Exam: Maruthi has a particular style of cinema that sometimes works, sometimes not. Commercial Pakka starts out as this very self-aware comedy, making the distinction between taking something a little serious but still dragging it into the crazy category. The actors also seem to have fun playing their characters, delivering ridiculous lines. The problem is, they seem to be having more fun than you.
Suryanarayana (Sathyaraj) is the kind of judge everyone wants; he is someone who has empathy for the plight of the people in his court even though his hands are tied by law. An unfortunate incident forces him to retire, taking him away from all things law. Years later, his son Lucky (Gopichand) dons the black coat and returns to the same place his father swore from. While his father thinks he is a philanthropic lawyer who will fight for the victims, in reality, Lucky will only fight for those who give him the most money, either in cash or in kind. When a business tycoon Vivek (Rao Ramesh) enters the scene, the retired judge returns to court to confront his son.
Yes, yes, this movie also has Raashi Khanna playing a TV actress called Jhansi who is famous for playing the character of a lawyer. She is so dedicated that she even studied law to prepare for her role and is understandably upset when she is made redundant due to budget cuts instead of Covid-19. It’s one of those rare films that doesn’t pretend the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t exist, but it also doesn’t particularly use the pandemic beyond a few silly moments or dialogue either. There’s even a joke involving a mask and a villain that doesn’t quite land as planned. Every character, including Raashi and Rao Ramesh, is written to be caricatures and while it seems fun at first, Maruthi manages to take it a bit too far for your liking.
The film’s opening sequence gives you hope that there might be something substantial, but it just gets muddled – oscillating between a song, a dance, a fight, a few jokes, dialogue impactful – repeating the cycle until the very end. There’s no rhyme or rhythm to the film’s progression, which makes you wonder if there was a cohesive storyline somewhere in sight. Some of the dialogue is even self-aware of what kind of movie it is, almost mirroring the thoughts of the audience, but that only manages to make it fun in bits. You can also see the ending coming a mile away, even though the movie claims you don’t know what’s going on.
For example, Rao Ramesh’s rant about how he’ll make sure critics only write about him in reviews is funny on paper and the actor makes it work, but it doesn’t quite translate as intended. . So is a dialogue from Gopichand about his mass fanbase. What also doesn’t work is the way Lucky’s character track is “redeemed” and the way Jhansi moves in and out of storylines, filling in the gap whenever needed. Jakes Bejoy’s music doesn’t really interest you, nor does the film’s narrative, except for the number Lehenga Lo Lady Donubut even that is really oddly placed.
Commercial Pakka only works thanks to the serious performances of Gopichand, Raashi, Sathyaraj and Rao Ramesh. They seem to give their characters their all, despite the inconsistencies. Gopichand shines in both comedy and action sequences as Raashi breathes life into a selfish TV actress. Despite the flaws, Maruthi tries to inject some freshness into the proceedings. How Sathyaraj’s character gets a dream sequence or how Raashi’s character thinks certain things are best said via a duet stand out, so do a few other things like that. Unfortunately, they aren’t enough to make the movie work as a whole.
Maruthi has delivered better movies, characters, and stories in the past; Commercial Pakka really isn’t his best work. But give the movie a shot if you’re a fan of it or the main cast. Don’t expect too much.