In Ante Sundaraniki, the hero Kasthuri Poorna Venkata Sesha Sai Pawana Rama Sundara Prasad aka Sundar’s superpower is his ability to persuade people into the most tricky of situations. People, despite their better judgment, simply give in to Sundar’s bold demands. Because halfway through the hour-long usual encounter with Sundar, his targets realize the truth that he won’t stop talking until they give him what he wants. In other words, Sundar forces his targets into submission with his incessant monologue.
He did not inherit Sundar’s super power. It’s something a person develops by growing up in a household that controls every breath he or she takes. A highly regimented approach to raising children seems like the easiest way to produce master liars.
Sundar comes from a very conservative family. So much so that he is banned from traveling to the United States because his family believes allowing a man to cross the sea is a mortal sin, something that would anger their gods. Her superficial beliefs make his growing up years very painful. He is constantly teased at school for his weird, incompletely tonsured head. His father Sastri garu (played by a wonderful Naresh) gets him a girls’ bike, concerned that the horizontal crossbar in the boys’ bike might jeopardize his son’s ability to become a father in the future. Sundar has also been subjected to some yagnas or rituals since childhood to eliminate all negative vibrations in his life. The astrologer of the family gets rich.
Like his family, Sundar has his own quirks. After missing an opportunity to play young Chiranjeevi in a movie, he quits watching movies altogether. After his school crush Leela (played by Nazriya Fahadh), a professional photographer, falls in love with a man in her line of work, he stops posing for pictures altogether.
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Leela also comes from a very conservative family. But her family prays to a different god than Sundar. Sundar is Brahmin and Leela is Christian. And both parents are hardliners when it comes to dealing with people of other religions. But these religious and social distinctions do not apply to the relationships that form within the school premises. An educational institution is a place where diversity thrives. It is a safe place for young minds to meet and make friends without pride and prejudice stemming from class, caste, colour, creed or religion. And there Sundar and Leela meet.
Sundar and Leela are total misfits. They have no friends at school and their families play a big part in that. And they find each other. They value each other’s qualities that other children find ridiculous. But it would be a while before their high school friendship grew. The love for which they are both willing to move heaven and earth with their seemingly endless lies.
Ante Sundaraniki is snappy, fast-paced and a lot of fun. Writer-director Vivek Athreya brings the energy of a thriller to this comedy. The hilarious film reminded me of the irreverent style of comedy invented and perfected by legendary comic book writer and screenwriter Crazy Mohan. The confusion, conflict, drama and humor come from lies, and those lies need more ridiculous lies, and those lies call for more outrageous lies to cover up a simple truth.
Nani effortlessly slips into the role of a rebellious man who invents masterful lies with ease. Nazriya Fahadh’s screen presence adds a lot to the film’s appeal. And who would have thought that putting Nazriya and Nani in the same frame would create such sizzling chemistry. Naresh, Rohini, Azhagam Perumal, Nadhiya, Anupama Parameswaran, Harsha Vardhan all shine within their allotted portions in the 3 hour run.
Vivek has chosen warm color schemes that are easy on our eyes. And editor Ravi Teja Girijala has done an excellent job infusing the narrative with overwhelming energy, something rarely seen in the romantic comedy genre.
Ante Sundaraniki’s real selling point is Vivek’s love and understanding of the Telugu language. The fluency of the narration is so refreshing. It’s not loaded with heavy heroic punchlines. The vocabulary of the film is so simple and at the same time has significant literary value.
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