It is still Monday and a start of a new week and I do have a couple of leftovers from the weekend. And with that I finished watching the new Telugu film GodFather which is now streaming on Netflix. An official adaptation of the Malayalam film Lucifer, I had earlier missed out on watching GodFather in theatres, not that I regret it one bit. But since the film was out on Netflix, I decided to give it a watch. The sole reason for that was the Malayalam film Lucifer.
I had watched Lucifer very recently on Amazon Prime and I had quite enjoyed its layered storytelling technique and its grey characters. That did give me some hope about an otherwise supposedly over the top mass masala entertainer in the form of GodFather. Now that I have finished watching GodFather, here are my two cents on the same.
Story & Screenplay
An official adaptation of the Malayalam film Lucifer, GodFather follows the story of a mysterious man who stakes his claim on the throne following the death of a political leader. The original story by Murali Gopi was layered and cerebral although it still had the commercial entertainer tropes intact. But here the story is simplied and largely catered to the fans of Chiranjeevi, considering the number of tweaks being made for a “wholesome” theatrical experience. The screenplay standing at a shade above 150 minutes did seem like it was a shade too long despite it being well short of the duration of Lucifer which was 172 minutes long. And this was a problem for me in a weird manner!
The drama has very little buildup to it with so many scenes appearing to be rushed in, without a steady buildup that we did see in the original. There was a deliberate attempt to make things massy and over the top without catering to the nuances of the original screenplay that gave it so much more texture. I can understand that this was done to suit the palate of the Telugu speaking audience who do prefer their share of over the top cinema. And there is nothing wrong in it. But you have got to remember that this is a political drama at its core and to truly present the nuances of it, you needed that buildup which was missing here.
The core idea and trajectory of the drama is similar to the original which is the good news. The bad news though is that it lacks conviction and because of that I often found myself distracted. If the idea here was just to entertain then this wasn’t exactly the script to implement it. One thing to note is that you may end up enjoying the drama if you haven’t watched the original film Lucifer or if you are die-hard fans of Chiranjeevi or even Salman Khan. But for folks like me, I was often seen facepalming myself as the proceedings were borderline caricaturish and needless to say over the top.
Now there might be a counter argument that Lucifer had its share of commercial elements too. That is a fair point but the strength of that drama was in its cerebral and layered writing as well as the characterization. Here, the entire character of Tovino Thomas is edited out only to give Nayanthara more meat to her role and better establish her equation with Chiranjeevi. But that was anyway on the cards and I so missed that podium speech by Tovino here that instantly had me sold to the drama. Even the character of Salman Khan was at best atrocious. In the original Prithviraj Sukumaran had a surprise role and was always true to his character performing covert operations. But here I don’t know what the makers intended the character to do. Was he a spy? Why was he shooting rockets from his motorcycle?(yes you read that right). It was a star celebration which was never true to its source material.
The final act is just ridiculously bad here. It almost seemed like a video game with the two protagonists shooting down everyone in a drama that was far too bland and predictable for its genre perhaps even for people who may not have watched the original. In other words, the screenplay is a mess!
Dialogues, Music & Direction
The dialogues are massy and catered primarily to the front benchers. The songs are cringe worthy and just nonsense packaged as a masala entertainer. The BGM is really good and it enhances some of the action set pieces quite well. The VFX is bad, really bad for a film made on this scale. Director Mohan Raja who has made a career out of remaking films has done a very poor job with his execution. What was a great script at hand, was soon transformed into an irreversible mess that can only be best enjoyed with a couple of drinks.
The performances do not exude much confidence here. Murali Sharma as Narayana was an absolute caricature as opposed to his counterpart in the original who was well restrained. Puri Jagannath as Govardhan needed to be restrained as well but his over the top nature was the downfall of his character. Tanya Ravichandran as Jhanvi is fair. Nayanthara as Satya is decent although nowhere close to the expressive Manju Warrier in the original. Salman Khan was just being himself, sleepwalking through one of his projects like in recent times. He was barely moving even while dancing! Satyadev Kanchana as Jaidev is pretty good here even though I did miss the calculating aspect of his character that Vivek Oberoi had mastered in the original. Chiranjeevi as Brahmaji is in good form but I really wish he reinvents himself like Mohanlal or Mammootty who are doing some fabulous work. This formulaic approach needs to be discarded now!
GodFather is almost like Lucifer but on steroids that can safely be skipped in a heartbeat! Available on Netflix.