Bommarillu bills itself as a romantic comedy, but really it's a guy's coming-of-age tale set in the framework of the romance between Siddhu and Hasini. Siddhu's a guy with everything--everything that he didn't ask for and doesn't want, but that his father (Prakash Raj) insists on providing for him anyway, right down to his hairstyle and clothes. Siddhu loves his father and knows the older man just wants what's best for him... But somehow he can't quite muster up the wherewithal to tell his dad to back off and let him do his own work (at the office, his father calls ahead to let the employees know what needs to be done so all his sons need to do is sign the work that's completed ahead of time).
In his frustration, Siddhu hangs out with his like-minded friends and gets drunk on a regular basis. Only when he's intoxicated does his frustration with life in general come spewing out in a stream of profanity directed mostly toward his father. Siddhu's been putting off joining his father's company, knowing that he'll become another shadow puppet in the workplace (just like his older brother), but his time is up. His father, without mentioning it to him, has chosen a girl for Siddhu to marry... And of course a married man has to have a job.
This aspect of the plot was hilarious, by the way. Subbulakshmi (Neha) is so much like Poonam of Vivah that it cracked me up. When they first meet, Siddhu tells her what he can about himself and asks what she'd like to find out. She just shakes her head, eyes downcast, and says a bunch of stuff prefaced by "Father says..." OMG. (I had to wonder if it was a deliberate nod to Vivah, but considering that Bommarillu released a few months ahead of the other film in 2006 it doesn't seem likely.) Siddhu reacts like most modern men would: with complete horror at being forced into an alliance with a girl who can't talk, at least not without mentioning her daddy. Spurred into action by his father's acceptance on his behalf, he goes out looking for a girl of his own.
And that's how he meets Hasini. This whimsical chatterbox who ascribes to children's superstitions and loves to ditch college classes instantly captures his attention, and, soon, his heart.
Siddharth's performance is so sweet in this portion of the film I could hardly stand it. I love when heroes fall for their girls right off the bat, and that's precisely what Siddhu does; Siddharth's expressions as he follows Genelia around are stinking adorable. Of course, it's no wonder that he falls for her; even though Hasini lives in a run-down apartment with no mother and an alcoholic father, she has the one thing Siddhu lacks: joie de vivre. She lives the way she pleases, and more often than not acts on impulse without regret. The best thing about her: she is completely genuine. What you see with Hasini is what you get; it's so completely opposite to the double life Siddhu leads that he's understandably entranced, and he finds that he acts his true self when he's with her.
The music in the film is great! I especially liked "Kaani Ippudu" and the semi-sad "Nammaka Thappani." The picturizations reminded me of Bollywood in the early 90's--lots of fields and just the two leads dancing for the most part, in the romantic songs anyway. Genelia's charisma reminds me of a young Madhuri, and even though as far as I can tell she's not nearly as good a dancer she definitely grabs her share of the spotlight just like Madz--no small feat when sharing the screen with as magnetic a personality as Siddharth.
Given that most of what I've said about the film is positive, you're probably wondering what I didn't like about it. Well, to be honest: Siddhu's family. They're snobs. Spineless snobs. Their reaction to meeting Hasini would've turned me off to them completely even if I had been all that fond of them in the first place.
And don't even get me started on Siddhu's mom (played by a grim-mouthed, joyless Jayasudha). Halfway through the film he loses patience and yells at her. Instead of talking over the situation like a rational human being, she refuses to talk to him for the next hour of the film. Dear God. I know parental emotional blackmail is alive and well, and not just in Indian families, but don't expect me to have any sort of sympathy toward someone who weilds the weapon so mercilessly. Because most of the film's conflicts stem from Siddhu's inability to grow a spine and tell his family to back the hell off, well, I ended up only liking two people out of an extremely big cast. And before he comes to his senses, even Siddhu almost made me hate him with his poor treatment of Hasini toward the latter third of the movie.
No, wait, I did like some other characters. Siddhu's friends are very cute (although I would've liked to have seen him making friends with Hasini's school chums as well). It was quite the culture shock to see all those hairy fellows after a steady run of clean-shaven or partly stubbly Hindi film heroes though!
Still, overall I can give Bommarillu a hearty recommendation, even if it's mostly for Siddharth and Genelia. They, and the soundtrack, make the film worth every penny.