When a film banks heavily on a star’s hits from the past, referencing songs and dialogues from his blockbusters, but fails to have fresh standout moments, it can end up as a huge misfire. The Telugu film Bro - the Avatar, starring uncle-nephew duo Pawan Kalyan and Sai Dharam Tej, is one such case in point. Director Samuthirakani who had written and directed the Tamil original Vinodhaya Sitham, reworks the plot to suit Pawan Kalyan’s and Sai Dharam Tej’s personas with the help of Trivikram Srinivas’ screenplay and dialogues. Yet, Bro ends up as a film that occasionally brings in some cheer but otherwise fizzles into a boring soap opera, despite a well-intended story. 

The core plot isn’t bad at all; it’s a relevant one that spells out the universal truth that none of us are indispensable; our home and workplace will adapt and move on irrespective of us. The story can work like a fable that makes the viewer take back a few lessons in humility. 

Samuthirakani and Trivikram Srinivas aptly call the central character Markandeyulu (Sai Dharam Tej). Mark, as his colleagues and friends refer to him, thinks he is presenting the best version of himself to his family and colleagues and that he knows the best. ‘I have no time’ is his constant refrain. 

Bro-the avatar (Telugu)

Cast: Pawan Kalyan, Sai Dharam Tej, Ketika Sharma

Direction: Samuthirakani

Music: S Thaman

Storyline: A self-centred man gets a second chance in life and gets to eat humble pie

Bro explores the possibilities when Mark’s life is brutally cut short and time presents itself in a larger-than-life avatar of Pawan Kalyan who is named, hold your breath, Titan! Mark bides for time to fulfil his responsibilities. Titan, who is addressed by Mark as ‘bro’, comes to an agreement with Mark.

The introduction sequence of ‘time’ aka Titan has ample references to the ‘power’ in the ‘power star’ label. He is also presented as a metaphor for a porter who transports people between different worlds, dressed like in the ‘Vayyari Bhama’ song from Thammudu. The fun has just begun, so we don’t mind it. Soon, there are references to Tholi Prema, Khushi, Jalsa, Bheemla Nayak… All this would have been more fun had Bro come up with its share of original moments that can stand the test of time and serve as pop culture references in the years to come. 

Among the songs that play at regular intervals, the most fun and foot-tapping ones are the brief segments from Jalsa and Bheemla Nayak, not the new compositions. So it is with the dialogues as well. Brahmanandam (in a cameo) and Pawan Kalyan have a fun face-off. The duo have sparkled in better-written comic stretches in the past; here, the writing does not have the zing. It never raises above fan service, referencing old dialogues and the star’s political career.