From Bollywood to Bommarillu with Genelia and Siddharth

As a fan of Indian cinema, I ought to have crossed over to Telugu cinema (from Tollywood) a long, long time ago. But better late than never. Finally got the push I needed courtesy Genelia D'Souza and Siddharth Narayan in Bommarillu (2006), and this post on the film by Sita-ji at the Bollywood Food Club. Both Genelia and Siddharth have works in Bollywood they (and their fans) should be proud of, and I was very, very glad to have seen it Friday night. Started watching at midnight, and was surprisingly wide awake at 3 AM. It was that good! Here are some highlights:

1. Genelia D'Souza as Hasini was fantastic. It is no surprise she won the Best Actress Filmfare award that year for her performance. Reword her name to Haseena (gorgeous) or Hansini (swan), and it would be appropriate. She played a temple-going and superstition-subscribing (excuse me if that is grammatically incorrect) belle...

...who was a bindaas (fearless) college student not afraid to sneak out of class...

...and speak her mind to her concerned father every once in a while (despite contradictions, which only justified the realism in her character -- young, silly woman).

Most importantly, she was sincere and honest, a khuli kitaab (open book). She also appreciated the finer foods in life. :) The paani puri she loved instantly reminded me of its distant cousin sev puri (discussed in this post).

She was fantastic and lovable no matter what she wore (expressions and colors) and when.

She need not act in this. I am convinced this is who she is in real life!

And she liked Siddhu (short for Siddharth). Loved that she would use 'Siddhu' in almost every other sentence during their conversations. Sounded so innocent. Awwww.

She also managed to take over the film in this sequence. On a more serious note, she really does have phenomenal improvisational skills.

2. My introduction to Siddharth came in one of my all-time favorite films, Rang De Basanti (2006), in which he was fantastic as Karan Singhania. Here, he played the son of a rich businessman too. Again, his acting was excellent. He struck a balance between the comedy...

...the romance...

...and the sentimental. Each time he succeeded.

3. Loved how the movie started out. Every guy who has gone shirt-shopping with dad can relate to this:

4. The rest of the actors were extremely well cast. Siddhu's father -- played by Prakash Raj -- was very good.

5. This scene, in which the family was watching a soccer game, reminded me of at least three instances of soccer World Cups during which members from my extended family and I would stay up late to watch games. Each time, there was a wedding for which we had gathered. Each time, the living rooms we were in would be as loud as a sports bar. This was really quite representative of not only South Indian culture, but Indian culture as a whole.

6. What I really liked about the film was that so little looked artificial. The flow was natural, the people looked and acted very natural. And things seemed easy to relate to. The ambiance in some of the sequences was splendid. In addition to that TV room noted above, the dining room was well put together. Heck, Hasini was even made to sit to the right of the host (albeit farther away), perhaps an indication of her special guest status in the house (dining room etiquette experts, be proud!)?

And this scene in the living room was well done too. That lady in the blue saree reminded me of Tabu, which is freaky, given that this is my second consecutive movie review (the other being Kashmir Ki Kali) with honorable mention of the lovely lady :)

7. An important feature of the film was the time spent on the phone. Reminded me of this bit of dialogue in Jaane Tu, "Phone par, beta" (on the phone, child).

8. Oh, did I mention Hasini looked fantastic throughout, time and place notwithstanding?

9. The film has an interesting end. This provides some indication of the source of intrigue.

This might seem exaggerated to those who have not seen Bommarillu, but the film is easily up there with its Bollywood counterparts, films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jaayenge. It has more soul than at least one of those two blockbusters. And this is not an impulsive reaction either. I watched bits of it again on Saturday, and continue to be amazed at how well everything fit!

I do not speak Telugu (sadly, but Genelia speaks Hindi, so that's okay), but the dialogue, as translated, was fantastic, and so was the music. Enjoy my favorite song below (love the music and choreography). Sita-ji shared it in her review, and I like this even more after having seen the film.

Was waiting to see Genelia in a second lead role before adding her name to my list of favorite actresses, and the film provided that and a whole lot more. Four stars and then some for a beautifully made and entertaining film that delivers because of fine performances by everyone involved. Watch Bommarillu to remind yourself why we all love Indian cinema to begin with!

My rating: 4.25/5 (excellent!)

My classification: G (clean -- great for family viewing)

A wish: When this film is remade in Hindi, please, please, please cast Genelia opposite Siddharth again or opposite Imran Khan. Anybody with me on not wanting Harman Baweja here?


Anonymous said...

Adab! EXCELLENT review, nawab. You really did it justice and I’m delighted you liked it. I too started this film very late one raat and ended up watching it all the way through. I TRY and start by Indian films by 9 or earlier, but it usually is more like 10 or 11. I just can’t stop at the intermission most times and continue the next day. This film’s intermission was exciting! I agree with your statement, “the film is easily up there with its Bollywood counterparts, films like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jaayeng,” and I would add Maine Pyar Kiya to that list too. And how did you like the slap? Didn’t it take you by surprise? Ditto on the Tabu actress vibe too. I wanted to tell you, but not until you saw it, that THIS is really where Genelia shines, much more so than in JTYJN. Right? Any cuter she’d self combust. Prakash was almost my favorite next to her and I look forward to seeing Nana Patekar in the Hindi version. Yet, fresh off seeing Dasavatharam (
this weekend, I’d also like to see Kamal Haasan as the dad. I’m with you on the Imran Khan vs. Harman Baweja for Siddu. :)
All the best,

theBollywoodFan said...

