'Keedaa Cola', produced by K Vivek Sudhanshu, Saikrishna Gadwal, Srinivas Kaushik Nanduri, Sripad Nandiraj and Upendra Varma, hit the cinemas today.
Vaasthu and Lancham are roomies who live with the former's paralyzed grandfather Varadaraju. When they buy a bottle of Keedaa Cola soft drink, they are delighted to find that it has a cockroach in it. Reason? Lancham, who knows the consumer law by virtue of being a lawyer, believes that they can sue the company by claiming crores of rupees in compensation.
But then, in the same town, Jeevan (Jeevan Kumar) and Naidu (Tharun Bhascker), two semi-estranged siblings with a criminal history, want to get hold of the same bottle. This clash results in them crossing paths with a 'conflict manager' named Shots and the ruthless CEO of the soft drink company.
Chaitanya Rao as Vaasthu and Rag Mayur as Lancham are not remarkable. The former, suffering from a syndrome, plays his defect for laughs. The result is underwhelming. The only respite in this track is Brahmanandam. As a wheelchair-bound old man, he makes us smile every time he appears on the big screen. He gets into a preachy mode in a scene, making us buy into the 'Ranga Marthanda'-esque act.
Tharun Bhascker as Naidu and Jeevan Kumar as Jeevan are the soul of the film. They are superb in every scene, whether or not the scene itself works. Tharun is emerging as an actor with nuance. The best part about his performance is that he doesn't try to make us laugh. Both his idiosyncracies and his desperation are powered by a subtle portrayal. Other filmmakers must explore the combination of Jeevan and Vishnu Oi in the future.
Raghu Ram as Shots, Ravindra Vijay as CEO and Muralidhar Goud (as a scared mediator) are apt. On the downside, they fail to evoke laughs. Getup Srinu is seen as a stereotypical southern Indian hero who overestimates himself.
The music by Vivek Sagar goes hand-in-hand with the wacky mood. On the flip side, in its over-enthusiasm to be bohemian, it turns a bit overbearing at times. AJ Aaron's cinematography and the colour grading are substantive, letting the atmospherics be subdued. Editor Upendra Varma keeps the proceedings exceedingly crisp, as evidenced by the film's run-time of 120 minutes. But this comes at the cost of impact; the first half is laughably short at just about 45 minutes.
Art Director Ashish Teja Pulala doesn't choose gimmicky props just because this is a crime comedy. A distinctive Sound Design is what keeps crime comedies of this sort from feeling ordinary. In this, Varun Venugopal doesn't deliver a dekko.
We were told that the film is about a bunch of desperate men who want to make a quick buck by planting a 'keeda' (cockroach) into a soft drink bottle. But then, it is more about a wannabe Corporator who has to earn crores of rupees as early as he can and his occasionally silly elder brother who may have lost his marbles after serving a 10-year jail term.
Writer-director Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam, make no mistakes, is one of the few trendy directors of contemporary Tollywood. As such, expectations from him have always been soaring. Considering how important his filmmaking grammar and style are, 'Keedaa Cola' is disappointing in a lot of ways. The film doesn't give us long-lasting comedy. It is content with some eccentric characters doing weird things. The idiosyncracies don't make the cut after a point.
The biggest achievement of writers Pranay Koppala, Ramya Kakumanu, Shanthan Raj and Tharun Bhascker is that they don't test the audience's patience. That's the best thing you can say about them. No scene overstays its welcome. On the downside, a lot of scenes don't stay in your mind either.
This crime comedy comes with multiplex sensibilities. It is not entirely broad-based like 'DJ Tillu', nor is it alluringly peculiar the way it wanted to be.