Pundareeka (Balakrishna) is the son of a great devotee (Vishwanath) of Lord Krishna. The entire family including Pundareeka's mother, sister, brother-in-law, and paternal uncle are all devotees. However, Pundareeka feels like emulating Lord Krishna, who resorts typical thefts, moving with girls and enjoying life. He takes the life very casually and just enjoys the life. He doesn't want to marry as he treats girls like dolls. On the other hand, Lakshmi (Sneha) is also a great devotee of Lord Krishna and is the foster daughter of a priest (Balayya). In fact, she is an orphan but is brought up by him. Once, Lord Krishna (Balakrishna) appears in her dream and suggests that Pundareeka would be her husband.
When Pundareeka refuses the alliance on her father's word, Lakshmi settles in front of his house and continues to pray Lord Krishna to change the mind of Pundareeka. Pundareeka used to spend his evenings with Amrita (Tabu), a prostitute, who stays in the neighbouring village. One fine morning, the Lord Krishna changes his attire and convinces Pundareeka to marry Lakshmi. However, on the first night, Pundareeka takes away the jewellery from his wife and gifts them to Amrita. Later, Lakshmi prays the Lord again to change her husband's mind, and Krishna comes to her rescue again and unites Pundareeka with Lakshmi. Realising that Pundareeka is slipping from their hands, Amrita's mother (Y Vijaya) hatches a plan and swindles his entire property after some medication. Due to the effect of medication, Pundareeka drives away all his family members out of home. Then Amrita's mother necks out Pundareeka from that house.
Pundareeka challenges that he would bring another beautiful girl than Amrita and goes in search of her. In the process, he meets three beautiful girls in the ashram of Mrikanda. Though they reveal that they are the personifications of great rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, Pundareeka tries to grab them out of lust. When they go inside Mrikanda's ashram, Pundareeka goes inside and attempts to kick the sage. As a result, he loses both his legs. After realising the mistake, Pundareeka pleads for a remedy. Mrikanda says Pundareeka can get back his legs only after serving his parents. Pundareeka then goes in search of his parents and finds them. He gets back his legs after they pardon his mistakes. While serving his parents Lord Krishna visits his home but Pundareeka tells him to stay there till his parents go to sleep. Lord Krishna turns an idol and stays there.
At this juncture, Pundareeka learns that Lakshmi is on death bed and goes to see her. Learning that his wife is not allowed inside the temple, Pundareeka prays the Lord to give the darshan and the latter appears to Lakshmi. After watching the God, Lakshmi passes away. On request from all his eight wives, Lord Krishna agrees to give life to Lakshmi, on a condition that the request should also come from Pundareeka. But, Pundareeka, instead of requesting to give his wife back, appeals to take him to his wife and Pundareeka also joins Lord Krishna.
PLUS: No doubt, Balakrishna gave an excellent performance. However, neither the cinematographer, nor the director nor the make-up man could show him as a young man. The elderliness could be easily seen in Balakrishna. He failed to appear like a young man. Moreover, the overdose of romanticism spoiled the spirit of the movie. Sneha is okay in the role of Lakshmi. She sports the girl next door role as usual. She too looks romantic in a song. Tabu has played the role of a prostitute. She has really done a fantastic job in her character and proved a perfect fit. Though she appears very romantic in the film, her character ought to be like that and there is a point to argue that it is vulgar. Vishwanath, Balayya and others have done justice to their characters.
MINUS: A senior director like Raghavendra Rao has taken the second role of Balakrishna very casually. Though Lord Krishna role is also played by Balakrishna, the characterisation is very poor. The entire troupe, Lord Krishna and his eight wives characters are very poorly moulded on the screen. The audience would get a feel of watching a stage play and the dialogues are very cinematic and dramatised way. LB Sriram's character as Narada is atrocious. Words like Anta Scene Ledu in general films are translated like Manaku Anta Sannivesam Ledu are in poor taste. JK Bharavi did not work whole-heartedly for the film. The comedy track picturised on Sunil and Brahmanandam failed to evoke laughter.
REMARKS: The original Panduranga Mahatmyam remained a classic due to excellent characterisation of all the roles. The original film, which was a devotional film in nature, had only 20 per cent romance and 80 per cent devotion. Moreover, the film was made when the late NTR was in prime age and he appeared very romantic in the film and the glow of devotion could be clearly noticed in the latter part of the film. But in this film the romance percentage is 70 and the devotional percentage reduced to 30. The extension of the film with the Lord Krishna waiting for a request from Pundareeka spoiled the mood. As is said earlier, but for the last 20-25 minutes, the film has nothing much to talk about.
Cast: Balakrishna, Sneha, Tabu, K Vishwanath, Mohan Babu (special appearance), Balayya, Prasad Babu, Sameer, Sunil, Dharmavarapu Subrahmanyam, Ali, Anant, LB Sriram, Jr Relangi, Brahmanandam, Jenny, Siva Parvati, Sana, Archana (Veda), Suhasini, Meghana Naidu, Y Vijaya, Apoorva, Sireesha, Bhargavi, Neethu, Baby Kavya and others
Credits: Story and dialogues – JK Bharavi, Camera – Jayaram, Editing – Srikara Prasad, Music – MM Keevarani, Producer – K Krishnamohana Rao, Screenplay and direction – K Raghavendra Rao.
Banner: RK Associates
Released on: May 30, 2008