Adab Sita-ji: Thank you again for recommending this! I haven't been up that late on a Friday night in a while. So I almost went 24 hours without any sleep, and it was all very well worth it. Played it a second time on Saturday just to be sure I wasn't dreaming of its quality the night before :)

The scene right before the intermission was excellent. The major touch points all coming together, some unaware of the others' presence. Quite amazing, really.

You were right about the timing of the slap somewhat catching the viewer by surprise. It was undeserved. All right, maybe I am biased, but what's wrong with a little bias? :)

Genelia was fantastic. Agree about her performance here being special, and perhaps even better than JTYJN. Okay, so it probably was better, there, you got me to say it :P

Now that I think about it, it'd be nice to have the same cast dub it in Hindi and release it under a Bollywood banner. It really is so well done...unless there's someone other than Harman playing Siddu, I wouldn't want a remake. Although Genelia might just save that film :)

Kamal Hasan is such a good actor. Haven't seen him in a long, long time. There was at least one Hindi film I remember watching and liking as a kid, with him in it. I'll have to look it up...


Anonymous said...

Adab yaar,

I want to give Bommarillu another watch to see anything I missed. Yes it does seem to be that good of a movie. Was the movie you saw with Kamal maybe Saagar?

That's where I fell in love with him. Madly in love. I wanted Dimple and Rishi to get off the screen so I could watch Kamal! He can really dance too.

Now get to bed, so you can get up later to watch ore movies!


theBollywoodFan said...

Yes, I believe it was Saagar, although I can hardly recall anything from the movie. Should see it soon. But I need to see Bobby before that!

Anonymous said...

Hello. I came across your blog site on Google, and as a Hyderabadi now living in America, I can tell you this movie was popular among Telugu movie buffs in India and in America. I am happy you liked it as your review suggests.

Telugu filmmakers have a long ways to go to attract new fan followings. Sometimes I wish they catered more to NRI tastes, but we have Bollywood (hate the term, but you seem to like it) for that!

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Rushi: Thank you for stopping by and for your comment.

You bring up two interesting debates:

1. On The use of the term 'Bollywood':
This one's been ever since the term was coined. There are names as big as Amitabh Bachchan and Naseeruddin Shah who oppose its use. I see their point. Yet, I choose to embrace the term, if only in acceptance of it being a more specific term for the Hindi film industry (as opposed to saying Hindi movies or Indian movies, both of which are not specific to the Bombay-based industry, at least to someone who is unfamiliar).

As a fan of the industry, I would rather not disown the term. I've seen and met enough people who refer to 'Bollywood' rather lovingly -- besides, there is a cardinal principle in marketing to be market-driven. If the term 'Bollywood' is pervasive, why not embrace it, be comfortable with it, and use it ? Of course, this term is most useful when away from India, which brings us to your second point.

2. Bollywood being the primary industry from Indian cinema's many faces that is often geared toward foreign audiences.

Salman Khan wrote about this recently at his blog in this post. Couldn't agree more with him.

There are too many NRIs in the world to ignore, so focus on them is not bad. The problem arises when the films cater to one specific audience and completely ignore the other (unless it absolutely intends to, in which case, so be it). That is when the appeal of the film to the masses takes a dive for the worse. So the challenge for filmmakers is to deliver products that have a vast appeal. That is very difficult to do, yet several manage to do it successfully every year.

For the very reason I use the term 'Bollywood', I'll use 'Tollywood'. Do forgive :)

Tollywood and other regional film industries in India have served as an incubator for talent for Bollywood. I would think the financial rewards in Bollywood have something to do with that. And Tollywood must do its share of marketing in the west, but it seems to often not be geared, as you say, to attracting new, non-Telugu-speaking viewers. Having said that, Tollywood is resourceful too, and it's not that they lack finances to go all out and market a filmy product.

Here's to more visibility in the eyes of others!

ajnabi said...

I'm really excited about seeing this after reading Sita-ji's and your review. Especially since, given TZP still isn't out on DVD, it'll probably be my only opportunity to see Genelia in action till next year!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

SO totally agree w/ your Genelia love! I love this movie ( I'd like to see Siddharth in the Hindi version as well though, he is so adorable here :) But Imran wouldnt be a bad bet- I've also Abhishek is running for it, but somehow I dont want to see that at all.
Dad- Boman would be cool as Genelia's dad- and Amrish, were he alive, would rock Sid's dad's character- in his absence, perhaps Kaml wouldnt be a bad choice, as Sita-ji suggests!

theBollywoodFan said...

Ajnabi: Yes, this is worth getting excited for. It's made me a believer in crossing over to Tollywood every once in a while, that's for sure.

