dharmasthali and its adjacent Padaghattam villages. Thee pagan settings look similar to Rajamouli’s Baahubali’s Mahishmati and his nearby village.
Fifth, and most importantly, there seems to be a role for bad propaganda right from the first day, first show of Acharya movie release on April 29. Sustained campaign on social media that the movie failed to cut the ice has done major damage to the movie than any of the four reasons I mentioned above. Is the movie that bad? I think no. We cannot blame Siva for the poor show, though he may have disappointed Mega fans.
When a movie like Akhanda made money, there is no reason, why not Acharya?. May be audience are tired of watching movies at extra ticket prices after RRR and KGF-2 movies. The first few movies that were released after pandemic drew crowds to theaters. Public wanted to have revenge entertainment (after staying homes for long). Probably, they wanted to save money on a movie that got bad publicity.
Mani Sharma music, Tirru’s cinematography and Naveen Nooli’s editing done justice to the movie.