Krishna and his Leela is streaming on Netflix.
Krishna and his Leela movie cast: Siddhu Jonalgadda, Shraddha Srinath, Shalini Vadnikatti, Seerat Kapoor, Jhansi, Sampath Raj
Krishna and his Leela movie director: Ravikant Perepu
Krishna and his Leela movie rating: Two and a half stars
Running after girls and getting dumped is our major interest, says Krishna, your average layabout who lives in Vizag. That’s what he does. Runs after girls and gets dumped. No spoilers here, because that’s what this film is about. Wait, let me amend that. It’s about hooking up and breaking up, yes, but what makes Krishna and his Leela, interesting in the way he goes about it. And, in the way the women in his life deal with it.
Rom-coms, especially those which coast on that creaky concept of the one guy-two girls triangle, need major retrofitting to make things fresh. Krishna (Jonalgadda) starts off as an aimless jerk, yelling at Satya (Srinath) when she decides she’s done. Soon enough, consolation arrives. Radha (Vadnikatti) is lovely, and Krishna is like ‘woh nahi toh koi aur sahi’. And things go swimmingly till a job and change of town pose a real problem: old love, or new?
The myth-making names of the characters tell you half the story. Lord Krishna played the field, didn’t he? And where did that leave his faithful Radha? But this is no epic, it is the here and now, and our hero is human whose flesh is weak. Very. Ricocheting between two women, and lying through his teeth, is finally not something a real man does: Jonalgadda is believable as that fellow who moves from self-pity to feeling conflicted, and, most importantly, not smug about having his cake and eating it too. The two young women, Satya and Radha, are distinct, well-outlined characters, and have minds of their own, though you wish the script had given them a few more smarts in facing up to their two-timer. And a spirited third woman, Rukhsar (Kapoor) adds to the mix.
At two hours, it is a stretch. A heavy-handed plot twist, which involves Krishna’s father and his philandering ways, bunged in as a lesson, makes the going bumpy. But the tone remains conversational and light, and Krishna breaking the fourth wall frequently, addressing us directly, doesn’t mercifully feel gimmicky or overdone. There’s a thin line between comedy and drama and you’re walking on that line now, says a character to another. The film manages to walk that line, wobbling occasionally but straightening out in time.
Why would the director who made the 2016 engrossing thriller Kshanam, borrow a climactic sequence from Yashraj’s Hum Tum, though? (Which, in its own turn, was inspired by a Hollywood film, but that’s another story). It nearly spoils the rest of it. Fortunately, there’s enough juice in the ‘leela’, and a hero who lives and learns.
Maybe the grown-up Krishna, and his dialogue-writer, would keep away from such sexist lines as ‘that time of the month’, while trying to explain a girl’s outburst. If a guy loses his temper, he’s just being a guy: why should a woman have any other reason other than the thing at hand. Not cool, dude.