Majili movie review: Naga Chaitanya delivers career-best performance, ably supported by Samantha

In the opening sequence of Shiva Nirvana’s Majili, when a cricketer asks Poorna (Naga Chaitanya) to join them to celebrate their team’s victory, he instead asks for a favour — he wants to spend a day in a hotel room. A little later, Poorna walks into room no 606 with a bottle of whiskey and lies down on the bed. He slips into his past almost instantly. The room is a perfect metaphor for a time machine that Poorna refuses to forget. It is here that his memories of his youth are still vivid and far away from all his friends and family. He feels at peace with himself. Fate might not have been in his favour in his teens, but his resilience to reconnect with his past is his only solace.

Majili movie review: Naga Chaitanya delivers career-best performance, ably supported by Samantha

Samantha and Naga Chaitanya in a still from Majili. Twitter

Poorna is also an alcoholic, which often leads him to trouble. It makes him numb from the pain he has subjected himself to over the years, but at no point does he resort to it to forget his past. Poorna is a man who has not come to terms with his present yet. Time has worn him down, but the flicker of hope is still burning in his heart. This is the world that Shiva Nirvana builds to take us through the lives of Poorna, Anshu, and Sravani. By the time the end credits roll, the writer-director drives home the point that love is, sometimes, invisible. You can just feel it without even having to say a word. And with Naga Chaitanya and Samantha Ruth Prabhu playing a married couple, Shiva Nirvana turns Majili into an exploration of pain and how a couple deal with it. The s story might seem familiar, but the narrative is so engrossing that it leaves you with a desire to look into your own life and confront your pain.

This is the story of a youngster, Poorna, who aspires to be a cricketer. His father gives him a year to fulfill his dream. However, even though people acknowledge his talent and passion for the game, Poorna’s life takes a dramatic turn when he meets Anshu (Divyansha Kaushik), the daughter of Naval officer in Vizag. When his life crumbles, he ends up getting married to Sravani (Samantha), his neighbour who understands his pain more than anyone else around him. She lets him be because she knows that nothing will change Poorna. She comes to rescue whenever he gets into trouble. Even when he pays no attention to her, Sravani loves him wholeheartedly. There is never a moment when she asks him to move on or change just because everyone wants him to. She is content with the arrangement even though he barely talks to her, because she wants to be with him no matter what the situation is.

Majili has plenty of layers within its world. While it turns the spotlight on the life and lifestyle of a railway colony in Vizag, Anshu’s entry into Poorna’s life gives him a taste of elitism. She is a North Indian who speaks broken Telugu and chuckles when she learns the meaning of word ‘maayya‘. The star-crossed lovers are hit with a barrage of obstacles. But in his own way, Poorna believes that he will protect her. However, it is almost always the other way round. Anshu rescues him and ends up paying a heavy price. Poorna is caught in a time warp where everything about his present makes him restless. His life mirrors the melancholy of the song, ‘Lag Jaa Gale‘, which reminds him of what he has lost. And then, there is Sravani who dedicates herself to Poorna’s well-being even when he does not let her come close to him. They sleep in separate rooms and barely spend time with each other, but he depends on her for financial support. The film also digs into love and all its forms, without underlining it.

With Majili, Nirvana, who made his debut with Ninnu Kori, has added yet another soulful drama to his resume that tugs your heartstrings without trying too hard. He lets you soak into the world of its characters, cricket, and the city itself, which undergo a major transformation. Cricket is treated like a metaphor for time, and the fate of Poorna is closely linked to it even when he leaves the game. And at no time does Shiva rush into a scene or explain an emotion in a hurry. This technique turns the narrative into a beautifully written drama. The conflict is internal and Poorna’s heart turns heavy with time. The star of the film, however, is Naga Chaitanya, who delivers the best performance of his career so far. His eyes are full of pain and he makes you sympathise with him almost instantly. Divyansha Kaushik is a terrific new talent and she is the big surprise package of Majili. Her love story with Naga is beautifully conceived and Nirvana has filled the track with lots of innocence and bittersweet moments. Samantha brings in plenty of emotional depth to the story and does full justice to her role. Suhas (who plays Chaitanya’s friend), Rao Ramesh, Posani Krishna Murali and Subbaraju are well cast in their respective roles.

At a runtime of close to 150 minutes, the pace does slow down a bit in the second half, but that is just a minor quibble in the larger scheme of things. Majili is an honest portrayal of relationships. With some terrific performances by its cast, Vishnu Sarma’s cinematography, and fine writing from Shiva Niravana, the film turns into an enriching experience. It does leave you with a hangover of pain and love. Two big thumbs up.