Critic’s Rating : / 5
Like, Share & Subscribe Movie Review : Will not make you ‘like, share or subscribe’
Review: Merlapaka Gandhi, who has previously helmed films like Venkatadri Express and Krishnarjuna Yuddham tries to make a self-aware film with Like, Share & Subscribe. While he thankfully does not take the path of making this a cautionary tale about the digital age, he also doesn’t do enough to elevate a done-and-dusted story about protagonists finding themselves in the middle of a fight they never began.
Viplav (Santosh Shoban) is a wannabe travel vlogger who is hoping to increase his follower count with the help of a ‘famous’ cameraman Jack Daniels (Sudarshan). With his channel, Guvva Vihari, he’s hoping to ape the successful channel of his crush Vasudha (Faria Abdullah), a Telugu vlogger from Delhi with millions of subscribers. On the other hand there are rising tensions between the police department, particularly DGP Narendra Varma and Commander Gopanna, who heads the PPF (People’s Protection Force). A lush and green Araku becomes the battlefield with these three innocent vloggers finding themselves in the middle of it all.
With Like, Share & Subscribe, Merlapaka brings a film that actually sounds exciting on paper than how it translates on-screen. We have Viplav, a chirpy man who borders on annoying, someone who’s never taken seriously and unlike the usual Telugu heroes, someone who can’t land a punch to save his life. Then there’s Vasudha, a solo female vlogger trained in kickboxing who’s more than capable of saving herself if need be. In a film that doesn’t take its circumstances seriously, it works a little when Merlapaka explains away unnecessary special numbers and fight scenes with throwaway dialogues. However, it’s not enough to call the writing clever by any means. And it especially doesn’t work when some of the events unfolding on-screen demand a little more seriousness.
The biggest drawback Like, Share & Subscribe however suffers from is that it fails to engage. We have a good set-up here. A retired Prasad Rao (Raghubabu) meets Viplav by the beach and is bored enough to listen to his long-winded tale about everything that happened. The latter even makes a comment on how the advent of OTT has made the audience impatient to sit through some proper storytelling – and yet we’re never offered that. A story (and character) that’s set up in the beginning of the tale is brought back at the end just to tie things up. Even Sapthagiri gets a cameo just to drag the narrative apart from forcefully throw the wrench into the mix. Some of the dialogues are also not as funny as the makers seem to think they are.
Where the film does work is when it comes to some of the performances. Santosh sells us the silliest of lines and plot points and you walk away both loving and borderline annoyed at Viplav. He seems to revel in the silliness of it all and it shows. Faria is okay as Vasudha, some of the emotional scenes demanded much more from her than she delivered. Her accented Telugu is also off-putting and distracting in certain scenes. Brahmaji (who plays a disgraced naxal called Brahmanna) and Sudarshan are a hoot. They get some of the best scenes in the film and make the most of it all. The songs by Praveen Lakkaraju and Ram Miryali only hinder the flow and never seem to fit the narrative. While the film is only 2-hours-14-minutes long, the editing could’ve been tighter to make it work.
Merlapaka Gandhi’s Like, Share & Subscribe is unfortunately the kind of film that had the potential to be mindless fun, if only it had better writing. Watch if you don’t mind your patience tested.