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There’s a scene in Subramanyam for Sale where Rao Ramesh and his group try to abduct Regina Cassandra and are met with Sai Dharam Tej and a band of henchmen that arrives in cars. Sai is an NRI and Rao Ramesh is taken by surprise, for a moment, when he arrives in a style typical of a mass masala and attributes it to the popularity of Telugu cinema in the overseas market. Smart repartees like these add to the mood of the film, which otherwise would have ended up as a wannabe mass flick.Harish Shankar who directed Gabbar Singh that hugely benefited from Pawan Kalyan’s presence, has put the fiasco of Ramayya Vastavayya behind him, and returns with a film that ticks off most boxes in a checklist for masala films. Now and then, he also makes fun of the formula while revelling in it.Subramanyam (Sai Dharam Tej) is a software engineer in the US who does every odd job that comes his way. Money makes him sway, but he’s still the nice guy who doesn’t let go of his integrity. He meets a runaway bride, Sita (Regina), who has no place to go, and eventually the two act as a couple to take part in a best couple contest and win a tidy sum. Both have commitments back in India and what’s at stake for Sita necessitates them to continue the happy couple act.The film takes its time to find its feet. It follows a set pattern trying to give its hero a good opening song where he can showcase his dance moves and a few sequences that establish his fighting skills. There’s also Brahmanandam who is flown in from India as a special chef. The music is a tad loud, a surprise from the regular Mickey J. Meyer one is used to.When the scene shifts to India, a huge supporting cast of uncles, aunts, cousins, elders and even goons in subdued avatars step in. There’s an apt dialogue referring to the house filled with as many people as one would find in a Krishnavamsi film! Again, one guy (Brahmanandam, who else?) knows the truth about Subramanyam and Sita. Thankfully, the screenplay in these portions rises above the staid route with some deft handling of situations, particularly the way Brahmanandam is outwitted and the goons trying to be tech savvy. The audience cracks up when ‘fish’ Venkat asks his boss, Ajay, if he doesn’t know What’sApp. Harish Shankar scores brownie points for converting a few routine, fight-worthy moments to humour.Among the supporting cast, Rao Ramesh, Adah Sharma, Tejaswi Madiwada, Ajay, Naresh and Jhansi make their presence felt. Nagababu pitches in for a brief but pivotal role.Sai Dharam Tej shows marked improvement and befits the film that matches his energy levels. Regina sails through effortlessly, except in the scenes where she is required to shed tears.Subramanyam for Sale plays to the gallery with plenty of references to Pawan Kalyan. Oh, there’s also the nifty new take on ‘Guvva Gorinkatho’ song from Chiranjeevi’s Khaidi No. 786, this one shot at the Grand Canyon.
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