Director: Upendra Madhav
Cast: Kalyan Ram, Kajal Aggarwal, Ravi Kishan, Vennela Kishore and Prudhviraj
Kalyan Ram’s MLA doesn’t bring anything new to the table with respect to the plot or presentation. It’s a tried-and-tested commercial outing and it has all the ingredients that are intended to appeal to the masses. In this case, these ingredients don’t quite work in the way they’re supposed to, and it only clicks to an extent. For instance, Kalyan’s attempt to outsmart the villain by using alternate reality through a show is funny, but it’s quite similar to what Srinu Vaitla’s Dookudu offered for the sake of entertainment. It’s understandable that one finds these portions similar because director Upendra Madhav had assisted Vaitla on Dookudu. MLA misses novelty which makes it a regular commercial entertainer.
The core plot of MLA is about the need for education and the story also shines on the spotlight on child labour. In the second half, the film does get message-heavy, taking a very dramatic route to make its point. After a highly entertaining first half, you wish the tone post interval doesn’t change so much. Upendra Madhav proves he’s a better writer than director. Some of the lines are quite powerful; they deliver the intended message in a very convincing way.
The political sub-plot is merely used to make the proceedings thrilling, but it doesn’t go down well as Upendra treats it in a lighter vein. The face-off between Kalyan and Ravi Kishan doesn’t end in fireworks and is reminiscent of many films in recent times. The message-driven second half reminds of us of Siva Koratala’s style of direction. The film get very predictable and tedious towards the end, leaving us not quite entertained.
Kalyan has evolved as actor and MLA is proof to easily slip into any role. He owns his character and shines in what is otherwise a passable entertainer. Kajal Aggarwal gets a better written role. The entire story revolves around her character and it’s a relief to see a heroine get so many weightage in terms of her character in a mainstream film.
MLA needed to rise above its predictable plot which addresses a very common household problem. Unfortunately, it needed to treat the story even more seriously than merely attempting for the heck of it.