Who knows when Jaane Tu's DVD will release, so you can catch Genelia?! TZP will hopefully release very very soon, so at least there's something to very much look forward to.

Shweta: Genelia was fantastic in the film. I cannot say it enough times, really. And she's made for this kind of role. It really didn't seem like she was acting at all. That's exactly what I thought of her in Jaane Tu as well. Here's to plenty more Genelia!

I'm with you about no Abhishek as well. Boman, Kamal, Nana, would all be very good for Sid's dad, agreed. Of course, Amrish Puri would rock the character. He is truly missed. :'(

Thank you both for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine that scene before the "interval" when the dad enters the home and over hears Sid talking about Hasini being played by Amrish? I don't want to swear, but DAMN! That would be frightening. I think Nana will pull that off really well though. Having recently seen him in Shakti, where he played a total scary freak, I know he can do it...but Amrish, just imagine.

All the best,

theBollywoodFan said...

You're right Sita-ji! That would frighten the heck out of the viewers too! It is a scary thought...dear, oh dear... =)

Anonymous said...

Me 2 really want to see siddharth and genellia together again and a hindi remake of this movie would be great...

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Vidhya: That it would! Thanks for stopping by!

Unknown said...

I WANT Siddharth and Genelia back they are the BEST couple ever!!!!!!
I would hate it if they cast someone else...Siddharth, please come back...I bet if he does in the hindi bomarilu version, he will be the next super star of bollywood. He's got amazing talent..

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Nirosha, and welcome! Genelia and Siddharth were really good here, yes. They deserve to be in it!

Siddharth in Rang De Basanti was quite a sensation, wasn't he? I don't know much at all about regional cinema, but I'm guessing he's decided to focus more on the industry he's been primarily involved in. It's not like there's a dearth of prospective projects for him in Bollywood -- he's as talented as anyone else.


Anonymous said...

Good review of a very good movie. Totally agree with you on all the points you have mentioned.

Another good factor about the movie is the way Hyderabad has been projected - good cinematography.

As a Hyderabadi NRI (living overseas) for several years, I not only enjoyed the good story, acting, direction etc but was also happy to see my beautiful Hyd picturised so well.

Yes Siddarth is a good actor and deserves more interesting hindi film roles (I too dislike the term bollywood - seems to imply we indians have to always compare ourselves to a foregin barometer ie Hollywood.

I liked Genelia in Bommarillu, Boys (tamil movie made by Shankar - her first movie which i am told was a big hit down south) and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. I read somewhere that her first film was actually a hindi movie which failed unfortunately.

Yes Regional Indian cinema ie from the South as well as Bengal has given us some real talent that hindi film makers sometimes cash on but most often fail to do so.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Anonymous, and thank you for your visit and comment. It's great to be able to relate to a former hometown on film. Good to know you enjoyed the Hyderabad setting, and thank you for that insight! I can certainly relate to it every time I see Mumbai. Thanks for those Genelia recommendations as well.

I too Hope Siddharth gets good roles in Hindi films. He's been very good in the two films I've seen him in.


NidaMarie said...

Hi Bollywood Fan! Spending some time perusing through your Genelia reviews!

Wow, I agree so much with this review! And, aww, its clear Genelia has stolen your heart ;)! And why wouldn't she? The girl is absolutely delightful, and LOL at the Hindi speaking comment!Is she your next "Aye-Allah! Juhi Chawla?"

But I had the same reaction, as you know from my reviews of Jaane Tu and Bommarillu...I loved her in the former, but fell for her completely in the latter!

And oh my gosh, I had the same thought about Siddhu's Baabhi(is that the right way to spell?) looking like Tabu!

Your observations are spot on, as usual...I loved this film's simplicity, too. It did feel like you were a part of the family, because everything about the sets felt so they weren't sets at all.

I love the way Genelia played Hasini with so many distinct characteristics...she was so fidgety, always pulling on her backpack strap or saree or something...and she did use Siddhu's name in every other sentence! That impressed me so much when I went back to rewatch Jaane Tu..after this...she played Aditi very differently, yet both girls were somewhat similar in age and playfulness.

And I am soooo with you on the Hindi version! That was my first thought when I heard the lead was going to Harman...I thought to myself, why oh why not Siddarth? But Imran would be acceptable, too! But Harman?

Great review!On to Jaane Tu next!

theBollywoodFan said...

Thanks Nida! You're spot on about Genelia. And yes, I do believe she has the potential to be the next Juhi Chawla (say it with me, haaye Allah, LOL)! I think I was telling Ajnabi the other day that as blasphemous as this might sound, I think Imran-Genelia can be the second coming of Aamir-Juhi. Let's hope they do a few more films together. Aamir and Juhi were near inseparable in their early days.

Glad to know I wasn't the only one reminded of Tabu with Siddhu's bhabi (you almost got it, way to go!). Agree with all your comments. I really liked how redundant she got with the guy's name, verrrry cute! And you're very correct with your thoughts on Hasini v Aditi. Here's the Jaane Tu post. I really enjoyed your review here. There's so much we've written that we have yet to read, I'll be doing some reading too!


Anonymous said...

the movie was superb......


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