Banner: Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Productions
Cast: Sai Dharam Tej, Rakul Preet Singh, Anasuya, Jagapathi Babu, Mukesh Rishi, Vennela Kishore, Anup Thakur Singh, Prudhvi, Ali and others
Story: Veligonda Srinivas
Dialogues: Abburi Ravi
Music: S S Thaman
Cinematography: Chota K Naidu
Editing: Gowtham Raju
Producers: Nallamalupu Srinivas (Bujji) and Tagore Madhu
Screenplay and direction: Gopichand Malineni
Release date: February 24, 2017
After delivering two hits in a row with "Balupu" and "Pandaga Chesuko", director Gopichand Malineni has teamed up with hero Sai Dharam Tej who is also on the track of hits. So their combination for "Winner" created curiosity.
With Rakul Preet Singh playing the heroine and top producers backing the movie, the movie caught attention. Songs by Thaman have already topped the charts.
In this scenario, "Winner" has everything to go for it. So has the movie lived up to the promise it has shown before the release?
Siddharth Reddy (Sai Dharam Tej) hates his father Mahender Reddy (Jagapathi Babu) as he marries another woman after his mother's death.
Mahender Reddy turns busy as businessman of a racecourse and stops caring for Siddharth as he used to do. So the kid Siddharth Reddy runs away from home and develops hatred towards his father and horse racing.
Years later, Siddharth Reddy turns out to be owner of a newspaper. He falls in love with Sitara (Rakul Preet Singh) who comes to Hyderabad to participate in a running competition.
In typical cinematic style, he proposes to her, she says no to him. Then her father arranges a marriage with a horse rider (Anup Thakoor Singh). In the marriage mandapam, Sitara asks both Siddharth Reddy and this horse rider to compete with each other in a horse riding race and the winner gets her.
Siddharth who has aversion to horse riding now has twin challenges - to win the love of Sitara as well as win back his father's love by competing with this Jockey. What happens next?
Sai Dharam Tej is one of the talented young actors in Tollywood today. He has been delivering what mass audiences like to see in a hero. In "Winner" too, Sai Dharam Tej has given his best in dialogue delivery, dances and mass-action stunts but his characterisation is too weak. Though he shines, his role doesn't pay off well. He has also gone for slight makeover.
Heroine Rakul Preet Singh has not hesitated in showing off her skin, she is just there for glamour show. There is not much strength to her character. Jagapathi Babu once again comes up with good act.
Villain Anup Singh Thakur who was recently seen in Suriya's "Singam 3" is okay for the role. Anasuya in a brief appearance and in an item song has sizzled.
Prudhvi as Singham Sujatha has done routine comedy and Ali's role as horsemen Babu cum Peter Hiens is so boring. Vennela Kishore as Sai Dharam Tej's assistant is neat. Mukesh Rishi is okay too.
The movie is said to be one of the costliest production in Sai Dharam Tej's career. The expenditure is quite visible on screen as production values are full of gloss. Chota K Naidu's camera work is top class.
Thaman has given catchy tunes. Artwork and production values are terrific, as all the frames look very rich. Editing and pace of the movie is okay. Action stunts are neat. Dialogues are adequate enough for a masala movie.
Sai Dharam Tej
O Sitara song
Predictable screenplay and direction
Awkward comedy track
Director Gopichand Malineni is known for mass dramas, none of the movies he has directed so far won critical praise but were money-spinners as they had struck a chord with B and C center audiences. In "Winner" too he has tried to repeat the same trick. Starting from the very beginning of the story, the treatment is quite routine and mass-oriented.
The movie's first song comes at just after 15 minutes of the runtime and the song is not hero's introduction but an item song involving with Anasuya. Such massy way, the director begins the movie and he continues the same track.
He immediately introduces heroine and hero falls for her also instantly. Because the hero says he doesn't like "lag". Although the writer and director don't take much time in setting up the story, the screenplay is full of lag.
From the introduction scene of Rakul to interval bang, nothing happens except silly romantic track. The lengthy comedy track involving Prudhvi, Rakul and Sai Dharam Tej is repetitive of many masala movies. Though some dialogues bring smile, the track doesn't add much to the drama.
Even the interval bang seems illogical. Rakul doesn't accept the love proposal of Sai Dharam Tej in earlier scene and in the very next scene she challenges her would-be to fight with Sai Dharam Tej.
The second half begins on better note with story focusing why Jagapathi Babu didn't care for Sai Dharam Tej and who played the villain role between father and son, etc. The first twenty minutes post interval makes an interesting watch. But it drifts again into routine with silly comedy track involving Ali. And the climax sequence is laughable.
In the beginning of the movie it is shown that Sai Dharam Tej is the owner of a newspaper but in the rest of the movie he behaves like an awara than an editor or owner of newspaper. Never in the movie again his job is shown. Anasuya's appearance, Rakul's aim in life, and Mukesh Rishi's back story... all seem forced.
Both the story by Veligonda and narration by director Gopichand Malineni is cliched. What works in the film are Sai Dharam Tej's ease, some scenes post-interval and couple of catchy songs by Thaman.
Dialogues like "Nenemi Gaddipochani Kadu Gaddaparani Digipoddi", "Pattumani Patikellu Levu Kani Pettukunnarante Patikamandi Paine Potaru", "Chooddaniki Chinnappati Chiranjeevila Unnavu" may ring well with the front benchers.
All in all, "Winner" is so hackneyed but delivers what it promises in its theatrical trailer - a film for B and C Center audiences.
Bottom-line: Jockey Tacky!