‘Ooru Peru Bhairavakona’ movie review: For want of some real magic

“Ooru Peru Bhairavakona,” a film that intertwines fantasy with magical realism, invites viewers to a world where stolen jewelry, a fugitive man, a village seeking redemption, perennial grudges, and a love story that could unravel many mysteries coexist. Directed by Vi Anand, the film is an intriguing tapestry of elements designed to captivate the audience. However, the burning question remains: Does the movie cast the enchanting spell it promises, or does it falter in its cinematic incantation?

The story begins conventionally. Basavalingam, played by Sundeep Kishan, along with his comedic companion John (Viva Harsha), are unsung heroes behind the silver screen, working in the stunt department. When the cameras aren’t rolling, Basavalingam finds himself entangled in less glamorous tasks – one of which includes keeping watch over a kidnapped woman.

One fateful night, Basavalingam and John, along with a bag filled with jewelry, encounter the crafty con woman Geetha (Kavya Thapar). In their bid to dodge the pursuing police, they venture into the depths of the forest and stumble upon a mysterious village called Bhairavakona – a place laden with arcane rituals and unfathomable secrets.

What follows is an exploration of life’s enigmatic dimensions: life, death, the afterlife, and the necessity of healing scars of the past that refuse to fade. Vi Anand, whose repertoire includes films like Ekkadiki Pothavu Chinnavada and Okka Kshanam, revisits his fascination with the supernatural. In “Ooru Peru Bhairavakona,” he poses an intriguing hypothesis: What if the souls were given a chance to mend?

Despite the film’s philosophical bent, it does not demand the viewer to weigh deeply on these considerations. Instead, Anand intersperses the narrative with humor, although at times the tonal shifts appear awkward and undermine the story’s impact. There are moments of genuine levity, such as the witty banter between Harsha and Vennela Kishore, which momentarily lifts the film’s energy. A particularly memorable line delivered after a pivotal mid-story twist amusingly reminds us to “show some respect to the dead.”

As the veil lifted from the village’s mysteries, characters that initially appeared formidable become less menacing. Even the jump scares are unable to conjure a true sense of dread.

Central to the movie’s plot is the romance between Basavalingam and Bhoomi (Varsha Bollamma), which should serve as the emotional anchor. However, this relationship, much like the remainder of the narrative, lacks the depth to fully engage the audience. The film seems to hold viewers at a distance, making it difficult to immerse oneself completely in Basavalingam’s dangerous journey. A subplot involving Bhoomi’s struggle for her land’s rights falls similarly flat, failing to evoke the empathy it aspires to.

In the midst of storytelling, the film occasionally loses traction. The mystery of the Garuda Puranam’s missing pages and its significance doesn’t maintain interest for long. There is a hauntingly beautiful song, ‘Nijame ne chebuthunna…’, and the luminescent, magical staff in Basavalingam’s possession, but these bits arrive too late to salvage the viewer’s dwindling attention.

Not all is lost, however; Sundeep Kishan’s dedication to his role offers a glimmer of hope, and Shekhar Chandra’s musical compositions do leave an impression. Conversely, the overpowering background score often smothers the dialogue, diminishing potential moments of connection.

“Ooru Peru Bhairavakona” aimed to be an intriguing fantasy romance drama that would inspire audiences to ponder profound concepts about existence and what comes thereafter. Alas, it misses the intended mark substantially, leaving behind the echo of opportunity lost in its magical world.

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