I will never be able to forget the first time I learnt this name. It was when I graduated with a B.Tech degree and was doing nothing but hanging out with friends and wasting money. During this time, I pulled along with me two very good friends who couldn’t help but abide by the rules of friendship when I tortured them to help satisfy my movie maniac soul. We covered Hollywood, Bollywood, and Tollywood, and if I could convince them, Kollywood as well. Since my other two friends weren’t as jobless as I was, the mission was usually carried out over the weekends. If we didn’t get tickets for a particular show, I would take it very personally. I would take the pain to get hold of the guy behind the counter and say, “Anna… Please Anna, _______ hero (name changed as per the film) ku periya, periya fan, Anna. Ennaku Telugu teriyada, aana padam pakkanum.” For some reason, the ticket guys were always sympathetic towards people who were non-Telugu speaking and yet fans of Telugu heros. Anyway, that weekend I decided to watch Kantri, a Jr. NTR starer. We were at a theater on RTC X Roads and the tickets were sold out. No luck with black tickets as well. So I decided to go and enact my little play but my friends hated the idea that I get tickets claiming to be a Jr. NTR fan. I did too. But like I said, I took it too personally so I got the tickets. We were seated at the 9th row from the screen, yes, that close! Jr. NTR’s films always gave me a headache but I thought to myself, “How much worse can it get compared to his previous films?”
Three hours later, I got my answer with a headache that Saridon couldn’t cure for two days. That was the minute Meher Ramesh introduced himself to my head.
KANTRI… BILLA… SHAKTI… SHADOW… Four mega budgets. Four mega flops.
His latest venture, Shadow, is a film that can directly be placed in the “Vijayendra Varma-Okka Magadu” category. Basically, a revenge story without substance. It is about how a sincere journalist’s son (Venky) sets out to avenge the death of his father. Now to achieve that mission Venky has to kill at least 5 people. In the chaotic process of doing that, he acts like a memory loss retard, meets the heroine, Taapsee, manages five duets with her, meets his long-lost mother and pregnant sister, and enjoys torturing us by adorning various extremely unnecessary costumes before we are blessed with rolling credits. Phew! Trust me, I was being very brief.
People often claim that Meher Ramesh may make bad movies but they always have a sense of style in them which I believe, is bullshit. Where is the sense of style in Shadow? Shooting a film in Kuala Lampur doesn’t maketh a stylish movie, stylish people do, or at least their designers. Now if Prabhas and Anushka looked classy in Billa, it is most definitely because they are. Making everyone you cast onscreen wear a pressed business suit and expecting that the audience think you made a rich film does not do the trick. If you have seen Raghav Lawerence’s Don and Rebel, you will know what I mean. And what have you done with poor Mr. Venky. The chimpu look, the numerous finger rings, the over sized black coat, and the ridiculously hideous motor bike. The least the hair stylist could do was take the pains to either patiently straighten Venky’s hair completely or skip using copious amounts of hair spray. About Taapsee, I am not even going to comment unless she stops shopping for clothes from the kids section.
According to me, Meher Ramesh usually copies the entire plot of his film from a previously released film. Kantri was largely taken from Bluffmaster. Billa was an obvious copy/paste from the Tamil film, Billa and I haven’t had the guts to watch Shakti. His innovative approach with Shadow is that he hasn’t picked the entire plot from one film. He has taken parts from various meaningless films and blended them together to churn out utter rubbish. And the best part is, he even plays the original clip alongside with the copied clip. What fun, no? You don’t have to stress at all wondering where you have already seen this before. For instance, you will see that he picked the MS Narayana in the swimming pool shot from Billa. The killing Nagineedu scene was directly picked up from Agnipath. Apparently, he also confessed that he wanted this film to be another Lakshmi that was directed by V.V. Vinayak. Now, what can I say about a director who confesses to copying? Much has been said about the Gabbar Singh Antakshari scene copy, so I shall rest my case with the plagiarism here.
Moving on to the next item on the plate. Consider Indian cooking, South Indian in particular. Most South Indian dishes have what is called seasoning that is added to almost all curries at the end. Seasoning usually has a basic formula; mustard seeds, jeera, asafetida, curry leaves, red chillis, channa dal, and urad dal, as appropriate. Now you can choose to add some or all of these items to get what you can call, tasty seasoning. But if you go ahead and add toor dal, masoor dal, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon, it would lead to indigestion. So does a Meher Ramesh film. The guy uses hundreds of talented artists, important people, and yet none of them add value to the film. Although the film includes Nagababu, Srikanth, Aditya Pancholi, Rahul Dev, MS Narayana, Shinde, Kaatraj, Vennala Kishore, Harshavardhan, Rao Ramesh, Nasser, Nagineedu, Subbaraju, Suman and some 10 other talented people, none of them get justified screen space. It’s like the director is in a rush. A rush to establish the reason for revenge, kill the bad guys, reunite the family, and do hundred other odd things in about 2 hours. And, if you like Subbaraju, please don’t watch the film. I thought I could only give Krishna Vasmi the credit for portraying a man who played Chatrapathi as Chakram, now Meher Ramesh has followed suit.
The music. Much cannot be said about the music since it was given by someone who is possession of countless drums, of all kinds, in all sizes. It takes your ears a while to realize that the lyrics are “Vedevado vedevado, he’ll be there where you go, you would even know he’s a shadow” and not just “dedabadooo deedabadooo deedaade dab dab dab”. Meher should probably have stuck with Mani Sharma. But what could good music have done to a stale script anyway.
I believe Meher Ramesh holds us, the audience, responsible for his first three flops and decided that this time he will not spare the audience. Shadow is a story of how Meher Ramesh takes revenge on the Telugu audience each time they cringe at Venky’s playing Chanti while chewing on a lollipop, MS’s comedy, or simply the film’s mindlessness.
I can only begin to imagine the magnanimity of his next audience targeted-revenge venture. Because Meher Ramesh is like King Vikramaditya in Vikram-Betal, chasing the success ghost and never in the mood to give up.