What’s it about?
Mario (Teja Sajja) is a developer of online games. When their game is getting negative feedback due to bugs in it, Mario and his two other friends head to Kurnool. They are in Kurnool to participate in their programmer Kalyan’s wedding celebrations but get the work done.
In Kurnool, they get a taste of some ‘faction’ action. Also, one of their friends is infected by a Zombie and soon the place turns into a Zombie land. How and why the faction-ridden villages become zombie areas? How will Mario fix this mess?
Zombie films have been quite popular in world cinema for many decades. A zombie is someone who’s neither dead nor alive and indulge in cannibalism. Director Prashanth Varma of ‘Awe’ fame is introducing this genre to Telugu audiences with his third directorial effort – Zombie Reddy, featuring Teja Sajja (‘Oh Baby’) as the male lead.
Let me confess, I am not a fan of the Zombie genre. Barring Netflix’s ‘Kingdom’ (a riveting watch) and Korean thriller ‘Train To Busan’, I have not explored this genre much.
Coming to Prashanth Varma’s film, this begins with PM Modi’s announcement of the lockdown in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. A well-established setup!
But soon, the film shifts gears and runs much like an Allari Naresh’s comedy – a spoof on faction dramas. The zombies come into the scene almost nearly an hour later. The spoof-comedy works. But it is the concept of zombies that is weak.
The faction-drama theme is smartly integrated into the Zombie genre, which evokes laughs at someplace. But it makes you shriek in scenes related to zombies. It lacks a thrill factor or tense moments.
It seems Prashanth Varma must have been in a dilemma whether ‘the zombie’ theme would appeal to the Telugu audiences. This lack of conviction is evident in the handling of those scenes. He borrows Indian mythological tropes, our cinematic clichéd sequences in telling these sequences.
It is also illogical that none of the government authorities or police officers come into the picture when two villages are infested with a viral disease, or filled with zombies. The coronavirus pandemic is added to give a logical angle to this theme but it also serves more like a cliched trope.
The best part of ‘Zombie Reddy’ lies in the middle part and some comedy sequences.
Child-artiste turned lead hero Teja Sajja is decent in his maiden effort. Anandi shines in her role. Daksha is okay. Getup Srinu’s comedy is hilarious.
Mark Robin’s background score and Anith’s cinematography needs to be commended. As a director, Prashanth Varma leaves his mark in many places but his screenplay is unconvincing.
Bottom-line: ‘Zombie Reddy’ is an irreverent zombie drama. For Telugu viewers, this is a genre they haven’t watched before. But it is a mixed bag, some portions have worked out so well, majority of them are pretty cliched as well.
By: Jalapathy Gudelli
Film: Zombie Reddy
Cast: Teja Sajja, Anandhi, Daksha Nagarkar and others
Music: Mark Robin
Director of Photography: Anith
Producer: Raj Sekhar Varma
Written and directed by Prasanth Varma
Release Date: Feb 05, 2021