Sundara Kanda, a chapter in Ramayana depicts Hanuman's efforts to locate Sita and unite her with Ram. This seems to be a favourite subject of director Bapu as some of his earlier films were also based on this basic theme. The first film that comes to mind is Mutyala Muggu wherein the offspring (twins) take on the job of uniting the parents.
In the Telugu film, Sundarakanda it is an overgrown baby Charmee who dons this coveted role. She is also known as 'Monkey lanti Pinky' with an oblique reference to Hanuman.
But as the film unfolds, one cannot help noticing similarities with the English flick What a Girl Wants where the protagonist, an American teenager learns that her father is a wealthy British politician running for office. She goes to the UK to establish a relationship with her father. The screenplay borrows liberally from this English film. The father, an erstwhile zamindar contesting election, including the uncle who wants to marry his daughter to the rich father, the father rescuing Charmee from the clutches of the rival gang, etc.
The only difference is that it is a desi version with a roly-poly Charmee jumping like a monkey just to suit her name in contrast to the level-headed protagonist in What a Girl Wants.
Then there is Naresh, the only journalist in town who represents all papers, magazines besides television channels.
The film appears like a caricature, a sad comment on the directorial skills of a veteran director who gave films like Gorantha Deepam, Mutyala Muggu, Seetha Kalyanam and the recent Radha Gopalam.
Despite Bapu's stature as a director whose films are considered as poems on celluloid, it is time he evolved a new style that would be in sync with the present times. Though there is an effort to combine the modern with the traditional, the outcome is not very good. The dialogue, the expression and theme - everything appears to be outdated. It is as if we are transported to a bygone era.
Coming to performances, Charmee as the protagonist is okay but she looks old for the role especially when she has Prema (mother) or Suneel Sharma (father) in the same frame. The highlight of the film is Kota Srinivasa Rao's performance. Suneel Sharma appears as if he stepped straight into the sets of Sundarakanda from his tele-serial where he does the role of Krishna as his expression and dialogue delivery is just like that. Naresh has very little to do in the film. He can say he did a film with Bapu.
Music by Vidasagar is average. However the background score (not by Vidyasagar) is good. The dialogues lack punch. The camera however captures the countryside beautifully.
The film is a drag at several points.
Sundarakanda is certainly not a Bapu film.