Family Star Review: Vijay Devarkonda Can’t Save This Romance

There is only so much that Vijay Deverakonda is allowed to work on from a clueless script that bounces from one wrong choice to another, observes Arjun Menon.

Vijay Deverakonda joined hands with Director Parsuram for the second time in Family Star, after their fruitful collaboration in the delightful Geetha Govindam (2018).

But Family Star is a wafer-thin power flex from the film-maker that mistakes itself for a document of middle class bravado.

The film is a series of stale details from umpteen past films, struggling to find its way in the haze of lazy, unguided writing.

Family Star is about a young architect Govardan (Vijay Deverakonda), who is bestowed upon with a rather unruly joint family by virtue of his dire circumstances.

We get a glimpse into his daily life of running in the mornings against his neighbours for rationed subsidy, indulging in stringent spending habits and a kind of paternal instinct for the kids in the family.

The initial stretch slowly setting up the mundane crunch of his daily life, suggests an entirely different film from the one that we get to see unfold before us.

Parasuram is least interested in rooting his film in this setup and gets into its intended gear with a major reveal about Govardan’s tenant/romantic partner Indu (Mrunal Thakur) that borders on unintentional comedy.

The film that was in awe of its representation of family values and middle class virtues changes, and you watch in disbelief as the tone devolves into a major engine for an no-holds barred mess. Legendary cinematographer K U Mohanan moves out of the way and lets conventionally accepted visual grammer take centre stage with flat affectations.

A new character is introduced in the halfway point and suddenly the film self-destructs in its own face and becomes a half-hearted love story that defies any semblance of logic and real world dimensions.

Jagpathy Babu’s character makes a flashy entry and swoops the groundwork laid until then and the film becomes a slog from there.

The story moves to the US, where Govardhan and Indu end up playing this film’s version of bickering romantic partners, trying hard not to fall for each other.

We know the drill right?

The resentful romantic partners are forced to work together on a project and can’t fail to fall in love with each other’s charms and all the staples of them trying to one-up each other to various degrees of humiliating results.

But that is all forgiven as long as the onscreen dynamic between the lead pair leaves an impression and makes the romantic conundrum work out its timeless magic. But Parasuram clearly has other plans.

This could have been forgiven in another movie, where the writing compensates for this quick divergence in setting and tone by way of little flourishes and character work.

But Family Star is not an ideal version of that movie.

This is not to say that Family Star suffers any major dearth of inspired writing choices and screenwriting devices. For instance, Parasuram comes up with two mirroring scenes where the heroine eavesdrops on the hero emptying his heart out to others about his feelings for her, in entire different settings and we get how this dynamic evolves in the latter parts through this miscommunication.

In another self-contained writing choice, we get two slaps in the film that are connected in a weird way in the end, but the writing does not warrant the payoff that the film-making aspires for.

Vijay Deverakonda grounds the film in the former half, even when the going gets tough. He injects some swagger and lived-in authenticity to the plight of the hero.

But there is only so much that he is allowed to work on from a clueless script that bounces from one wrong choice to another.

The actor somehow anchors the emotional cogency of the narrative in some shape and his on screen chemistry with Mrunal Thakur makes the jarring moments of self-serious rom-com staples bearable in parts.

Mrunal remains largely consistent in her performance as it rarely challenges her to work any further than the surface flourishes.

Gopi Sundar’s score is largely effective in keeping the levity intact.

Family Star would have ended up being a very different film, if not for the thwarted ambitions of its writing.

The titular ‘family star’ aspects of the central plot gets hijacked by a non-functioning love story, drenched in monotonous story ideas, that have been played out in better versions of itself in previous films of ilk.

The ‘middle class’ aspirations never take flight and we are left with a confused puddle of varying effectiveness, banking on its lead actors’s screen persona.

You get to see Vijay Deverakonda explore some fun ideas on paper that never truly translate to a fully realised fantastical romance, ultimately about the integrity of the common man.

Family Star Review Rediff Rating: